Clippers keep it rollingAfter working all summer long to improve their game, the Strasburg/Zeeland boys basketball team has learned why the age-old adage is true. Hard work does indeed pay off.
By: By Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
After working all summer long to improve their game, the Strasburg/Zeeland boys basketball team has learned why the age-old adage is true.
Hard work does indeed pay off.
“We thought we were going to be pretty good,” senior Kyle Nieuwsma said. “We played a lot of team camps and a lot of summer ball. We won a lot of games, so we had a lot of confidence going into the year and it helped.”
That confidence had parlayed itself into 12 straight wins to start the season and a No. 8 ranking in the latest state Class B boys basketball poll released on Tuesday.
Standing in front of the Clippers’ 13th consecutive victory was the Central Prairie Firebirds, as the two teams met up in the annual Linton/H-M-B Jamboree at the Jamestown Civic Center on Tuesday. Strasburg/Zeeland had defeated the Firebirds 71-55 earlier in the month, but with a state-ranking and an undefeated record comes something else, as explained by Nieuwsma.
“You’ve got the feeling that teams want to play you. You’re undefeated and they want to give you your first loss,” Nieuwsma said. “(The ranking) puts a little more pressure on us, but we’ve just got to go game by game and don’t even worry about that.”
The 6-foot-0 guard knocked in 13 first-half points against the Firebirds, and led his team with a game-high 20, helping the Clippers cruise to 13-0 with a 69-42 victory over Central Prairie. Strasburg/Zeeland’s offense was rolling, as extra passes translated into 30 of 51 shooting from the field for just under 60 percent in the game.
Of the Clippers’ 21 missed shots, a total of 8 of those were 3-point attempts.
“I’m really happy today, when they move the ball so well,” Strasburg/Zeeland coach Brent Kleinsasser said. “They made that extra pass and it seemed we’d get a layup out of it or an easy jump shot. That one extra pass was big tonight.”
Defensively, the Clippers also forced Central Prairie into difficult shots. In particular, shots from beyond 20 feet.
The Firebirds converted just 5 field goals in the first half, as they trailed 32-14 at the break. The good news was 3 of those field goals were 3-pointers, but the bad news was that the team converted an arctic 3 of 14 trey attempts in the opening 16 minutes.
After leading 14-5 after the first period, Nieuwsma took over the opening 2 minutes of the second, scoring 7 straight, including a successful 3-point conversion to make things 21-5 in favor of the Clippers with 6:31 left before the break. Central Prairie’s Donavan Moser broke up a Firebird scoring drought that lasted 7 minutes, 38 seconds with a 3-pointer nearly 3 minutes later.
Nieuwsma kicked off the second half with a 3-pointer to make things 35-14 in favor of the Clippers, and Strasburg/Zeeland essentially cruised from there.
“He had a real good game. When we come to these big civic centers, I want him to shoot well and that was a big key for him tonight,” Kleinsasser said of Nieuwsma. “He shot well and we’d like to get a few others to do the same, but he was smooth tonight.”
Nieuwsma went 8-for-13 from the floor and a perfect 3-for-3 at the free-throw line.
“I just come out and do my part to win the game,” said Nieuwsma, the team’s leading returning scorer and rebounder from last year. “You know, I don’t have to score or rebound the most to win the game. Anybody can do it. Our philosophy is we’ve got five guys … any guy on every night can go out and score 20, it doesn’t matter.”
Kyle’s cousin, Cole Nieuwsma, and brother, Brody Nieuwsma, also got into the act on Tuesday, as they have all season long. Cole dropped in 14 points, while Brody scored 10. Central Prairie’s Hunter Larson and Brett Williams paced the Firebirds (1-12) scoring 9 points each.
The undefeated season and state ranking stayed intact for the Clippers with the win, but Kleinsasser knows there’s plenty of season left to play.
“It’s fun while it’s happening, but we’ve got Linton (H-M-B) coming up next week, and we’ve got (Kidder County) at Steele on Thursday night and they’re awfully good at home,” Kleinsasser said. “The state ranking is fun while it’s lasted, but we’ve just got to play it one game at a time now.”
Central Cass 65, Linton/H-M-B 60
Central Cass’ Ellery Bresnahan cleared 1,000 career points, and the Squirrels snapped a 9-game winning streak by the Lions that dated back to Dec. 18 with a 5-point victory over Linton/H-M-B.
“It’s extremely fun to get with the group of guys I have to get it with,” Bresnahan said of cracking 1,000 career points. “I just thank my team a lot for getting me the ball and trusting me to make my shots.”
