Napoleon, E-K advanceThe Edgeley-Kulm Rebels and head coach Kevin Strobel had just a couple of things on their minds heading into Monday’s opening round of the Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Tournament in Jamestown. And, they executed both to perfection.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
The Edgeley-Kulm Rebels and head coach Kevin Strobel had just a couple of things on their minds heading into Monday’s opening round of the Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Tournament in Jamestown.
And, they executed both to perfection.
The Rebels outrebounded the Strasburg-Zeeland Clippers 42-25 and defensively held their opponent to a single field goal for two total points in the fourth period, as Edgeley-Kulm cruised into tonight’s semifinal matchup vs. Napoleon with a 49-37 victory over the Clippers.
“All year long we talk about rebounding and playing defense, and it showed tonight,” Strobel said. “The guys played their hearts out and we move on to the semis now.”
Where they really hurt Strasburg-Zeeland was on the offensive boards. Edgeley-Kulm racked up 18 offensive rebounds and tallied 10 second-chance points in the contest. Junior Logan Hanson (10) and seniors Nathan Elhard (9) and 6-foot-4 Steven Giesler (8) accounted for 27 of the teams 42 total boards.
Hanson posted a double-double with 10 points, while Elhard and senior marksman Beau Diegel led the team scoring 14 points each. Diegel drained three treys on the night.
It was a different story when these two teams met up in Zeeland back on Jan. 16. Strasburg-Zeeland got that one 49-47.
“We played a different lineup,” Strasburg-Zeeland coach Brent Kleinsasser said. “In a small gym our big kids can play better and in a big gym they can spread us out, so I went to a smaller lineup and they still took it to us.”
The Rebels took a 17-13 lead after one period, and used an 8-0 run near the end of the second to go up by their largest lead of the half at 27-18 with 1:39 left before the break. Diegel and Elhard both canned triples during the run.
Edgeley-Kulm went into the locker room leading 29-22, and already had rung up 11 offense boards while outrebounding the Clippers 20-11. The Rebels also scored eight points off of seven Strasburg-Zeeland turnovers, and ended the night outscoring the Clippers 14-0 off turnovers.
“It was a really clean game both ways. I think we just defended really well,” Strobel said. “Their open shots were very limited and I think we contested most of them.”
Strasburg-Zeeland did come to life in the third, using a 13-5 run to erase a 12-point E-K lead and cut the Rebels’ advantage to 39-35 to start the fourth. But the final eight minutes were a nightmare for the Clippers.
Strasburg-Zeeland missed its first seven shots of the frame, including four from three-point range. Kyle Nieuwsma finally got a bucket to fall for S-Z with 1:57 left, but by then the Rebels had already gone up by double figures and led 47-37.
“I think we tried to get off quick shots on reads where we probably should have went to the hole more,” Kleinsasser said. “That’s kids. They sometimes get on a roll with those threes, and we were trying to find that timing and we just didn’t.”
Chance Kurle and Nieuwsma led the Clippers with 12 and 10 points, respectively, as Strasburg-Zeeland’s season came to a close at 11-12.
“It was a great effort, both defensively and rebounding-wise. I think the first matchup with them in the regular season was probably about even on rebounding,” Strobel said. “That was one point we really stressed.”
Tonight’s second semifinal game between the Rebels (17-6) and the Napoleon Imperials (18-4) should be a good one. Edgeley-Kulm fell to the Imperials by just four points (62-58) in the team’s second game of the season back on Dec. 1.
“Napoleon has a good club over there. They’re really strong inside and have some really good athletes on the perimeter,” Strobel said. “It just gets tougher from here on out.”
Napoleon 64, Central Prairie 54
The Napoleon Imperials received contributions from up and down their roster as they defeated the Firebirds for the second time this season.
The team went a solid 8 of 13 from three-point land and handed the ball over to their big man in the middle, 6-foot-3 senior Wade Rath-Wald, in the fourth, where he scored 11 of his team-high 20 points to help the Imperials reach their third straight region semifinal appearance.
“We needed him to come alive in the fourth, too,” Ketterling said of Rath-Wald. “We kind of told him that that was his quarter and to start taking over.”
Napoleon was in control 42-33 to start the final eight minutes, but a three-pointer by the Firebirds’ Nathan Denning with 4:09 left breathed new life into Central Prairie as they cut the lead to under 10 points at 51-42.
Rath-Wald promptly ended any comeback, however, with back-to-back buckets to make things 55-42 with under three minutes to go. Rath-Wald also hauled in 14 rebounds for the double-double.
Napoleon led 16-11 after one and 31-22 at the half.
