Thunder Classic Jackson Heights Boys
Jackson Heights High School’s Cobra boys varsity basketball team finished sixth at Nemaha Central High School’s Thunder Classic basketball tournament after a tough 64-40 loss to St. Marys on Saturday night.
It was the second loss of the tournament for the third-seeded Cobras, who opened tournament play on Wednesday with a loss to the eventual second-place winners from Falls City, Neb. The Cobras were, however, able to bounce back on Thursday with a win over Horton to earn a spot in the fifth-place game against St. Marys on Saturday.
The Cobras got off to a rough start on Wednesday against a tough, sixth-seeded Falls City team, falling 46-41 in a high-energy game.
“We started out way too slow and got down seven points early,” Coach Brown said. “We battled back and tied the game twice, but we could never take the lead.”
Brown cited the defensive and offensive work of Kolby Rethman, who scored eight points in the game, including a pair from the three-point zone.
“Kolby got a big steal and hit both free-throws after being fouled to tie the game at 41 late in the fourth,” Brown said. “But from there, Falls City got back to the free-throw line and hit five out of six late to beat us.”
Leading the Cobras in scoring was Lane Thomas, who hit five of seven from the field with 11 points, including a three-pointer, followed by Braden Dohl with nine, including a three-pointer. Thomas also performed well defensively, getting seven defensive rebounds, along with Cooper Williams, who managed five steals during the game.
In the second round of play, the Cobras took on fellow Northeast Kansas Leaguers Horton and beat the Chargers for the second time in a week, taking a 34-28 win.
“It was a game on the back side of the bracket, so I knew it wouldn’t be pretty,” Brown said. “Horton held us to our lowest field goal percentage of the season, but luckily, we played good enough defense to keep us in it.”
Horton attempted to make a fourth-quarter comeback after being down 22-17 after three quarters, tying the game at 28, but Cooper Williams hit “two huge threes” in the final frame to seal the deal for the Cobras, Brown said. Williams’ nine points led the Cobras in scoring, followed by Thomas with eight points.
The win put the Cobras into contention for fifth place with St. Marys on Saturday, but they were unable to keep up with the Bears, whose Mitch Flanagan was a three-point-shooting machine, hitting seven out of 10 attempts from beyond the arc for his 21-point total against the Cobras.
“St. Marys shot the ball very well,” Brown said, noting the Bears’ total of 11 treys. “We have to do a better job of forcing them off the three-point line and into lower percentage shots.”
The Bears came roaring out of the gate to outscore the Cobras 18-9 in the first quarter and took a commanding 39-21 lead into intermission.
“We actually played really well in spurts, but we got into a little bit of foul trouble in that first half,” Brown said. “We let the game get away from us.”
The Cobras “battled back in the third quarter,” Brown said, limiting the Bears to eight points — the same total that the Cobras posted in the frame.
“We could never really cut into the lead,” he added.
Thomas was the top scorer for the Cobras, posting 15 points on five field goals including a trey, but went only 5-16 from the field. Dohl was able to hit five of six from the field toward an 11-point contribution.
Defensively, the Cobras’ Brady Holliday was able to get six deflections against the Bears, Thomas picked up three steals and Holliday, Thomas and Dohl managed three defensive rebounds each.
The Cobras are now (6-1 NEK League, 8-3 overall).