Indians face tough league test Friday
The Yuma High School boys basketball team might not simply overpower their opponents, but the Indians definitely will keep on battling until they get it right.
The Indians are 7-0 overall and 1-0 in the Lower Platte Activities Association after a closer-than-it-looks 60-34 win over visiting Akron, last Friday night in the first game of 2019. They remain ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A Top 10 (CHSAANow.com polls) and are No. 2 In the Rating Percentage Index.
They just keep winning while learning.
“It’s continually putting the pieces of the puzzle together,” coach Dave Sheffield said.
Now the Tribe can focus on the challenge of trying to repeat as league champions. That task continues Friday when rival Wray comes to town for another LPAA contest. The two met in the season opener in Wray, with Yuma pulling away to a 55-45 win.
Wray is 3-5 after rolling past Burlington this past Tuesday. The Eagles are an up-and-coming team under the energetic leadership of rookie head coach Karson Kuntz, and no doubt are going to be fired up to pull off the upset in The Pit.
“They’ll press,” Sheffield said of the Eagles. “They will want to go high possessions and create as many turnovers as possible.”
Besides Friday night featuring a pair of big rivalry games in The Pit, it also will include the unveiling of the boys and girls championship banners, honoring last March’s double championships in 2A. Many of the graduated players from both the boys and girls teams are expected to be back for the ceremony.
“It will be good for those guys and the guys coming back,” Sheffield said.
Yuma has the early leg up on the league race, sitting at 1-0 along with Haxtun and Merino, who both won league games last weekend.
Friday night will be Wray’s first league game. Haxtun is 6-2 overall after knocking off Sedgwick County by three, 59-56, last Friday, and are in a rivalry game of its own Friday when the Bulldogs travel to Holyoke, 2-4 overall. Wiggins, 3-6 overall, hosts Sedgwick County, 3-2 and 0-1, on Friday, while Caliche, 2-5 and 0-1, hosts Akron, 4-5 and 0-1.
Yuma also is Burlington on Saturday for a nonleague game. The Cougars are 2-4 after Tuesday’s game at Wray.
Akron gave the Indians a good battle last Friday night in The Pit.
The Rams came out packing the paint, throwing every defender at Yuma’s 6-foot-7 all-state senior Jake Chrisman every time he touched the ball. The Indians had trouble adjusting early on, trailing 10-6 after the first quarter.
However, the defensive effort remained strong, the Indians kept competing, and adjustments were made. Trailing 12-9, the Tribe went on an 11-0 run. Jonathan Rascon started knocking down 3-pointers, Chrisman made consecutive baskets, and Clay Robinson scored on a runout. Steven Wells hit a trey late in the quarter, and the Indians led 23-14 at halftime.
“We had a terrible first quarter and dug out of that,” Sheffield said. “It’s just about dealign with situations they aren’t familiar with. We hadn’t come against that defense before but know they know what to do next time they see it.”
Rascon’s fourth 3-pointer put Yuma up 35-22 midway through the third quarter, and Yuma led 38-25 heading into the fourth.
Yuma went on a 12-2 run for a 51-29 lead, and ended up scoring 22 points in the fourth to win by 26.
“We have a lot of weapons offensively,” Sheffield said. “We just need to start games quicker sometimes.”
The Indians finished the game shooting 43 percent from the floor, including 50 percent (16-for-32) on 2-point attempts, and made six of 19 from behind the arc. They had 13 steals, 12 assists, held a 32-25 rebounding advantage, and committed 13 turnovers to 20 for Akron.
Rascon made four of six 3-point attempts while finishing with 16 points and three rebounds. Robinson had 13 points, five rebounds and three steals. With the Rams collapsing on him, Chrisman ended up leading the team with six assists, while also recording four steals and finishing with a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Senior Alex Morales started to settle into his only chance at varsity, finishing with nine points and four steals. Wells had seven points, three rebounds and two steals, Chase McCreath one point and two assists, Kobe Rayl four points, and Preston Blach two assists.