Boys host Byers in Top 10 battle Friday
It’s time to get busy for the Yuma High School boys basketball team.
The Indians are in a stretch of playing four games in one week, beginning this past Tuesday at home against Chase County, Nebraska, continuing Friday in The Pit with a Top 10 showdown against the Byers Bulldogs, then returning to league play with a Saturday afternoon game against Merino, and then traveling to Sedgwick County on Tuesday for another league game.
“This was the week we were looking forward to, but we wanted to look forward to it healthy,” coach Dave Sheffield said. “This is our four-game stretch that will tell us where we’re at and where we need to go. This is the time of season we want to play a lot of games.”
The Indians are 4-0 in the Lower Platte Activities Association after last Friday’s 65-43 home win over the Holyoke Dragons. However, they dropped to 11-2 overall with a 51-42 home loss to Chase County, Nebraska, this past Tuesday. It was the second straight year they lost to the Longhorns.
However, as Sheffield alluded above, they might not have all hands on deck for the current stretch. Senior Jake Chrisman, who was all-state last year and is having another worthy campaign, suffered a lower leg injury early in the Holyoke game. It was unknown earlier this week how long he will be out.
His absence could be particularly telling if he misses Friday’s game against Byers.
It will be a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, won 58-54 by Yuma on its way to winning the 2A title. Byers enters this week ranked No. 6 with a 10-3 record and are No. 8 in the RPI. The Bulldogs lost their top scorer from last season, Austin Davis, to graduation, but return 6-foot-10 senior Hayden Mccuen, averaging 13 points and eight rebounds per game, and plenty of other upperclassmen.
“They’ll try to press and push up the tempo, speed us up,” Sheffield said. “Same M.O. as last year in the semifinals. We’ve seen a lot of presses this year, which is good.”
Merino will come to town for a Saturday afternoon game, meaning a quick turnaround from the Byers contest. (Only the boys will be playing Friday; the girls game will have its own game at Sterling later in February.) The Rams entered this week with a 4-8 overall record, losing 41-31 to Sedgwick County last week.
Sedgwick County entered this week 3-2 in league play, 9-4 overall, and will pose another test for the Indians on its home court on Tuesday.
Wray and Haxtun both were 3-1 in league play after Wray (6-6 overall) knocked off Haxtun (9-4) 71-67 last Friday in Haxtun. Wray has won three straight. Holyoke dropped to 1-4 in league play, 2-10 overall, with its loss to Yuma last Friday, while Akron, Wiggins and Caliche all have losing league records.
Numerous players stepped up in the win over Holyoke.
Chrisman scored Yuma’s first basket, then ended up on the floor injured. He was taken to the locker room. Then freshman point guard Clay Robinson picked up two fouls 3 minutes into the game, sending him to the bench.
The Indians trailed 8-7, and Holyoke had a little pep to its step, when Chrisman emerged from the locker room and re-entered the game with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
It was Yuma’s defense that sparked an 11-0 run including a hustle putback by Cade Morton on a missed layup and two 3-pointers from Steven Wells as the Indians ended the first leading 21-11.
Wells knocked down another three in the second as the Indians opened up a 30-13 lead, which stretched to 37-18 by halftime.
Chrisman spent the whole second half on the bench with ice on his lower left leg.
Chase McCreath, a 6-5 junior, stepped up with great hustle inside all game, Wells had one of his best games rebounding, senior Alex Morales came through with great defense, steals and lots of scoring, Morton really contributed off the bench, and Robinson led in scoring after returning from his early foul trouble, picking up just one more the rest of the game.
“We got to see a lot of our depth,” Sheffield said. “I thought they played well. Overall, I thought everyone who went in provided quality minutes, did a good job.”
McCreath finished with a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, along with two assists, two blocks, and three steals. Robinson finished with 15 points and four rebounds, Morales 14 points and five steals, Wells nearly a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds, Chrisman six points and four rebounds, Morton four points, five rebounds and two assists, and Jonathan Rascon two points and three rebounds while battling foul trouble before finally fouling out.
The Indians battled again Tuesday night against the squad from Imperial, but could not find consistency at the offensive end.
They trailed 25-17 at halftime. The margin stayed around that for most of the second half, until the Indians made a rally midway through the fourth. Rascon’s trey pulled the Tribe to within 40-38 with 4 minutes left. However, that was as close as they could get.
Rascon had 13 points and three rebounds, McCreath 12 points and eight rebounds, Robinson nine points, five rebounds and two steals, Wells seven points, five rebounds and two assists, Morales one point, three rebounds, three assists and two steals, and Morton two steals.