FAIRFIELD — Sandy Creek was at home Saturday as it had a Southern Nebraska Conference showdown with the Superior Wildcats. The Cougars led by just three at halftime, but after some adjustments and better play the Cougars extended their lead in the fourth quarter while out scoring the Wildcats 15-4 and coming away with a 47-31 victory.
“I tell you what, we challenged our guys at halftime, maybe not to play harder but to play smarter. We had 11 turnovers at halftime and we said that we have to overcome that now. It effected us against St. Paul. It effected us against Deshler,” Sandy Creek head coach Matt Swartzendruber said. “Both games we won fortunately, but now we have to overcome it. I don’t know how many we had in the second half. I don’t think it was too many and that was the difference. You get more shots and you get more opportunities to score, obviously. We were a lot smarter in then second half.”
The first quarter was quick and a lot of up-tempo. Both teams traded baskets throughout the quarter. The Wildcats scored 10 points in the quarter with six of those points came from Hunter Healey. The other four points came from Jackson Gilbert and Dane Miller. Sandy Creek scored a total of nine points in the first quarter with two 3-pointers. Keifer Anderson and Josh Shaw were the two players who hit the treys, with Shaw going to the foul line to add an extra point. Micah Biltoft also contributed with a bucket in the quarter.
The second quarter was back-and-forth action with no team having an edge. Sandy Creek ended up outscoring Superior in the second quarter 11-7. The Cougars had buckets from Wyatt Mach, Hayden Shuck and Connor Crumbliss. Shuck stole the show in the second quarter as he was the leading scorer of the quarter as he had seven points.
Superior only had seven points scored in the second quarter with their first basket at the five minute mark. Superior got on the board with a basket from Miller, a 3-pointer from Connor Blackstone and another bucket from Zeke Meyer. Sandy Creek led 20-17 at half.
The two teams continued to trade blows in the third quarter, with Sandy Creek outscoring Superior 11-10. Sandy Creek had buckets from Mach, Anderson, Biltoft and a 3-pointer from Shuck. Superior had two players score, as Gilbert and Healey each had five points, with each sinking a 3-pointer. Gilbert ended the period with a buzzer beating layup to cut the deficit 31-27.
The fourth quarter was all Sandy Creek. The Cougars outscored the Wildcats 15-4, with Shaw stealing the show for the Cougars. He had 12 points in the ball game with eight of those 12 coming in the fourth quarter. He was the team’s leading scorer of the period, while Crumbliss, Anderson, and Biltoft all contributing with points. Superior had a hard time scoring. All of their four points came from Healey. He had the team’s lone made basket and the team’s two made free throws in the quarter.
“We’ve got to keep working. It is a long season. We are about halfway through. We just have to keep working,” Superior head coach Luke Chadwell said. “Learning and watching film and getting better with the fundamentals. When we score, we score in bunches and we had some droughts. We got our six or eight points in the first quarter were quick and then we trailed off a little bit. We just need to be more consistent scorers.
Superior was led in scoring by Healey. His 15 points led all scorers in the game. His teammate Gilbert scored seven points and Miller scored four points.
Sandy Creek had a big time game from Shaw, as his 12 total points — with eight coming in the fourth quarter — made the difference.
“Josh is a beast; we talked a lot getting the ball to him and not knowing how they are going to matchup with him and who was going to guard him. Our offense isn’t necessarily four-on-one but it is still post oriented.” Swartzendruber said.
The Cougars also had another player in double digits in scoring. Mach contributed with 11 points, while his teammate Anderson had eight points.
Sandy Creek will play next against Blue Hill. Superior will play at St. Cecilia.