DONIPHAN – A basketball brawl broke out in the Doniphan-Trumbull gym Saturday.
But the Cardinals’ coach offered a different description following D-T’s 51-39 loss to Grand Island Central Catholic.
“It kind of turned into an old-fashioned street fight,” said D-T coach Kelan Buhr.
Both descriptions are hyperbole, of course. But the teams did play with the kind of physicality and passion expected from a contest with so much riding on its outcome.
GICC (10-1) needed a win. It had to make up for Friday’s loss to Kearney Catholic. A second setback would certainly knock the Crusaders off their Class C-2, No. 1 perch.
D-T aimed at staying unbeaten. Going to 10-0 would probably bump the Cardinals up to at least No. 2 in Class C-2. A triumph would also give D-T a psychological edge in the likelihood they meet again in subdistricts.
A big question awaited Saturday night’s matchup: Would GICC be able to physically recover enough from its Friday battle with Kearney Catholic?
D-T, on the other hand, enjoyed an extra day of rest since Thursday’s win over Ravenna.
The Crusaders showed no signs of fatigue. They broke away for a 14-6 lead entering the second quarter, their defense keeping the Cardinals back on their heels.
“I give a lot of credit to Central Catholic’s defense. Maybe stuff that we’d gotten earlier in the year was a little tougher and it surprised us,” Buhr said.
The always-hustling Cardinals wouldn’t let the GICC lead get out of hand. D-T doubled its first-quarter scoring output, spurred by a 7-0 scoring run that cut deep into the Crusaders’ 11-point cushion. The flurry lasted within a minute.
Andrew Stock jump-started the D-T run with a pair of free throws. Myles Sadd manufactured an old-fashioned three-point play. Blake Detamore drove in for a layup after a GICC turnover.
“I thought our kids settled in and did a nice job,” Buhr said. “After about the first quarter we felt a lot more comfortable. I understand having jitters in a game like this. Natural human reaction is to be excited, maybe nervous.”
The Cardinals came out of halftime looking ready to set the gym ablaze. D-T shortened GICC’s eight-point halftime advantage to just two points midway through the third quarter.
But the Crusaders never let their offense cool off long. Halfway through the third quarter, GICC put it in high gear for eight unanswered points, regaining a double-digit lead it kept for nearly all of the last quarter.
Six D-T players tallied points, topped by Stock’s 11 points. Blake Detamore closed with 10 points before fouling out.
The Stars’ got most of their offense from three players. Isaac Herbek and Marcus Lowery, had 16 points each. Gil Jengmer scored 15.
Buhr said his team will benefit from playing GICC.
“Being able to see a really good team like this, you’re going to learn from it,” Buhr said. "It took us a while to be able to compete in this series. I feel like we are competing now.”
The coach was quick to point out that Saturday’s loss doesn’t take the shine off any of the D-T’s goals.
“There’s a lot of season left. There’s a lot of goals that we have. We will probably fall in the rankings because we lost. But there’s nothing lost in our season goals,” Buhr said.
The two teams could meet again in the sub-district tournament. Buhr said he and his squad would welcome the opportunity.
“Going into sub-districts, our kids are looking forward to hopefully getting another chance at them. Ultimately, to be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”
GICC (10-1)..............14 12 11 14 — 51
D-T (9-1)...................6 12 10 11 — 39
Isaac Herbek 16, Marcus Lowry 16, Ishmael Nadir 4, Gil Jengmer 15.
Ethan Smith 1, Kaden Detamore 2, Myles Sadd 8, Blake Detamore 10, Andrew Stock 11, Jaden Williamson 7.