Bresnahan reached the milestone by notching a layup in transition with 42 seconds to go in the third period. The 5-8 senior guard finished with 14 points, bringing his career scoring total to 1,004.
“He’s been playing a long time and he’s gotten the opportunity to play with a lot of good players,” Central Cass coach Mike Kegley said. “He’s just an exciting player. He’s got that ability to change a game in hurry.”
The Lions led 34-33 after a dogfight of a first half. The largest lead of the game up to that point was 3, once when the Lions’ Brooks Flyberg hit a 3-pointer to make things 3-0 just after tipoff, and again when a Flyberg bucket put the Lions up 28-25 with 3 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the second period.
Flyberg scored 12 in the half and finished the game with 16 points. Central Cass didn’t commit a single turnover in the first period, as the score was knotted 18-18 to start the second.
“With coach (Dan) Carr coaching, it’s a well-coached team and they’re going to run a lot of different sets to make you stay disciplined on defense, and we really got caught quite a few times not staying disciplined,” Kegley said. “I thought the kids made some adjustments and did a better job in the second half on some of those things.”
The Lions shot 52 percent from the floor in the first half (14 of 27), but went 2-for-9 from 3-point range. Adam Breske led the Squirrels at the half with 10 of his 14 points.
The Squirrels forged a 3-point lead of their own (50-47) at the end of three quarters, before senior Garret Ebach broke it open for Central Cass. Ebach drilled a pair of treys and scored 8 points to help the Squirrels to a 60-51 lead with 5:38 left to play.
Ebach led all scoring with 24 points and drilled four 3-pointers in the contest.
“Garret can shoot the basketball. He really can,” Kegley said. “He’s had some games when he’s been up and down … but he’s finding his stroke.”
The Lions were able to whittle the advantage back to down 3 points at 63-60 with under a minute left to play. But a pair of bonus shots by Ebach with 5 seconds left sealed the victory.
“They’re just an all-around great basketball team,” Bresnahan said. “They’ve got a lot of good plays put in to get back screens and stuff. Just hats off to them for a great game.”
Tyler Humann led the Lions (11-4) with 17 points.
“They’re a good basketball team,” Kegley said of the Lions. “They’re going to make some noise in this region and we were fortunate to come out of here with a win.”
Girls S/Z 51, Central Prairie 33
The Clippers’ Jennifer Wikenheiser scored a game-high 16 points, while her teammate Brittany Moser hit the only two 3-pointers of the game and tallied 12, helping Strasburg/Zeeland win its second game in 24 hours.
Strasburg-Zeeland defeated Edgley-Kulm/Montpelier 53-27 in Strasburg on Monday, and has now improved to 7-4 on the season.
The Clippers were hot to start Tuesday’s game at the Civic Center, converting 7 of 13 shots in the first period to take a 15-8 lead after the opening 8 minutes. Wikenheiser and Moser did most of the damage, scoring 6 and 5 points, respectively, in the frame.
Strasburg/Zeeland opened it up to a 14-point, 28-14 lead at the half, as Central Prairie struggled with both fouls and the long ball. The Firebirds racked up 10 first-half fouls, which translated into a 7-for-8 performance by the Clippers at the free-throw line in the second period, and also went 0-for-6 from 3-point land in the first 16 minutes. Central Prairie was unable to connect from long range all afternoon, going 0-for-12 from behind the arc in the game.
After a quick 2 points by Central Prairie’s Courtney Heupel to open the second half, Strasburg/Zeeland went on an 8-0 run to balloon its advantage to 20 points (36-16, 4:50), highlighted by 4 more points from Wikenheiser, and the Clippers never looked back. Heupel finished with 8 points, while Central Prairie was led by Jaycee Moldenhauer’s 11-point effort.
Strasburg/Zeeland led by as many as 27 points in the fourth (49-22). Central Prairie fell to 1-7 on the season.
Central Cass 58, Linton/H-M-B 26
Central Cass’ Hannah Breske and 6-3 Faith Dooley caused headaches all evening for the Lady Lions.
Breske poured in a game-high 19 points, while Dooley broke loose for 18 more around bucket, helping Central Cass move to 6-1 with a 32-point victory over Linton/H-M-B (6-3).
The Squirrels limited the Lions to 5 first-half field goals, which helped to build a 32-15 Central Cass lead at the half. Breske came up big in the opening 16 minutes, tossing in 15 of her 19 points before the break.
McKenna Flyberg led the Lions with 12 points, while Tiffaney Gerving chipped in scoring 8. Both Flyberg and Gerving hit a pair of 3-pointers in the game.
Boxscores from the Linton Jamboree can be found on Page B2.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org