The third-seeded Sterling Jets won a four-point contest over sixth-seeded Wymore Southern in the first round of the MUDECAS boys A Division tournament.
They knocked off second-seeded Tecumseh-Johnson County Central in the semifinals by 18 points.
All that was left for the Jets Saturday was to defeat the top-seeded Johnson-Brock Eagles and earn a MUDECAS championship.
And the Jets did just that, downing the Eagles, 62-50 at the Beatrice City Auditorium, and winning the school’s first MUDECAS A Division title in 17 years. Sterling last previous MUDECAS title was in the B Division in 2008.
“Winning this tournament means something,” Sterling coach Jimmy Motz said. “I’ve always said whoever wins this tournament has had a great week. We beat three big schools and this will help us down the road.
“I don’t think anybody in our class in the state has had the kind of week we’ve had.”
Bruning-Davenport/ Shickley won the third-place game over Tecumseh-Johnson County Central, 49-47, on a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
In consolation play, Pawnee City defeated Adams Freeman, 60-45, and Wymore Southern downed Humboldt Table Rock Steinauer, 63-56.
Motz said the Jets talked about being ready to go from the start and getting a fast takeoff.
“Our start in the first quarter got us going,” Motz said. “We jumped out early and then we played from the middle of the second quarter on with the lead.”
Motz said the “real key” to the win was when senior Jake Wirthele scored the first five points of the third quarter, giving Sterling a 35-25 lead.
“In those first two possessions of the third quarter, the game went from five to 10 (points) and stayed that way for the rest of the game,” Motz said.
Wirthele ended up as the Jets’ leading scorer with 22 points, including four two-point goals, three three-point goals and a 5-for-6 performance from the free-throw line.
Overall, Motz said the Jets did a “great job” of executing offensively in the game.
“We’re disciplined offensively and we value possessions,” Motz sad. “When you do those things, you’re going to win.”
As the game went along, Motz said the Jets’ defense was able to get some “stops” against the Eagles.
“We also outrebounded them by 12, which is huge,” Motz said.
Motz said the Jets played solid defense, especially in the second half.
“We were getting hands up on their shooters and did a tremendous job,” Motz said.
While the Jets led most of the game, Motz said the team’s “finish” was still very important.
“We talked in shoot-around today about finishing,” Motz said. “All I had to say tonight before the game was finish and gold medals. That’s all I told them.”
Even though the MUDECAS championship is a big win for the Jets, Motz said the team cannot be satisfied.
“We can’t take the next two weeks off,” Motz said. “We have to use this as a building block and keep getting better.”
Motz said the Jet’s effort has been good and they are “getting after” opponents.
“That’s all I could ask right now,” Motz said.
Johnson-Brock took the game’s initial lead 2-0 with a field goal, but Wirthele put the Jets up 3-2 with a bucket and bonus free throw.
After a two-pointer by the Eagles, Wirthele connected again from the field, giving the Jets a 5-4 lead and an advantage they would never relinquish.
A three-pointer by Colin VanGroningen put the Jets up 8-4 before Johnson-Brock scored from the field to make it 8-6.
Sterling’s Connor Malone hit a bucket and Wirthele followed with a three-pointer s the Jets went up 13-6 with 3:39 left in the first quarter.
An Eagle field goal was answered by Sterling with a two-pointer and bonus free throw by Kody Benson.
Johnson-Brock hit a two-pointer and Austin Magill answered for the Jets, making it an 18-10 game at the end of the period.
The teams exchanged points to start the second quarter as Johnson-Brock hit two free throws and Sterling answered with a two-pointer by VanGroningen.
Johnson-Brock scored from the field again, but Wirthele came right back with a three-pointer for the Jets.
With 6:05 left in the period, Sterling led 23-14.
The Eagles made a run at the Jets, scoring seven straight points to make it a 23-21 contest with 4:22 left in the quarter.
Wirthele stopped the run for Sterling with a field goal and bonus free throw.
The teams each hit a pair of field goals in the final minutes before half time with Klay Heusman and Malone scoring for Sterling.
