Jackson Heights boys dominate McLouth at home to open postseason play
Moving into postseason play, Jackson Heights boys basketball coach Chris Brown said one of the most important things for his team was to understand the sudden death implications of sub-state competition.
If Tuesday’s sub-state contest at home against McLouth was any indication, then the message was clearly received as the Cobras left little doubt in a 77-40 victory over the Bulldogs to advance to the semifinals in Valley Falls.
Heights jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead thanks to some suffocating defense and forced an early timeout by McLouth just a couple of minutes into the game. That short breather made little difference, though, as Brown said his team played about as well as it could play on the defensive end in the first quarter, limiting the Bulldogs to just three points and only allowing those off of an offensive putback.
“They’re a really balanced team. They’ve got a lot of guys who can hurt you,” Brown said. “All we were really focused on was bothering them with our press and when we don’t, get back and don’t give them anything easy. I thought that’s what we did a really good job of, contesting their shots in transition.”
“We’re also at the point of the year where it’s time to be a perfectionist and to want to excel every single minute. I thought we did a really good job of that,” Brown added.
The Cobras didn’t let up in the second quarter and started off on a 16-0 run that was fueled by the team’s pressure defense. While a foul advantage early in the quarter for Jackson Heights quickly evened out, McLouth seemed to have few answers to the Cobras’ press on the offensive end outside of free throws and putbacks.
“We didn’t want to slow it down. We want a high number of possessions, lots of shots, to get out in transition and we did a really good job of that Monday night,” Brown said.
Typifying the night Heights was having, guard Korby Strube pushed the ball up the court after another McLouth turnover (the Bulldogs had 15 in the first half) halfway through the second quarter and hit an off-balance shot while being fouled to help the Cobras extend their large lead, which blossomed to a 45-15 advantage by the end of the first half.
Strube poured in 17 points for the Cobras on Monday, while the team was led by another strong performance from Zane Richter, who finished with a game-high 28 points and was a perfect nine-for-nine at the free throw line. Wyatt Olberding also joined those two in double figures with 10 points against the Bulldogs.
Everybody who stepped on the court for Jackson Heights brought something to the table, whether it related to offense, a rebounding battle the team dominated or negating the effect of the various defensive looks McLouth brought to the game.
“It just seemed like everybody was in the flow. I don’t think anybody played poorly. I never thought we made any huge, glaring mistakes and this is the time of the year to be playing that way,” Brown said.
As well as the Cobras played as a team on offense, Brown said that cohesion may have been even more of a benefit on the defensive end as the five players on the court at any given time played unselfish basketball to cover the court and limit the Bulldogs’ offensive options.
The foul situation started to get away from Heights in the third quarter and the Cobras started to settle for floaters in the lane, opening the door for the Bulldogs. With three and a half minutes left in the period, though, Brown challenged his team to slam that door and the Cobras responded.
“That was the challenge we made to them was to extend the lead because we did not want this thing turning into a grind-it-out win that you don’t feel good about. We wanted to feel good about it and I do,” Brown said.
Jackson Heights ramped up the defense once again and showed that balance, as three different players got steals and the Cobras got four straight lay-ups, including one almost immediately from Olberding, to push the lead to 66-30 and enforce a running clock for the final quarter.
The Cobra bench proceeded to handle business in the final quarter to wrap up a 77-40 victory, one in which Brown said his team brought a new level of focus to the high-stakes game.
That is something the coach was pleased to see as he noted his team will need to bring that same focus and intensity into a tough semifinal match-up on Thursday in Valley Falls when Heights (19-2) faces Bishop Seabury (12-7). The game will start at 6 p.m.
March 2, 2015
JH: Richter 8 (3) 9-9 28, Strube 6 (2) 3-3 17, Olberding 4 (1) 1-3 10, Slocum 3 2-3 8, Jacobsen 2 0-0 4, S. Holliday 1 1-2 3, B. Holliday 1 0-0 2, Dohl 1 0-2 2, Thomas 1 0-0 2, L. Holliday 0 1-4 1. Totals- 27 (6) 17-28 77.
McL.: Hermann 5 (1) 2-3 13, Bair 3 4-4 10, Courtney 1 2-2 4, Rainey 0 4-6 4, Willits 1 (1) 1-2 4, Gann 1 0-4 2, Troupe 1 0-0 2, Arnett 0 1-2 1. Totals- 12 (2) 14-23 40.
Rebounding: 38 (Olberding 7, Richter 7, Slocum 6); McL.- 25 (Hermann 14, Courtney 4, Rainey 3).
Assists: JH- 15 (Strube 5, Holliday 2, Olberding 2, Richter 2, B. Holliday 2); McL.- 4 (Bair 2, Rainey 2).
Turnovers: JH- 9; McL.- 28.