Cobra boys race off to strong start in win over Silver Lake
Like any good story, a basketball game has a beginning, a middle and an end and, like a captivating author, the Jackson Heights boys basketball team has drawn fans in repeatedly this season thanks to some enticing introductory chapters.
Tuesday night was no different and one of the most dominant voices on the team, junior Zane Richter, came to the forefront again to pen another strong opening against Silver Lake on the way to a 63-48 victory in first round action of the Thunder Classic in Seneca.
Richter poured in 14 points in the first quarter and the Cobras opened up an 11-point lead following back-to-back threes from Richter and Wyatt Olberding to start the quarter and a 9-0 run in the middle. That was crucial, according to JH coach Chris Brown, as he noted Silver Lake was a team that would not (and did not) go away.
“They were physical. They were athletic and strong, and quite frankly in the first quarter we made a bunch of difficult shots. That got us rolling and then we started playing really well,” Brown said. “That helped making those tough shots early, but they were tough to get open against because they’re so physical, so strong and athletic.”
“When you get a team down like that and they feel like they’re playing good defense and you’re still scoring, that’s tough mentally for them to come back from,” Brown added.
Jackson Heights showed off some of its athleticism in the first quarter and the Cobras’ execution in transition seemed to carry over from the win against Horton into Tuesday’s contest against the Eagles.
The Cobras got turnovers in bunches and handled Silver Lake’s zone press with ease, beating it over the top and getting forward Lane Slocum involved with some easy low post scoring opportunities.
“We did a really good job of spreading the floor, making crisp passes and making them pay. That’s always so great to see when a team’s pressing you trying to turn you over and when you score off of it, that’s huge,” Brown said.
While Jackson Heights had no issues dicing up Silver Lake’s zone press, a switch to man pressure defense in the second quarter slowed the Cobras down a little. The team also didn’t help itself with some silly fouls that allowed the Eagles to close the gap at the free throw line.
Still, the Cobras managed to extend their lead to 15 points, 33-18, by halftime and fouls were about the only issues the team had to discuss at the break.
After heeding its coach’s advice, Jackson Heights made the foul situation a non-issue in the second half. In fact, the Cobras turned the table on the Eagles.
The JHHS players came out patient offensively in the third quarter, waiting for their moments to attack the basket and when they did they either got the basket or drew contact from Silver Lake. That helped Jackson Heights dictate the pace of the second half and continue to extend its lead.
Brown has been pleased with his players’ ability to adjust on the fly throughout the season and against Silver Lake he said that came in handy as he felt the change of pace, speeding things up and then slowing them down, bothered the Eagles on Tuesday.
Jackson Heights wasn’t giving up much on the defensive end either as Brown noted all of his players supplied good help defense in the game and swarmed the ball for a strong overall effort.
“When they took the ball where we wanted them to take it, we did a great job. We got steals. We got pressure. We forced tough shots, but when they got the ball to the middle, which is not where we wanted them to have it, then we were having a hard time getting back and they got some easy shots,” Brown said.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Cobras held a 21-point advantage and while fouls started to get away from Jackson Heights again, it had built up enough of a lead to minimize the impact of the Eagles’ free throws. On top of that, Silver Lake was in some serious foul trouble of its own and the Cobras continued to attack the basket to get easy scoring opportunities until the very end.
Richter got a lot of those opportunities as he finished with 31 points in the 63-48 victory, but Brown noted the Cobras couldn’t have pulled it off without the all-around contributions of players like Korby Strube and Wyatt Olberding, talking the momentum Richter created and rolling with it.
“He played amazing, he did, but it was everyone else doing their job that allowed us to extend the lead,” Brown said. “Zane got us the lead in the first quarter. He did. It was almost all him, and then it was a team effort to go ahead and take it from 10 to 15 to 22 to end the game.”
As well as Jackson Heights played on Tuesday, Brown said his players know their toughest challenges lay ahead. The Cobras may have snuck up on Silver Lake, but the won’t sneak up on any of the remaining teams in the tournament field.
The next team JHHS will have to worry about is tournament host Nemaha Central, a team currently ranked seventh in the Class 3A polls and one the Cobras cannot take lightly. Brown expects his team will be ready, but knows however the rest of the tournament plays out for his team that it will take the Cobras’ “A” game to have some more success.
“It may take our best game, but I think our best game is good enough to compete in both of these next two games, so we’re looking forward to it,” Brown said.
Jackson Heights (8-1), the ninth-ranked team in Class 2A, and Nemaha Central will face off at 8 p.m. on Thursday and depending on the outcome, the Cobras will play at either 5:30 or 7 p.m. on Saturday against either Falls City (Neb.) or Marysville.
Jan. 20, 2015
JH: Richter 12 (4) 3-3 31, Olberding 4 (1) 2-3 11, Slocum 3 1-4 7, Strube 2 (1) 1-2 6, Dohl 1 1-2 3, S. Holliday 1 0-0 2, Sauvage 0 2-2 2, L. Holliday 0 1-2 1. Totals- 23 (6) 11-18 63.
SL: Wolfley 3 6-9 12, Wagner 3 (3) 0-0 9, Hallacy 0 6-6 6, Matzke 2 (1) 1-2 6, Damman 2 0-0 4, Henderson 2 0-1 4, Freeman 1 (1) 0-0 3, Byers 1 0-0 2, Baird 0 2-4 2. Totals- 14 (5) 15-22 48.
Rebounding: JH- 29 (Richter 9, Olberding 8, Strube 4); SL: 28 (Wolfley 10, Henderson 6, Hallacy 3, Baird 3).
Assists: JH- 16 (Olberding 5, Strube 4, Jacobsen 3); SL- 11 (Renfro 4, Hallacy 2, Freeman 2).
Turnovers: JH- 15; SL- 20.