|Plainsmen make early lead stand up against Chase County but Maxwell edges them for holiday title|
By Pastor Vince Carrig
Maxwell point guard Darin Williams jackknifed to the basket for 31 points and locked down the lane to carry his Wildcats to a 46-40 win over the Plainsmen and take the Perkins County Booster Club Holiday Tournament championship Dec. 29 in Grant.
Williams twisted and turned to both make shots fall and draw fouls. The 5-foot-11 senior won 21 trips to the line, and made 13 of those fall.
Williams took two breakaways in the second quarter and pulled Maxwell away from the Plainsmen.
With the Wildcats just having broken a 13-13 tie, Williams dribbled a defensive rebound three-fourths of the court, then released after center Jimmy Falcon stole a pass to give Maxwell a 21-13 lead just before halftime.
“He is a good player,” Plainsmen Head Coach Shawn Cole said after the game, “but we didn’t play our best game on the defensive end of the floor, [either].”
The teams essentially dueled to a draw from that point.
Senior point guard Josh Sexson answered back for Perkins County, slashing hard and gashing Maxwell’s defense for 14 points.
Sexson head faked his way to an open 12-footer and then marched a stolen ball the other way for two free throws to cut the Wildcats’ lead to two points at 21-19 early in the third quarter.
Sexson hit six of nine from the free throw line.
“He played a good game, staying under control for most of it,” Coach Cole said.
Maxwell, however, got what it needed in the form of “one-and-done” defensive rebounding and a padlock on the top of the arc.
Perkins County rarely got second shots after misses, as posts Jimmy Falcon and Ben Keller altered shots and kept the glass clean.
Point guards Williams and Cody Calhoun made entry passes difficult for the Plainsmen.
Wildcats forward Jordan Bailey had only a hesitation fake basket to his credit, and that from the ancient history of the first quarter. But ready when called upon, Bailey stung the Plainsmen with four consecutive free throws late in the fourth quarter to ensure Maxwell’s win.
Senior Plainsmen guard Nick Turner’s three pointer from straight away and teammate Max Jones’ scoop layup from the middle of the lane gave Maxwell cause for concern early in the fourth quarter, rallying Perkins County to within six points at 39-33.
vs Chase County
Kye Kurkowski cranked up his “spin and swish” machine and changed the trajectory of many Longhorns’ shots to punch Plainsmen’s ticket through to the finals of the Perkins County Booster Club Holiday Tournament with a 46-37 victory over Chase County on Dec. 28 in Grant.
Kurkowski recorded 18 points and capped the game with a dunk of a breakaway pass as the Longhorns feverishly pressed to overcome a five-point shortfall.
“It was the best dunk he has had all year,” Plainsmen Head Coach Shawn Cole said of his center’s effort.
The Plainsmen jetted to a 17-4 first quarter lead thanks to a few Max Jones jumpers varying from 8-16 feet in distance, and Kurkowski’s spinning and swishing of three shots.
Longhorns forward Jeff Banks gave Perkins County food for thought after hitting a three pointer like a pro and floating in two free throws to close Chase County to within four points at 34-30.
But senior guard Nick Turner dropped three quick points on the Longhorns with a corner jumper and a free throw to give Perkins County 37-30 kind of breathing room. Turner also nailed a three pointer from the top of the arc in putting together eight points.
The Plainsmen kept Chase County at arm’s length thanks to the shot-changing defense of Kurkowski, who snuffed multiple shots including one he dove to bat away. Longhorns forwards Tanner Stromberger and Daniel Regier spent part of the game figuring how to get around the roadblock.
Stromberger (13 points) used a double-pivot move to pull Chase County to within five points at 42-37, but Kurkowski released immediately and flushed the dunk to make sure the Longhorns tailgated no closer.
Stromberger also hit a shot from an area without cell phone reception: his last-second shot from the corner of center line and left sideline reduced the Longhorns’ shortfall to 27-16 at halftime.
The 4-4 Plainsmen go to North Platte to oppose the 5-2 St. Patrick’s on Friday night.
The Irish boast wins over C1 opponents Hershey, Gothenburg and Valentine. Sutherland visits Perkins County on Saturday. Sutherland’s record stands at 2-5; the Sailors beat Elm Creek 42-36 but lost in Maxwell 50-27.