SERGEANT BLUFF | Sergeant Bluff-Luton had just the right game plan and caught Sioux City East at just the right time here Friday night.
The Warriors utilized a deliberate offensive scheme and took advantage of a shorthanded East while upending the state’s second-ranked Class 4A boys basketball team, 44-43.
Victims of a 91-51 beat down Dec. 12 at East, Sergeant Bluff-Luton was intent on not letting that happen again. Coach Adam Vander Schaaf instructed his squad to slow things down and be overly selective when it came to shooting the basketball.
Also, the Warriors caught a break when East’s second-leading scorer Aidan Vanderloo and key reserve Javonte Keck each missed the game because of illness.
It all added up to a surprise victory for SB-L, which had lost three of its last four. Moreover, the Warriors snapped a nine-game East winning streak.
“I thought the boys played with such poise all night,” Vander Schaaf said. “We obviously wanted to do a lot better than last time when they just ran wild on us. The boys were very disciplined, very tough and poised and I couldn’t be prouder of them.
“We just needed to control tempo. East has a lineup of athletes up and down the bench. When they get out and run it’s tough to keep up. So we wanted to be a little more deliberate and make sure we got the right shots at the right time, maybe shorten the game a little bit, and we were able to do that.”
Ty Boekelman shook loose underneath for what proved to be the game-winning basket with 18 seconds left.
East had the ball last, calling time out with 11.4 seconds remaining in order to devise a play that would have gotten the ball inside to all-stater Van Rees. However, SB-L defended perfectly and kept the Black Raiders from getting a shot as time expired.
“Give them credit, they outplayed us and outhustled us,” East Coach Ras Vanderloo said. “When you play harder you normally win and they played harder than us.
“From the start of the game they played harder than us. I thought Cole Taylor did a great job on (Conner) Groves. Obviously we missed the guys we didn’t have but the guys we did have here are good enough to win games. But you have to play hard and execute and not turn the ball over.”
Sophomore Daniel Wright did a lion’s share of the scoring for SB-L, now 7-10 overall and 4-5 in the Missouri River Conference. The 6-6 Wright tallied 16 points, eight of those in the third quarter when the Warriors erased a six-point halftime deficit to go in front, 33-30.
“Coach put together a great game plan, he’s really good at that,” Wright said. “We just tried to execute it 100 percent. Coach has been trying to get me to play with more power and I tried to convert that into my game plan tonight.”
Jeremiah Khat, honored before the game for reaching 1,000 points for his career earlier this season, was also in double figures with 10 points. Khat scored seven unanswered points after East ran off the first seven of the fourth quarter to surge ahead, 37-33.
“Daniel played a great game, he’s getting better all the time,” Vander Schaaf said. “I was really proud of our seniors. Jeremiah hit the shot to tie it and Ty hit the game-winner. We only have two seniors and those guys are doing great.”
Khat’s 3-pointer with 4:28 left snapped a 37-37 tie before East’s Rees cashed in on two free throws. The teams traded baskets at around the three-minute mark, SB-L taking a 42-41 lead on a Sam DeMoss bucket.
East missed a layup on the other end and the Warriors rebounded, but Cole Taylor came up with a steal and layup with one minute left, putting East in front by one.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton took time out with 49 ticks left and Khat got free for a short shot, but missed and the Black Raiders rebounded. East, though, turned it back over by stepping on the out-of-bounds line, setting up Boekelman’s layup.
Jaleque Dunson, starting in place of Vanderloo, who is averaging 16.8 points per game, led East with 11 points. Rees finished with 10 points, but took only three shots the entire contest.
On the other end, SB-L’s leading scorer Conner Groves (14.7 ppg.) was held scoreless.
“Conner had to be the floor leader for us to execute our game plan,” Vander Schaaf said. “He didn’t score but I thought he played an awesome game. He dealt with so much pressure coming at him all night and really handled it well and got us into the things we needed to get in to.”
East, now 12-2 overall, fell into a tie with Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln at 7-2 in the MRAC and plays at CBAL Tuesday night.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton steps out of league play and travels to Denison-Schleswig.