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

Broncos’ season draws to a close at District Tournament

 

February 22, 2018

EASTON NELSON looks to pass to a teammate before pulling up to take a short jump shot for the Broncos during their District Tournament game against Davenport on Feb. 15. The Broncos were knocked out of the tournament following losses to Liberty and Davenport. -Journal photo by Katelin Davidson

The Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos ended their season on the hardwood at the District Tournament following losses to the Liberty Lancers and the Davenport Gorillas.

While the Broncos ended their season on a loss, Head Coach Dustan Arlt said he is pleased with the team’s performance in the tournament and their dedication to the program to have a successful season.

The Broncos first matched up against Liberty on Feb. 13 and were handed their first loss of the District Tournament: 62-55.

Arlt said the game was a huge opportunity for the Broncos to compete against one of the top five teams in the state and a chance to move onto the Regional Tournament.

Liberty and LRS matched up twice during regular season competition, with the Broncos losing by 33 points in the first match up and only by seven points the second time.

Arlt said the difference between the two games gave the Broncos confidence moving into the District competition, and the team knew as long as they could take care of the ball, LRS had an opportunity to defeat the Lancers.

In Districts, the Broncos led Liberty by three points at the end of the first quarter. Arlt said the two teams matched up well and remained competitive on both ends of the court. LRS had a few athletes in foul trouble during the second quarter, leading to bench players stepping in to play crucial roles.

Jack Anderson and Cole Cameron helped the team remain competitive at the end of the quarter, with Cameron scoring his first varsity basket of his high school career.

Arlt said the Broncos proved their depth and abilities on the court by taking care of the ball and not allowing Liberty to build a lead.

By halftime, the Lancers had tied the game at 28 and the Broncos had an opportunity to discuss strategy for the second half. Arlt said he was pleased with the Broncos’ intensity on the court and determination, but knew they needed to work on building a lead early in the third quarter.

Arlt said the Lancers were able to jump out with the lead quickly, and the Broncos trailed for the remainder of the quarter.

Neither team had a strong scoring quarter, and LRS was only down by three moving into the fourth quarter.

During the final quarter, the Lancers slowly pull farther ahead of the Broncos. Arlt said LRS tried to shut down their offensive, poor rebounding allowed Liberty with rebounding and put-back points.

Arlt added the Broncos had multiple turnovers in the fourth quarter, contributing to the Lancers opportunity to move ahead in scoring.

The Lancers benefited from experienced athletes and a lot of returning players from previous season, and Arlt said they are a strong athletic team. While the Broncos cut the Lancers lead to seven late in the game, the Broncos struggled to block out and stop Liberty’s scoring.

Arlt said if the Broncos had been able to make a couple more shots and pull down more rebounds, LRS could have closed the scoring gap or won the game. He added he was happy with how the Broncos performed, especially since Liberty came into the game with 19-2 record and only lost to St. George’s by two points in the championship game later in the week.

The Broncos lacked multiple athletes scoring in double digits, and Arlt said it made the difference of the game.

Camden Smith led the team in scoring with 15 points, with 7-8 shooting for the night and also brought down 11 rebounds.

Austin Thompson ended the night with 11 points, followed by Easton Nelson with nine and Bryce Kelly with eight points.

The loss moved the Broncos into a loser-out game on Feb. 15 against the Davenport Gorillas.

Arlt said he was concerned about the game, as Davenport benefits from having seven strong athletes, five of which are seniors, and brought more experience to the court.

The Broncos knocked Davenport out of Districts last year, and upset them during regular season play this year, and Arlt knew they would be motivated to earn the win over the Broncos.

The Gorillas came out with a sense of urgency and immediately started hitting shots. The Broncos would be unable to make up the scoring deficit the remainder of the game, and Davenport earned the 64-52 win.

Arlt said he anticipated the strong start from Davenport, but did not expect their success shooting at the perimeter. Davenport went 9-19 for 3-pointers in the game, and sank six of them in the first half.

Arlt gave credit to the Gorillas for being ready to play and knocking down shots early, but their success sent the Broncos into panic mode, especially in the second quarter.

The Broncos began forcing outside shots in an attempt to bring the score closer together, but Arlt said the team needed to regain composure instead of throwing up poor shots.

Davenport held the game between 10-12 points for the remainder of the game until midway through the fourth quarter. The Broncos cut the Gorillas lead to six, but Davenport was able to come back and hit key shots to regain a larger scoring advantage.

Arlt said he was pleased with how LRS kept battling and truly made Davenport work for the win.

The Broncos only had 11 turnovers in the game, which is the lowest amount this season against a quality team. They also only gave up five offensive rebounds.

“It was definitely disappointing to lose out on a winnable game,” Arlt stated. “But I think Davenport won the game more than we lost it.”

Arlt said the difference of the game was in the amount of experience Davenport brought to the court, and their improved shooting during the contest.

Kelly led the team in scoring with 19 points, and also had five rebounds. Smith added nine points and five rebounds, while Thompson had eight points and three assists. Shontz Yaeger added three assists for the team.

Looking forward to next season, Arlt said the Broncos have a good opportunity to be competitive in the league. The majority of teams are losing more seniors from their starting lineup, and Arlt said the Broncos will retain a strong core group of athletes.

The Broncos will be lacking size with the loss of Nelson and Smith, but Arlt said the junior varsity Broncos team has had a lot of success this season, and he will be looking for athletes to step up to the challenge to fill the empty positions.

Arlt said the team’s goal next year will be to outwork and outsmart their opponents and use their quickness to their advantage. The keys to success will be hustle and toughness, he stated.

Chewelah will be joining the league next year, which will bring changes to the Broncos schedule.

LRS will only play teams in their half of the league during regular season, and can play teams from the other half of the league, but only in nonleague games.

As the year comes to a close, Arlt said he is glad the team had a successful season and made steady improvements throughout the year.

He is looking forward to what next season brings, and seeing how team competes and improves.

 

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