After two quarters of play, the Jets led 30-25.
Wirthele started off the third quarter by hitting a three-pointer and then a two, opening up a 10-point lead for the Jets, 35-25.
After two Johnson-Brock field goals, Malone scored once from the free-throw line for a 36-29 Sterling lead.
The Eagles hit a two, which VanGroningen answered from the free-throw line.
VanGroningen also had an answer for another Johnson-Brock field goal as he scored from the field with 2:11 left in the period for a 40-31 Jet lead.
Johnson-Brock hit a two-pointer, which Sterling’s Kody Benson answered from the field.
The Eagles finished out the quarter with two free throws, making it a 42-35 game heading into the final period.
After a Johnson-Brock field goal to open the fourth quarter, Sterling answered with a two-pointer by Malone and two free throws by VanGroningen, giving the Jets at 46-37 lead.
The teams exchanged two-pointers and then threes as Malone scored from the field for Sterling and Heusman connected from behind the arch.
A two-pointer by Johnson-Brock and then a steal and field goal by the Eagles made it a 51-46 contest with 4:57 left.
Sterling then went on a 8-0 run, increasing its advantage to 57--46 with 55 seconds left as Malone hit a two, Heusman sank a free throw, VanGroningen hit a two and Wirthele went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.
Johnson-Brock hit two free throws and VanGroningen scored once from the line for Sterling.
After a two-pointer by Johnson-Brock pulled the Eagles within 10 points, 60-50, with 21 seconds left, Sterling finished out the scoring with single charity tosses by Heusman and Malone.
Scoring in double-figures for Sterling, along with Wirthele, were VanGroningen with 14 and Malone with 12.
Johnson-Brock was led in scoring by Jonathon Wenzl and Cody Baack with 14 points each.
Sterling 18 12 12 20-62
Johnson-B 10 15 10 15-50
Sterling ( 62 )
Jake Wirthele 22, Austin Magill two, Klay Heusman seven, Colin VanGroningen 14, Connor Malone 12, Kody Benson five.
Johnson-Brock ( 50 )
Kale Wolken nine, Grahm Butler four, Nick Behrends two, Trevor Krenk seven, Jonathon Wenzl 14, Cody Baack 14.
Johnson County 47
A buzzer-beating three-pointer by Kendrick Holeman gave the Bruning-Davenport/Shickley Eagles a 49-47 win over Tecumseh-Johnson County Central in the third-place contest.
Johnson County had taken a one-point lead, 47-46, with three seconds left on the clock as Nate Kuhl sank one of two free throws.
Bruning-Davenport/Shickley got the ball to Holeman along the far sideline well behind the three-point arch and he put up the shot as the buzzer sounded. The ball banked in, giving the Eagles the victory.
The three-pointer was Holeman’s sixth of the game as he had a team-high 18 points all from behind the arch.
“That’s the breaks,” Johnson County coach Chris Hutt said. “It’s the way it goes. We battled back. We played a good first quarter and a good fourth quarter, but the middle two we didn’t play very good defense.”
Hutt said once the Thunderbirds “decided to play a little defense” in the fourth quarter, they were able to get back in the game.
“We just didn’t finish it off,” Hutt said.
Hutt said the tournament was a good experience for his squad.
“We got to play three games against three quality teams in competition,” Hutt said. “It serves us well for the future, but it doesn’t feel any better in the present.”
After losing in the semifinals to Sterling, Hutt said the Thunderbirds had hoped to end up 2-1 in the tournament.
“We came about as close to doing that as you possibly can,” Hutt said.
After trailing initially 3-0, Johnson County tied the score with a three-pointer by Daniel Rojas and took a lead on a bucket by Zach Kaster.
Kaster and Cole Hamilton hit back-to-back three-pointers and Kaster added another two, putting the Thunderbirds up, 13-3, with 25 seconds left in the first period.
The Eagles’ Derek Swartzendruber hit two free throws to finish out the first-quarter scoring with the Thunderbirds leading 13-5.
