Smithville High School1621359

Coming back to LeBlond after a heartbreaking loss in the championship game last season, the Warriors were very focused on getting off to a good start in the first round. When the brackets came out, instinctively, we looked for St. Michaels, our foe from the finals last season, we were surprised to see that they had moved on to the William Jewell Tournament and had been replaced by Brookfield. With our opponent set, we were ready to get to work.

Incredibly, almost laughably at this point, we started the game off with our 7th different starting lineup in 8 games, due to an ankle injury which is still leaving senior Cody Simoncic sidelined for a few more days. Another chance for more guys to grow as players and find themselves in new positions on the floor.

Knowing we would have an athletic advantage, our goal for the first half was to put as much pressure on them as we could, score from our defense and get off to a great lead. Late in the 1st quarter, though we were up 18-3, we got a little stale offensively vs. the 1-3-1 zone. We quickly called a timeout and we flatly just told them, “We’re bored right now. You’re bored playing. And you can tell. Start playing.” They did. And we walked into halftime with a 37-12 lead. At halftime, especially when you’re up 25, it’s about finding goals for them to play for in the 2nd half. We challenged them to set an individual goal and our team goal was to win the 2nd half more than the 1st half, and we came out with an avalanche in the 3rd quarter, scoring a season best 35 points in the 3rd quarter and we were able to use that big lead to get some of our bench guys a ton of minutes in the 2nd half.

Leading us in scoring on the night was junior Spencer Engle who had a career high of 17 points, including his first career Varsity dunk. We were really happy for Spencer who gets more and more comfortable as he works hard on his game and his aggressiveness and he had a great game. Only playing 10 minutes on the night, Ryker Edwards had 14 points, Andrew Miller also had 14 points in 12 minutes and Rhett Foster also had 12 points in 12 minutes. Great to see 4 guys in double digits. Senior Keltin Nitsche led us in +/- on the night with +38, stuffing the stat sheet with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.

I’m searching the record books and it has to be close, if not certainly a record, but forcing 36 turnovers in a game, I don’t care who it is, that’s a big number. 28 steals in a game is also a school record, that I do know. We also had a season best 19 assists as a team.

Next up, we’ll take on a very talented, hungry and good Plattsburg team and the winner will move on to the championship game on Wednesday at 8:30 PM. GO WARRIORS!