“Our key was getting back in transition, and making them play a half-court offense,” Central Prairie coach Calvin Kraft said. “In the first half, of their 31 points I think we gave them seven or eight that we shouldn’t have.”
Playing in his final game, Central Prairie senior Eric Knodel went out with a bang. Knodel went 14 of 25 from the floor with three three-pointers for 34 points, while also pulling in a game-high 17 rebounds.
“Ridiculous. I can’t even explain it,” Ketterling said of Knodel’s performance. “He didn’t get very many easy looks. There were a couple of times he got some offensive boards and put-backs, which we wanted to take away. But outside of that, most of his shots were off the jump shot and contested looks.
“That’s all we can do, is to just contest his shots. He’s a tremendous player and he’s had a great career.”
Knodel scored 17 of Central Prairie’s 22 in the first half and he went on to hit a pair of three-pointers and score 13 in the fourth as the Firebirds (11-12) fell by 10.
“Thirty-four (points) and 17 rebounds, but you need to have someone else have a little bit more,” Kraft said. “We got 4-for-18 with Nathan, and no one else gets above four points.
“But (Knodel) had a great season, career and game.”
The Imperials’ backcourt controlled things early, as the team drained 5 of 8 treys in the first half. Napoleon’s Dylan A. Bitz swished four treys in the game, while Elijah Hilzendeger tossed in a pair.
“That’s my guards’ role, is to shoot the ball. They know that Wade and Jonah are going to command double teams and they’re going to get kick-outs and open shots. It looks good on paper, but that’s what they’ve been doing all year.”
“That was it. Say two of those rim out and you’re looking at a different story,” Kraft added. “But they didn’t, and congrats to them for making those shots.”
The Imperials have lost out in their last two trips to the semifinals, and another third-place finish is something Ketterling said his team doesn’t want to think about.
“It’s the hurdle that we need to get through. Tomorrow we are going to be playing like it’s the championship game,” Ketterling said. “We need to bring our ‘A’ game and most of the stuff we did tonight and I think we’ll be fine. But again, anything can happen like we saw in the first couple of games.”
Region 3 Boys’ Basketball Tournament
Jamestown Civic Center
Napoleon 64, Central Prairie 54
Central Prairie 11 22 33 54
Napoleon 16 31 42 64
Central Prairie —Eric Knodel 34, Nathan Denning 10, Brett Williams 4, Thaddeus Owen 3, Will Staloch 3. Totals: 22-64 FG, 3-4 FT, 18 Fouls, 38 Rebounds (Knodel 17), 8 Assists (Staloch 3), 7 Turnovers, 3 Blocks (Knodel 2), 3 Steals (3 with 1). Three-pointers: (7-20) Knodel 3, Denning 2, Owen, Staloch.
Napoleon —Wade Rath-Wald 20, Dylan A. Bitz 12, Trent Fettig 11, Elijah Hilzendeger 8, Jonah Schwartzenberger 7, Grant Wiegel 6. Totals: 21-54 FG, 14-23 FT, 7 Fouls, 41 Rebounds (Rath-Wald 14), 11 Assists (3 with 3), 6 Turnovers, 1 Block (Schwartzenberger), 4 Steals (Rath-Wald 2). Three-pointers: (8-13) Bitz 4, Hilzendeger 2, Schwartzenberger, Fettig.
Records: Napoleon 18-4; Central Prairie 11-12.
Edgeley-Kulm 49, Strasburg-Zeeland 37
Strasburg-Zeeland 13 22 35 37
Edgeley-Kulm 17 29 39 49
Strasburg-Zeeland —Chance Kurle 12, Kyle Nieuwsma 10, Ryan Miller 6, Corey Eberle 5, Jon Stabler 2, Mason Kramer 2. Totals: 15-44 FG, 3-8 FT, 15 Fouls, 25 Rebounds (Kurle 7), 4 Assists (Kurle 2), 12 Turnovers, 1 Block (Nieuwsma), 7 Steals (Eberle 3). Three-pointers: (4-18) Miller 2, Eberle, Kurle.
Edgeley-Kulm —Beau Diegel 14, Nathan Elhard 14, Logan Hanson 10, Tallen Berg 5, Jordan Nitschke 2, Lucas Madcke 2, Steven Geisler 2. Totals: 17-51 FG, 11-16 FT, 13 Fouls, 42 Rebounds (Hanson 10), 9 Assists (Diegel 4), 10 Turnovers, 1 Block (Geisler), 6 Steals (Diegel 2, Elhard 2). Three-pointers: (4-11) Diegel 3, Elhard.
Records: Edgeley-Kulm 17-6; Strasburg-Zeeland 11-12.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org