Johnson County continued to hold the lead until, with 1:03 left in the second period the Eagles’ Ryan Tegtmeier hit a two-pointer, putting Bruning-Davenport/Shickley up 20-19.
Swartzendruber hit a two for the Eagles.
Dustin Beethe tied the score at 22 with a three-pointer, but, with four seconds left in the second quarter, the Eagles’ Luke Christensen hit a three-pointer, making the halftime score 25-22 Bruning-Davenport/Shickley.
The lead changed hands four times in the third quarter before the Eagles were able to take a lead and hold it through the end of the period.
After three quarters of play, Bruning-Davenport/Shickley led 40-33.
Johnson County Central chipped away at the Eagles lead and, with 2:46 left in the game, Dustin Beethe tied the score for the Thunderbirds at 43.
A bucket by Zach Kaster 35 seconds later gave the Thunderbirds at 45-43 lead.
Swartzendruber hit a free throw for the Eagles, which Kuhl answered for Johnson County.
Leading 46-44, Johnson County forced an Eagle turnover with 23 seconds left in the game, but handed the ball right back to Bruning-Davenport/Shickley, throwing the ball away on the inbounds play.
“You should never have situations where you can’t get the ball inbounds,” Hutt said. “I think we were getting tired.”
Tegtmeier hit a two-pointer with 15 seconds left to tie the score at 46 and then Kuhl hit the free throw to give Johnson County the one-point lead, setting up Holeman’s end-of-game heroics.
Scoring in double figures for Bruning-Davenport/Shickley, besides Holeman, were Swartzendruber with 12 points and Ryan Tegtmeier with 10.
Johnson County Central was led by Kaster with 17 points.
JCC 13 9 11 14-47
BDS 5 20 15 9-49
Johnson County ( 47 )
Cole Hamilton five, Logan Dorsey six, Dustin Beethe six, Nate Kuhl eight, Daniel Rojas five, Zach Kaster 17.
Bruning-D/S ( 49 )
Luke Christensen nine, Kendrick Holeman 18, Ryan Tegtmeier 10, Derek Swartzendruber 12.
Pawnee City 60
Trailing 17-8 after the first quarter, the Pawnee City Indians turned the tables on the Freeman Falcons in the second quarter, outscoring them 21-6, en route to a 60-45 win.
After taking the halftime lead, the Indians went on to outscore Freeman 14-8 in the third quarter and 17-14 in the fourth.
Hadley Sejkora led Pawnee City’s offense with 20 points, while Mike Marr had 13.
Freeman was led offensively by Kellen Unvert with 26 points, including five three-point goals.
Pawnee 8 21 14 17-60
Freeman 17 6 8 14-45
Pawnee City ( 60 )
Erik Derby six, Hadley Sejkora 20, Thomas Pearson six, Garrett Borcher seven, Connor Sweeney seven, Scott Borcher one, Mike Marr 13.
Freeman ( 45 )
Cullin Bloom two, Haydon Scott 14, Kyle Schoen two, Kellen Unvert 26, Ryan Dorn one.
Humboldt TRS 56
Three Southern Raiders finished in double-figure scoring in a 63-56 win over the Humboldt Table Rock Steinauer Titans, 63-56.
Devan Baehr led the Raiders with 22 points, while Daniel Barr had 14 and Jordan Murphy had 11.
The Raiders led 12-9 at the end of the first quarter and 29-26 at halftime.
HTRS outscored Southern, 19-16, in the third quarter, tying the game at 45.
In the final period, Southern hit 11 free throws and outscored HTRS 18-11 to earn the win.
The Titans were led in scoring by Cody Tasler with 20 points and Aric Schnacker with 11.
HTRS 9 17 19 11-56
Southern 12 17 16 18-63
HTRS ( 56 )
Aric Schnacker 11, Cody Tasler 20, Cody Dreier seven, Calvin Freeman six, Kevin Beethe eight, Jake Clancy four.
Southern ( 63 )
Daniel Barr 14, Caleb Bednar eight, Tucker Epp eight, Jordan Murphy 11, Devan Baehr 22.