Sidney boys basketball coach Erik Kohl felt both heartbroken and elated following Friday’s game against Omaha Skutt.
The first-year Red Raider coach was disappointed to see the Class B No. 4-rated Skyhawks (Omaha World-Herald) rally late in regulation and then prevail in overtime, 62-52, in the semifinal round of the Western Conference Invitational Tournament at WNCC’s Cougar Palace. But Kohl, whose team led for much of the contest, couldn’t help but crack a smile after the contest, knowing how well and how hard his team had just played against one of the top teams in Class B.
“Our kids did a tremendous job,” Kohl said. “I’m really proud of them. They kept fighting, fighting and fighting. We pushed a good Omaha Skutt team – forced them to overtime. If I had done a few things differently [late in the fourth quarter], I think we would have come out with a win.”
Sidney, which opened its season Thursday with a convincing 74-41 win over Mitchell, took a 45-39 lead over Skutt when Paxton Ehler swished a 3-pointer with just 4 minutes, 25 seconds left in the game. The Red Raiders then went up 47-39 when Logan Lewis scored on a drive with just 3:52 remaining.
From there, however, Skutt turned the game completely around, thanks to its full-court defense. The Skyhawks’ pressure force Sidney into several turnovers, and Skutt capitalized, quickly putting together a 9-0 run to go up 48-47. Luke Maass gave Omaha its first lead in quite awhile with a jumper with just 39 seconds to play.
“They really pressured us. We struggled to get any sort of open shot,” Kohl said. “They forced a lot of turnovers, and they got easy baskets on their end. And that’s where I’ve got to call a timeout; I’ve got to slow things down on our side.”
Fortunately for Sidney, Lane Harvey drew a foul on a shot attempt with just 13.5 seconds left, and he sank one of two free throws to even the score. Sidney then got a huge defensive stop with time winding down – Harvey intercepted a pass near the basket with just a couple seconds left – to force overtime.
The extra period, though, belonged to Skutt. The Skyhawks used its power and height advantage inside to take control of the game. Brian Schwetschenau, a 6-foot-4 senior, and Zach Legband, a 6-8 senior, accounted for nine of Skutt’s 14 points in overtime. Legand got the Skyhawks off to a good start in OT, scoring on a putback. Schwetschenau followed with an old-fashioned three-point play to give Omaha a 53-48 lead.
“They attacked the paint. Some of the details that we need to do on our defense we didn’t execute, and they got the ball easily at the block,” Kohl said.
Ehler led Sidney in scoring with 13 points, and Sam Arterburn chipped in 12.
Schwetschenau led Skutt with 19 points, and Luke Maass finished with 15.
Skutt advances to tonight’s championship game at 6:45 at WNCC. Sidney will play in today’s third-place game at 3:15 p.m. at WNCC.
Kohl said he’s glad his team gets a chance to play again today. He hopes the Raiders continue to build on what they’ve accomplished already this season.
“We always say that if we want to be a great team, we need to pay attention to the details,” Kohl said. “We’re starting to get some of those details. And that’s going to be the key. If we do the small things, we have a chance to be a great team. But it’s got to be the details.”
Skutt (2-0).............................12 10 9 17 14—62
Sidney (1-1).......................13 8 13 14 4—52
Ty O’Brien 7, Chris Harrison 7, Luke Maass 15, Austin Trout 1, Zach Pohlman 3, Eric Ruden 2, Ryan Bouda 1, Brian Schwetschenau 19, Zach Legband 7.
Casey Mabey 6, Lane Harvey 9, Hunter Vowers 4, Paxton Ehler 13, Logan Lewis 6, Sam Arterburn 12, Lucas Rosenbaum 2.