BURLINGTON JUNCTION, Mo. — The South Nodaway boys basketball team dug themselves an early hole on Monday’s opening day of pool-play in the Northwest Missouri Tournament against the East Atchison Wolves in Burlington Junction. They were able to overcome it as they lost 54-39.
Early in the second quarter, the Wolves extended their lead to 20-7 on a three by freshman Kaden Cooper.
“We came out flat and that was a big part of it,” South Nodaway coach Dustin Skoglund said. “When a team is that much more athletic than you, it is important that you come out with some intensity and energy. We talked about that as part of the gameplay and for whatever reason, that didn’t happen. Once we got down, we brought some energy to come back, but some of that is on me and some of that is inexperience.”
A six-point run for South Nodaway with a pair of foul shots by sophomore C.J. Sipes and two baskets from senior Logan Harlan drew the Longhorns back within 20-14.
After East Atchison scored to end the run, South Nodaway junior Clayton Walker scored on an assist from junior Taylar Freemyer. Freemyer added two more points after a picture-perfect box-out resulted in a displacement call against the Wolves. Freemyer hit both foul shots with 3.9 seconds left in the half and South Nodaway went the the locker room trailing just 22-18.
The Wolves run the margin back to ten points early in the third quarter, but the Longhorns had another run in them too.
Juniors Tanner Davis and Cade Henggeler each connected on a pair of free throws before Walker found himself wide-open on a backdoor cut for a layup. Sipes pulled the Longhorns within 30-28 with a putback.
Freemyer got the score back down to two points at 32-30 moments later, but the turning point of the second half came to end the quarter as East Atchison sophomore Jake McEnaney scored on an ‘and-one’ play to end the third quarter and put the Wolves in front 35-30.
That momentum carried into the fourth quarter as East Atchison blew the game open with a 9-3 run to begin the period. Freemyer cut the lead to nine twice with baskets but the game never got closer than that and the Wolves cruised to the 15-point victory.
Freemyer and Harlan led the Longhorns with 10 points each and Skoglund credited Freemyer with a strong all-around game including his defense on Wolves’ star Gage McAdams, who was held to 11.
“He impacts the game in so many ways,” Skoglund said. “He plays really hard. He is kind of our emotional leader, if not a vocal one. He is a good player and one that works hard at it.”
Sipes led the Longhorn bench with nine points. Henggeler and Walker each had four points and Davis added two. Davis was hampered by an ankle injury.
The Wolves were led by McEnaney with 18 points.
“We just have to find that consistency,” Skoglund said. “Right now, we are really inconsistent.”
South Nodaway will play its second pool-play game on Wednesday at 9 p.m. against Nodaway-Holt. East Atchison plays Nodaway-Holt on Tuesday at 6 p.m.