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After two league wins, Broncos prep for final regular season games


January 25, 2018

DREW KELLY releases the ball for a lay-in while a Wildcat defender attempts to stop him during the Broncos’ Jan. 19 game against Wilbur-Creston. -Journal photo by Al Stover

With eight days between competitions, the Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos returned to the hardwood on Jan. 18 to host Wilbur-Creston before continuing on the falling day to face Kettle Falls.

The Broncos had a strong start on Friday night, racking up a quick 10-point lead over Wilbur-Creston. LRS maintained the lead for the entirety of the game, eventually earning a 44-21 league win.

Head Coach Dustan Arlt said the Broncos then seemed to struggle with scoring late in the first quarter and into the second quarter, and he felt the team was trying to find their rhythm on the court.

LRS had a strong defensive night, holding the Wildcats to an unprecedented two field goals during the entire game. Arlt said the Broncos rotated between their 1-3-1 zone and man defense, and it prevented Wilbur-Creston from finding their stride on offense.

Arlt said while the Broncos had a strong defensive performance, they were plagued with fouls at both ends of the court. The Wildcats shot 27 free throws in the game, and scored 16 of their 21 points from the foul line.

The Broncos could not find consistency on the court, Arlt explained, and the touches on their shots seemed to be off. The team was still able to earn a 19-point lead at halftime, but the second half resulted in more trouble shooting from the field.

With multiple athletes in foul trouble, the Broncos relied on bench to continue the team’s success on the court. Arlt said he was pleased with the defensive performance from all of the athletes, as they held Wilbur-Creston to 2 for 51 shooting on the night.

Arlt said the Wildcats were able to pull down 19 offensive rebounds, but could not convert those to points. He added the match-up was balanced out by Wilbur-Creston’s struggle to score and the Broncos in foul trouble.

Overall, Arlt said the Broncos did just enough to earn the league win, but with the LRS team had played to their potential, it easily would have been a 40-point game. He added there were six athletes who scored between 6-9 points, and he hopes the scoring distribution will continue for the team, but that the amount of points per athlete will increase.

Spencer Gering had a strong performance for the team, and Arlt said it is good to see him improving and gaining confidence on the court. Gering went 2 for 3 on 3-pointers, and ended the night with eight points.

Bryce Kelly led the team with nine points, and five steals. Easton Nelson racked up eight points and 10 rebounds against the Wildcats.

Camden Smith scored eight points, and brought down nine rebounds for the Broncos. Austin Thompson contributed seven points, while Drew Kelly added six points.

Arlt said the Broncos need to improve on reducing the amount of turnovers in a game, as they had 19 turnovers for the night. Four of the turnovers were from offensive charging calls, Arlt added.

The following night, the Broncos went on the road to face the Kettle Falls Bulldogs and returned home with a 63-54 league victory.

Arlt said the Broncos returned to the court strong and scored 23 points in the first quarter. He added he believed the Wilbur-Creston game helped wake the team up and return to competition.

LRS knew Kettle Falls would be a strong competitor, as they have a comparable record to the Broncos and lost two recent games at the buzzer. Arlt said the Bulldogs are a guard-oriented, athletic team that shoots a lot of perimeter shots.

Kettle Falls is also benefiting from the instruction of a new coach who has brought a lot of structure to the program, Arlt explained. As an improved team, Arlt said the Broncos needed to focus on taking about the Bulldogs three-point shot, which LRS does well because of their length and ability to scramble in the 1-3-1.

The Bulldogs crept back into the game in the second quarter, Arlt explained, but the Broncos were able to drain a shot to regain and eight-point lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Broncos returned strong and built back up a 12-point lead. Arlt said LRS has struggled to maintain leads without letting the opponent have a scoring comeback.

The Broncos were able to earn a 16-point lead with six minutes remaining, but Arlt said the team then unraveled and allowed the Bulldogs to go on a scoring run. He added the Broncos struggled with shooting free throws, as well as making smart decisions on offense.

Not until the final minute of the game did the Broncos respond to the Bulldogs’ full-court pressure and were able to control the momentum of the game, Arlt explained. After a successful night of feeding the posts the ball, the Broncos again relied on their men inside the paint to post the final points.

Smith and Nelson utilized their size and strength well throughout the game, Arlt explained, and helped secure the league win for the Broncos.

Smith played hard and used his length to score 19 points for the Broncos, pull down 14 rebounds and earn four steals.

Nelson had 12 points for the team and 11 rebounds. Bryce Kelly scored 10 points and had seven rebounds, while Shontz Yaeger recorded five steals for the team.

Arlt said Thompson had a strong defensive performance, as he was tasked with guarding the Bulldogs’ point guard and leading scorer. Thompson was able to hold the Bulldog athlete to only nine points, and offensively, he did not have any turnovers even against tough pressure from Kettle Falls.

Overall, the Kettle Falls victory was a good win for the Broncos, Arlt explained. The team now has a 10-5 record, which is the same amount of wins that the team had last year after 24 games.

The Broncos now have a 7-5 league record, and currently hold a two-game advantage over Asotin, who trails them in the standings. The Broncos will face Rosalia and Asotin over the weekend, and a single victory will solidify third place for LRS in league standings.

There are five games remaining until playoffs, and Arlt hopes the team can maintain their momentum moving into post-season play.


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