In a game in which neither side shot well, the Caldwell Bluejays stumbled into a victory, beating the Elbing-Berean Academy Warriors 38-27 Thursday night in the 2019 1A State Basketball Tournament in Dodge City.
The result means Berean Academy’s season is over with a record of 22-4.
“It’s really frustrating,” Berean Academy coach Lewis Wiebe said. “We played really poorly tonight. Caldwell does a good job, but it’s just not indicative of how we played this year, and that’s the disappointing part. We just played really poorly.”
It also means Caldwell will face Tournament No. 1 seed Central Plains at 8:15 Friday night.
The Central Plains Oilers beat Macksville 55-30 earlier Thursday night.
Caldwell shot 12 of 33 (36.4 percent) from the field Thursday night. Berean Academy shot even worse, going 12 of 43 (27.9 percent). The Warriors also went just 3 of 16 (18.8 percent) from 3-point territory, while the Bluejays went 2 of 12 (16.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
It wasn’t all bad for the Bluejays, however, as they went 12 of 17 (70.6 percent)from the free-throw line.
Bluejay senior Jalen Risley had a game-high 17 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore Dru Volavka had 13.
For Berean Academy, Senior Kiegan Vogt had a team-high 13 points, and senior Devin Rust had 6.
Outside of those four, no other player had more than 3 points on either team.
The poor shooting performance, one that saw Caldwell lead 5-4 after the first quarter and 14-10 at halftime, was the kind of performance the Bluejays have had lately, Caldwell head coach Jason Marlin said.
“The last couple we’ve had have been like that,” Marlin said. “We’re finding a way to win when maybe shots aren’t falling, and we’re playing some tough defense and a lot of that goes to how patient we’re being offensively.”
The Bluejays, he said, have had some games like Thursday’s, ones in which the team had to battle and work to get the victory.
“We’re kind of used to it,” Marlin said.
Berean Academy outrebounded Caldwell 30-27 Thursday night, but the Bluejay defense generally held held up Thursday. Much of that was due to a height advantage the Warriors had, including Rust who was listed at 6’6.
This team wins basketball games by getting their hands on basketballs and forcing turnovers. They forced 14 turnovers Thursday night, committing 11 themselves.
They also, however, outscored Berean Academy 20-9 in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
“We just competed,” Marlin said. “We want to go compete. We’re the little guys in the big pond right now with our height, and maybe our weight, and we just want to show up and compete and see what happens. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”