The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

Broncos narrowly secure third place seed going into Districts

 

Last updated 2/8/2018 at Noon

CAMDEN SMITH watches as the ball slip off the rim after his lay-in attempt during the Broncos’ Jan. 30 game against Reardan. Smith scored eight points during the game. -Journal photo by Al Stover

Following four consecutive losses, the Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos were still able to secure a third-place seed in the NE 2B South League standings. The Broncos fell to Reardan, Liberty and Colfax during the past weeks outings, following a league loss to Asotin.

The Broncos faced up against Reardan on Jan. 30 and narrowly missed capturing the win, as the Indians took the 35-34 victory. Head Coach Dustan Arlt said, out of the past two seasons, this was the most disappointing loss for the Broncos.

While Reardan possesses athleticism and size, the Broncos seemed to be a step slow for the entirety of the game, Arlt reported. The Broncos needed the win to guarantee their placing in the league standings, but Arlt said LRS did not make Reardan work hard for the win.

Earlier in the season, the Broncos defeated Reardan 58-53, and Arlt stated both teams played better basketball in that game than the most recent match up.

With a sub-par performance, Arlt said he was glad the game was a close scoring margin, as that helped the team place third over Asotin in league standings.

Minutes before halftime, the Broncos had a 20-11 lead, but Reardan kicked up their intensity to cut the Broncos’ lead to six at halftime.

The third quarter was a struggle for the LRS team, Arlt explained, as they were unable to score for the first four minutes of the quarter. The Broncos had trouble finishing their shots, and struggled to get past the Indians defense during drives to the hoop.

Arlt said Reardan has five solid athletes who start and are competitive, but the Broncos could not get around their man defense. The Indians had a strong defense, but did not apply pressure, and Arlt said the Broncos still had 21 turnovers in the game.

Both teams had similar shooting nights, and both played solid defense, Arlt explained. With missed shots at both ends of the court, both teams had a lot of rebounding opportunities, but the Broncos still need to improve on blocking out.

In the fourth quarter, Arlt said the Broncos cranked up the energy and held Reardan scoreless early in the quarter. The Broncos managed to earn a one-point lead before missing a play at the post, which would have put the team up three and likely secured the win.

The Indians earned the victory in the final 12 seconds of the game from a Broncos foul, which moved them to a 1-1 foul shot opportunity. They sank both free throws, and before the Broncos attempted to push the ball up the court but turned it over.

Bryce Kelly led the team in scoring with 10 points, had 12 rebounds and recorded three steals. Camden Smith had eight points and 11 rebounds, followed by Spencer Gering with five and Drew Kelly with four.

On Feb. 2, the Broncos moved on to face Liberty and were handed a 56-48 loss.

Arlt said the Broncos had to keep the game within single digit scoring in hopes of still remaining a game up on Asotin in the league standings.

After an early out of bounds scoring play, Arlt said the Broncos quickly went downhill in the first quarter. Liberty was celebrating senior night, so the Lancers played with motivation and determination throughout the game, and LRS could not match their tempo.

Arlt said Liberty went on a scoring run, but earned eight points off put-backs alone, allowing them a 23-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The LRS team is still focused on improving on blocking out and taking away the offensive rebounds from their opponents, Arlt explained.

The Broncos used multiple timeouts in an effort to improve their offensive drive, and Arlt said it helped by making the LRS team more competitive and slowly chipping away at the Lancers lead. At halftime, Liberty led 34-19.

In the third quarter, the Broncos had their best performance of the game, Arlt explained. They cut the lead to seven points, and changed into their 1-3-1 defense to improve on rebounding.

Arlt said the Broncos were able to stay within single digit scoring from Liberty, but could not overcome the first quarter deficit. The LRS team still had 21 turnovers for the game, but Arlt said they improved at taking care of the ball and being patient offensively.

Bryce Kelly led the team in scoring with 18 points, and went 8-9 from the free throw line. Austin Thompson scored nine points and had five assists for the Broncos.

Smith added eight points and seven rebounds, and Drew Kelly had six points and six rebounds. Rounding out the scoring for the team were Easton Nelson with five and Gering with two points.

Arlt said at the conclusion of the game, and after Asotin lost to Colfax on Friday, the Broncos had secured their third place position, but they still needed to remain competitive against Colfax on Saturday.

The Broncos went on the road to face the Bulldogs, and returned home with a 43-30 loss. Arlt said it is always difficult to play Colfax in their home gym, but the Broncos still need to make improvements in their level of play before moving into Districts.

Arlt said the first quarter was slow for both teams as they struggled to post points. Colfax had a four-point advantage moving into the second quarter, but Arlt said the Broncos played strong defense in order to tie the game 16-16 at half.

The Broncos played a man defense for the entire game, and Arlt said they also improved on taking care of the ball offensively. However, the third quarter has proved to be their Achilles heel against good teams, Arlt stated, and Colfax quickly pulled away with the lead.

After hitting multiple 3-pointers, Colfax continued to chip away at the Broncos defense. Arlt said the team made adjustments, but the Broncos needed more leaders on offense to help close the scoring gap.

The Broncos had 18 turnovers in the game, with the majority occurring in the third quarter. Arlt said the Broncos also did not have many athletes score in double figures, which they will need to have, especially moving into postseason play.

The LRS team made improvements in rebounding and being aggressive, but Arlt said they need to keep up the intensity from the start of the game.

Drew Kelly led the team in scoring with seven points, and he also recorded three assists. Bryce Kelly had six rebounds, followed by Smith with six.

Arlt said Shontz Yaeger stepped up to provide intensity on the court, and he competed for every loose ball. Yaeger also had five rebounds for the Broncos.

Arlt said the majority of teams in the state would have struggled with the back-to-back games against Liberty and Colfax, and he was proud of the team’s overall performance during the weekend outings.

The Broncos move into the District Tournament and faced Wilbur-Creston on Feb. 6 in the first round of competition. Arlt said the Broncos handled the Wildcats well during their previous match up, but still need to remain focused and diligent on the court.

If the Broncos win against Wilbur-Creston, they will face Northwest Christian on Thursday, Feb. 8.

The District Tournament is double-elimination, but a single loss against either team would lead to the Broncos playing a Saturday game as well.

All of the District Tournament games are being played at West Valley High School in Spokane.

 

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