Indians 1-0 but plenty of room for improvement
The team opened with a win, but the Yuma High School boys basketball team definitely has a long ways to go.
The Indians, 1-0 after a rough performance in their 55-45 win at Wray last Saturday, are crossing state lines this week as they are in the Topside Tipoff Tournament, Thursday through Saturday, in Goodland, Kansas.
Yuma’s first game is at 4 p.m. today against Norton, Kansas, in Max Jones Field House. A win will leave them in the big gym for Friday’s 4 p.m. semifinal against the winner of today’s game between Colby, Kansas, and McCook, Nebraska. A loss today will put them in the adjoining junior high gym to take on the loser of the Colby-McCook game, also at 4 p.m.
Goodland, Wray, Burlington and Lakin are on the other side of the bracket.
Saturday’s game times are 1 p.m. for seventh place, 3 p.m. for third and fifth place, and the championship game is at 7.
Yuma rolled past Norton last year in the Topside opener. The Bluejays come into the tournament with a 0-1 record after opening with a close 53-50 loss at Oakley, Kansas, last Friday.
Yuma will have to show improvement in order to increase their win total while in Goodland.
The Indians, who remained ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A Top 10 this week, had only one starter from last year’s state championship team, senior Jake Chrisman, on the floor for the opening tip in Wray. Senior Steven Wells returned with key varsity experience, and junior Chase McCreath saw plenty of varsity action last season, but was making his first start.
Coach Dave Sheffield turned to several players seeing their first extensive varsity action, including junior Jonathan Rascon, and freshman point guard Clay Robinson. Sophomore Cade Morton made a big contribution off the bench.
“That’s all it was, a game one,” Sheffield said. “We showed the nerves of a first game. We were just a little bit fast everywhere.”
Overall, the inexperienced team hung in there well while facing several challenges during the game.
Chrisman picked up two quick fouls, sending him to the bench early in the first quarter.
The Indians trailed 9-4, but tied the score on Wells’ 3-pointer and led 12-11 at the end of the stanza. Another trey from Wells, and a basket by Chrisman, staked the Indians to a 22-16 lead midway through the second. They led 31-25 at halftime.
McCreath, who was having a solid game, picked up his third foul early in the third quarter, and Robinson later went to the bench with four.
However, Rascon stepped up with aggressive baskets to the rim, and a great hustle play by Wells pushed Yuma’s lead to 10, 40-30.
Wray’s improving squad cut the margin to five, 45-40, early in the fourth, prompting a Yuma timeout.
The Indians responded with an 8-0 spurt for a 53-40 lead, effectively salting away the win.
“We just need to settle in to what we do,” Sheffield said. “We need to find our identity on offense. We just didn’t that night.”
The biggest concern was the Indians’ 29 turnovers. They shot 49 percent overall, but made only three of 10 from beyond the arc, and just six of 16 free throws (38 percent).
“I’d say we were pressing and stressing a little bit,” Sheffield said.
However, the Indians did record 18 steals, moved the ball to the tune of 20 assists, and pulled down 41 rebounds. Wray’s numbers were similar with 24 turnovers, 17 steals, 12 assists and 42 rebounds.
Chrisman had a double with 17 points and 18 rebounds, along with four assists, three steals and three blocks. McCreath had 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks, Rascon nine points, six steals and two rebounds, Wells seven points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals, Robinson seven points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals, and Morton four points, three assists and two steals. Sam Uyemura led Wray with 16 points.