Jackson Heights boys fend off pesky Valley Falls squad
Based on Jackson Heights’ last match-up with Valley Falls, JH coach Chris Brown knew offense would be at a premium in Tuesday’s home game against the Dragons.
With the Cobras’ offense going cold for long stretches, defensive pressure was crucial and Jackson Heights kept it up for most of the game and pulled away late for a 54-42 victory.
“Both times we’ve played them we’ve struggled in the half court against them and both times it’s probably been the few transition points that we got that were the difference,” Brown said.
Early on, it was the Cobras’ three-point shooting that helped keep the team ahead, as seniors Seth Holliday and Korby Strube hit a pair of big shots in the midst of a 9-0 run that helped JH build a 16-10 lead by the end of the first quarter.
While Jackson Heights worked on the perimeter early, Valley Falls went to work inside. The Dragons’ size created some issues for the Cobras, exploiting some of the gaps in their zone defense, but Brown also said his team did a good job of not giving up anything easy to Valley Falls.
“I thought we did a pretty good job Tuesday of contesting their shots inside, making them five-footers, but tough five-footers, and did a pretty good job rebounding the ball,” Shupe said. “We ran up against some bigger kids, but I thought we played hard and that made up for it.”
Grant Haag proved to be a particularly tough player to contain as the Dragon forward finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds in Tuesday’s game.
Haag helped Valley Falls fight back in the second quarter and Marty Gatzemeyer hit his only two three-pointers in that period, including one to tie the game with a minute and a half left in the first a half, but Zane Richter responded for the Cobras and put the home team ahead 22-20 at the break.
It was clear the Cobras were focused on turning up the pressure coming out of the locker room and the team used that to start the third quarter on an 8-2 run that proved to be crucial in the team’s eventual margin of victory. Richter hit a big three from deep to give Heights an eight-point advantage at the end of the run and forced Valley Falls to take a timeout.
“The press is what generates our runs. That’s all we talked about. That third quarter we needed a run and I don’t know how big of a run we went on, but it felt like an 8-0, 10-2 type of run that gave us some breathing room,” Brown said.
Valley Falls pushed right back out of that timeout and while the Dragons broke the press, Brown noted that is only a part of the Cobras’ pressure attack. Heights can keep the pressure on in the half court and Brown said his team did a good job of that in the third quarter.
Seth Holliday in particular created some key steals for JH that sparked the defense late and allowed the team to take a 39-27 lead into the fourth quarter. That was in addition to a solid 12-point performance on the offensive end, which was indicative of the balanced scoring effort for the Cobras, with Richter “laboring,” as Brown put it, for a game-high 22 points.
“We needed some other guys to step up and we had that across the board. That’s what we want is multiple guys scoring multiple buckets when Zane’s struggling,” Brown said.
All five starters scored for Jackson Heights in Tuesday’s game, but the Cobras struggled through another lull in the fourth quarter. A 10-point lead halfway through the quarter quickly dwindled, despite a big bucket from Lane Slocum at the 2:50 mark.
Following that, Slocum was whistled for his fifth foul and Valley Falls then reeled off five-straight points to make it a 47-42 ball game.
The Dragons did not score after that for the final two and a half minutes, though, and Brown noted he was confident going into the quarter if the Cobras would need to grind out a victory, like they eventually did by pulling away at the free throw line.
“If it comes down to a free throw shooting contest, I’m usually pretty comfortable, especially when we get to choose who shoots it,” Brown said.
Richter and Wyatt Olberding were both perfect at the free throw line in the final quarter (and for the entire game) to help the Cobras secure a 54-42 victory.
While Valley Falls proved to be a tough out, Brown said his team proved it can do the little things to win those tough, tight ball games like Tuesday’s contest, which will especially be key if the Cobras and Dragons end up meeting again in sub-state competition.
For now, though, Jackson Heights (15-2) will set its sights on McLouth as the team will hit the road on Friday with action starting at 5 p.m.
Feb. 17, 2015
JH: Richter 7 (2) 6-6 22, S. Holliday 4 (2) 2-4 12, Olberding 1 (1) 6-6 9, Slocum 3 0-0 6, Strube 1 (1) 2-4 5. Totals- 16 (6) 16-20 54.
VF: Haag 8 6-8 22, M. Gatzemeyer 3 (2) 1-3 9, Brown 2 0-0 4, Allen 1 2-4 4, T. Gatzemeyer 1 1-2 3. Totals- 15 (2) 10-19 42.
Rebounding: JH- 27 (Richter 11, Olberding 7, Slocum 6); VF- 36 (Haag 14, Allen 7, M. Gatzemeyer 6).
Assists: JH- 9 (S. Holliday 3, Strube 2, Richter 2, Olberding 2); VF- 6 (Reichart 2).
Turnovers: JH- 9; VF- 23.
Valley Falls 45, Jackson Heights 42
Valley Falls 35, Jackson Heights 19