Smithville High School2441717
Ballard Community High School15191915

“What are you guys doing with your 26th game?”

The Warriors weren’t originally supposed to play in the 12 Courts of Christmas down at Hy-Vee Arena but when we ran into the organizers at the Savannah Tournament, having previously worked with them at the NCMC Shootout in Trenton, we were excited about a potential opening just before Christmas.

Four possible opponents, all great programs, and as it worked out, we were eventually matched up with the Ballard Bombers from Iowa. We got to work and it became clear very quickly how good our opponent was. Ballard has a student population of about 600 students, they are coming off of back to back Final Four appearances, including being the state runner-ups on a 25-2 season last year, they’ve become a bit of a powerhouse in Iowa. It was the perfect opportunity for us to measure ourselves against a great program; which mimics some of the great programs in our district.

Boy, did we come out on fire, stretching the lead out to 17-2 midway through the 1st quarter, we really played some of our best basketball of the season during that stretch. We were forcing turnovers with the press, knocking down shots, making our layups in transition, the boys played great. As champions do though, we knew Ballard would respond, led by senior standout Ashton Herman, and they did. By the quarter break, we only led by 6 and by halftime, we were down by 4.

The halftime talk was pretty simple, you’re in a great battle with one of the best teams in the state of Iowa at Hy-Vee Arena, you’re with your best friends on the planet; this is awesome. This is exactly what you would want out of a high school basketball game. Just keep playing. Keep playing! Both teams will make another run, we know that, but just keep fighting and we’ll see where we are at the end of the game.

Sure enough, as Cody Simoncic stepped to the line after an “And-1” w/ 32 seconds to go, we had the chance to cut it to 3. Getting down by as much as 10 in the 2nd half, we just kept battling, ultimately falling 68-62 but we were really of how our guys kept coming back for more against a team of Ballard’s quality. It was impressive. And exactly what we wanted from this game, outside of the L. Certainly we’ll be able to build off of this game and take that experience and translate it into something successful later in the season when it really matters. The flu bug also continued to battle us as Rhett Foster had to miss the game in which he would’ve certainly helped around the rim. Hats off to Ballard though, they played great. They came back the next night and beat a Parkview team from Springfield who had already had multiple wins vs. perennial powerhouses like Kickapoo, Lee’s Summit West, Logan-Rogersville and Helias which just speaks to how good Ballard actually is. Looking forward to keeping an eye on what they do in Iowa the rest of the way,

Leading us on the night, Keltin Nitsche had 16 points, Ryker had 13 points and Cody Simoncic had 11 points, Cody also led us with rebounds on the night with 6.

As we continue to try and get healthy and find some continuity, we can’t thank our fans enough for the support so far this season! It has been awesome! We’re back in action next week at the LeBlond Holiday Classic!