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Eagles 3rd In Class D-1 At State

On Thursday, top-seeded Bruning-Davenport/Shickley traveled to Lincoln for the first round of NSAA Class D-1 State Basketball Tournament.  The Eagles met No. 8-seed Sutherland (11-13).
Things got off to a fast start for the No. 1 seed, as Eagle Chris Rohr dominated early, scoring eight first quarter points and helping BDS build a 14-6 lead after one period.
“Chris got us going early inside and that loosened things up for some of our shooters later on,” BDS head coach Fred Kluck said.
Both teams continued to score well in the second quarter and the Eagles led at the half, 28-17.
BDS came out strong in the third quarter with Riley Tegtmeier heating up from the perimeter.
“It looked like they were more concerned with our inside play and some of our other shooters so he took advantage of what they gave him,” Kluck said.
BDS scored 15 in the quarter with Tegtmeier having seven of those points on his way to a game-high 17 on the night.  The fourth quarter saw the Eagles add to their lead and BDS senior Tyler Anderson picked up his first basket in varsity play.
“Tyler has been a strong practice player and a great teammate and it was great to see the players reaction when he got his bucket," Kluck said.  The Eagles pulled away and won going away 59-33.
Also scoring for the Eagles were Chris Rohr and Grant Norder who ended the night with 10 each, Cody Garland with five, four apiece for Kale Kleinschmidt, Sam Christensen and Ben Elznic, and three for Jayden Otto.  Grant Norder led the rebounding with seven while Riley had four assists.
Friday’s semifinal was against fourth-seeded 23-5 Humphrey St. Francis, who knocked off top-rated Clearwater/Orchard in a first-round upset. The game was played at the Devaney Sports Center.
“We knew they were going to be a handful after watching them beat Clearwater,” Kluck said.  “They weren’t as big as the other team but they were very quick and had some big bodies down inside their zone.”
The Eagles struggled early trailing after one quarter, 14-2.  Crisp passing and an aggressive double-team defense had the Flyers soaring.
“I don’t think we did a very good job of ball faking and accounting for their speed and aggressiveness,” Kluck said.  “We had a little bit of that deer in the headlights look for about the first 10 minutes.”
After settling down, the Eagles three top scorers got them back into the ball game as Cody Garland, Riley Tegtmeier and Grant Norder helped fuel a 19-point second period which saw the Eagles reduce the lead to 29-21 by the half-time break. In fact, Garland scored seven straight points to get the Eagles within eight at 23-15.
“Those three have been our scoring leaders for most of the year, and as they go so does our team," Kluck said.
Chris Rohr added some scoring punch in the third quarter where he picked up eight of his 10 points for the game and the Eagles continued to battle entering the fourth period down 41-34.  Three times in the final stanza, BDS came down the court having cut the lead to four points, but each time the Eagles failed to hit a basket.  The first opportunity was early in the final period, as BDS trailed just 43-39 with 6:27 left in the fourth quarter.
HSF hit enough free throws to hang on for a 55-47 victory and send BDS to the third-place game on Saturday.
"The start was obviously important to us," Flyer coach Eric Kessler said.  "Our energy was great, especially early in the morning...that was so big.  We have some quick guys, good speed and quickness.  The desire for us was big for us this game."
The HSF coach wasn't surprised that the Eagles kept fighting all game long.
"BDS is so big, so physical...they are so well coached, so disciplined.  They have beaten some good teams that's for sure," Kessler said.  "We ended up being able to keep them at bay."
Kluck was surprised his squad appeared tight to begin the game.  He also noted the speed of the Flyers was impressive.
“I appreciated the fact the boys battled and got back in the game,” Kluck said.  “It would have been very easy to just give up after that poor start, but that’s not the nature of these boys or this team...they’ve battled all year to get to this point and they fought hard to try to get back in it this time too.  We just came up a little short against a team that played well.”
But even with the less-than-ideal start, the Eagles clawed their way back in the fourth period and found themselves within striking distance.
"You use so much energy coming back," Kluck said.  "You make that fight to get to the top of the hill, but just can't get over it...if we hit one of them scores, who knows.  They will let you get back into it."
The Eagles were led by Cody Garland's 13 points, which included three 3-point bombs from way outside during the Eagles' comeback attempt.  Grant Norder and Chris Rohr each added 11, with Riley Tegtmeier chipping in 10, and Sam Christensen scoring a bucket.  Ben Elznic grabbed five rebounds off the bench to lead the way and Riley Tegtmeier had three assists.
In the Consolation Final at Lincoln Southeast on Saturday, BDS met a familiar foe in the Heartland Huskies, a team they had beaten in the sub district final two weeks earlier.  
“We knew their style, so scouting and preparing wasn’t difficult,” Kluck said. “But, they’re big and physical and on the third day of a three-day tournament that can be tough to deal with.”
In addition, the Eagles had knocked Heartland out of post- season play four years in a row in district competition so the Huskies had motivation and incentive to play a good game.  Also, the BDS football team stopped the Huskies in Henderson in this year's State Football play-offs.
Early on, it looked like Heartland just might get to the Eagles this time as they scored at will for the game's first five minutes taking a seven-point lead.  However, BDS has a strong group of bench players and when the second five entered the game they immediately went to work with T.J. Krupicka firing along range trey, Jayden Otto hitting a 15-foot jumper and Ben Elznic scoring down inside.  Kamron Ficken and Kale Kleinschmidt helped defensively and by the time the first-quarter break came, the Eagles found themselves trailing by only three at 16-13.
“That was so big,” Kluck said.  “If Heartland had continued to score like they had been early, we may never have gotten a chance to get back in it.  That second group really did a nice job of changing the game's flow.”  
The second period saw Grant Norder get into the scoring mix as he had eight of the Eagles' 10 points and Sam Christensen continued to clamp down defensively on the Husky's top scorer which allowed BDS to only be trailing at the half, 27-23.
 As the third stanza got going, it was apparent that the contest was going to be physical and BDS took advantage cutting into the Husky margin and taking a one-point lead as the teams went to the last period of the season ahead 45-44.
“We knew at that point it was going to be the team that kept their composure down the stretch that would win it,” Kluck said. “And, we have a group of boys that know how to do that so we were pretty hopeful.”
Heartland however had other ideas coming out on fire and jumping back in front by four on some strong outside shooting.  Two big 3-point shots, one by Cody Garland and one by Jayden Otto, allowed the Eagles to recapture the lead and when Heartland started to feel the game's pressure, the strong free throw shooting of the Eagles came through as the team combined to go 14-for-18 down the stretch to pull away for a 55-47 victory.
“I told the boys after the game that they really demonstrated how and why we play the way we do,” Kluck said.  “Some teams relish playing under pressure and some don’t.  We’ve been a team that for the most part, in addition to being solid defensively, enjoys the pressure of a tight ball game—when the going gets tough we’ve stepped up, and we did again today.”   
Grant Norder enjoyed an outstanding scoring performance for the Eagles, as the senior finished with 23 points.  Cody Garland added 10, Jayden Otto had nine, T.J. Krupicka, Riley Tegtmeier and Chris Rohr each had three, while Ben Elznic and Kamron Ficken finished with two points apiece.  
In addition to the third-place finish at State, BDS ended its season with a school's best record of 26-4 as well as a Crossroads Conference regular season championship (a conference which also featured State champions High Plains and Exeter-Milligan) and a MUDECAS conference tournament championship.