The Adams Central boys basketball team is in the midst of a tough stretch in the season. Going into Saturday, the Patriots were coming off wins against Lexington and St. Paul, who are a combined 18-8 on the year. And the first of three straight upcoming opponents with similar records was Doniphan-Trumbull, which ventured to Patriot Gymnasium on Saturday.
AC knew it had to get out to a quick start against a Cardinals team which won eight of its first nine games. But the Patriots quickly asserted themselves as the aggressors, as a 24-4 run in the first quarter led to a 70-41 rout.
“We just try to make sure that we’re the aggressors in every game,” said Adams Central’s Tyler Slechta. “We want to focus on being aggressive, owning the situation, and just playing every game like it’s the last one of our season.
The Patriots’ aggressive mentality was evident on both sides of the ball. AC’s defense limited Doniphan-Trumbull to just four field goal attempts in the entire first quarter, and the offense got up and down the court in a rapid pace, leading to a 9-for-14 shooting performance and a 24-6 lead.
Slechta was perhaps the epitome of the Patriots’ aggressive mentality. The senior was in the face of D-T’s ball handlers, hauling down rebounds, and scoring inside the paint. In a trip up and down the court, he recorded a steal on the defensive end, hustled for an offensive rebound while saving the ball from going out of bounds, and then scored later in the possession.
Slechta said it was all in a day’s work.
“When you’re in the game, you just get locked in. I just felt like I was out there doing whatever I could to make the play,” he said. “(On that play) I just tried to time my feet right near the sideline like a wide receiver — flashback to football season — and then Dante (Boelhower) found me with a great pass and it was just a great play.”
Adams Central’s 1-3-1 defense didn’t allow a field goal until the buzzer sounded to mark the end of the first quarter. D-T’s Griffin Hendricks raced down the court after a Patriots’ basket and laid in a bucket for the Cardinals’ first field goal of the game.
But the AC defense continued to stifle Doniphan-Trumbull in the second frame. The Cardinals were held to 4-for-20 shooting (20 percent) in the first half, as many of their possessions ate up big chunks off the clock as they tried to find any resemblance of a good shot attempt.
“That’s the best 1-3-1 we’ve seen all year,” said Doniphan-Trumbull head coach Kelan Buhr. “I thought early on, we were just back on our heels, so we had some long possessions and weren’t able to get the looks we were hoping to get. Give them credit, their defense is very, very good.”
Meanwhile, the Adams Central offense never slowed down. The Patriots scored at least 14 points in each quarter and got scoring from 10 different players. AC was 16-for-28 (57.1 percent) in the first half en route to a 41-13 lead at the break. Most of the second half was played by the Patriots’ second unit, but it still shot 50 percent (11-for-22) to wrap up the 29-point win.
Slechta led all scorers with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Travis Nieymeyer was the only other Patriot in double figures with 11 points while every other AC player that scored had at least three points. Niemeyer also led Adams Central with six rebounds.
Keithan Stafford tallied a team-high 10 points for Doniphan-Trumbull, while Myles Sadd hauled in five boards to lead the team. The Cardinals finished the game 13-for-46 (28.3 percent) from the floor and 3-for-18 (16.7) from 3-point range.
After going 8-1 to start the year, Doniphan-Trumbull has now lost three of its last four — though, two of those are to ranked opponents (Adams Central and Grand Island Central Catholic) which combine for a record of 25-1. The Cardinals will hope to get back on the winning track on Tuesday, when they travel to Gibbon in a game that was rescheduled from Friday.
“We have some goals that are still in tact. Gibbon is a much improved team from a year ago...It’s going to be a ball game,” Buhr said. “Then, we’re going to be creeping up on our conference tournament, which is going to be crazy. There are five or six teams that have a shot at beating anybody on a given night, and on the flip side can be beat by anybody. But we have a big one on Tuesday. We have to get over (Saturday’s) loss and focus in on Gibbon.”
As for Adams Central, the team is now 13-0. Over the previous 16 seasons, no AC team has won 13 straight games to start the season, despite going 12-0 three times (the last in the 2012-13 season). However, Slechta said he and the Patriots aren’t focused on their record.
“Personally, I don’t focus on it (being unbeaten). Whenever it’s mentioned that we’re whatever-and-0 I’m just like, ‘Well, that’s nice but that’s not important to us,’ ” Slechta said. “On our goal sheets at the beginning of the season, we were all focused on the end of the year, not being 13-0.”
But the Patriots, ranked third in Class C-1, still have plenty of tests left this season, including dates with Class B No. 2 Hastings (12-0), Class C-2 No. 3 GICC (12-1), and crosstown rival St. Cecilia (8-7). But first, Adams Central will hit the road for a game against Class B foe Northwest (8-5) on Tuesday.
D-T (9-4).................6 7 11 17 — 41
AC (13-0)..............24 17 14 15 — 70
Myles Sadd 2-13 0-0 4, Cade Sterner 1-6 3-3 5, Griffin Hendricks 3-7 1-4 7, Riley Carpenter 1-5 0-0 2, Keithan Stafford 3-7 3-4 10, Angelo Shafer 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Stock 1-2 4-8 6, Blake Detamore 0-3 0-0 0, Ethan Smith 1-1 1-2 4, Carter Schultz 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 13-46 12-20
Adams Central (70)
Tyler Slechta 7-10 0-0 17, Lucas Bohlen 1-3 0-0 3, Dante Boelhower 3-3 0-0 6, Cam Foster 3-9 0-0 8, Gavin Lipovsky 3-5 0-1 7, Nathan Anderson 3-4 0-0 7, Drew Vonderfecht 1-1 1-2 3, Travis Niemeyer 4-6 1-2 11, Slade Smith 1-1 0-0 3, Cameron Lancaster 1-3 2-3 5, Makena Lindblad 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Eckhardt 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Sughroue 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 27-50 6-9 70.
Three-point field goals — DT 3-18 (Sadd 0-6, Sterner 0-3, Carpenter 0-2, Stafford 1-4, Detamore 0-1, Smith 1-1, Schultz 1-1); AC 10-25 (Slechta 1-1, Bohlen 1-2, Foster 2-6, Lipovsky 1-3, Anderson 1-2, Niemeyer 2-3, Smith 1-1, Lancaster 1-3, Eckhardt 0-1, Sughroue 0-3). Rebounds — DT 22 (Sadd 5), AC 36 (Niemeyer 6). Turnovers — DT 12, AC 12.