MAXWELL — It was a match up of Eagles and Cyclones at the Maxwell gymnasium on Friday for the finals of the Maxwell Booster Tournament. By the end of the evening, each took home a championship title as the Brady Lady Eagles downed Stapleton/McPherson County 57-27 and the SMC boys defeated the Brady Eagles 41-35.
Four minutes, 37 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Eagles and Cyclones found themselves tied at 35-all. But SMC found some late energy to outscore the Eagles 6-0 in the final two minutes, and 14-6 in the fourth quarter, in taking the tournament title.
SMC’s Luke Walz started the late run when he scored off a nice feed from teammate Alex Hinkle. With just over a minute left, the Cyclones missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Brady traveled on the rebound, giving the ball back to the Cyclones.
Walz scored again on an out-of-bounds play to give the Cyclones (4-3) a four-point lead of 39-35. SMC went 2-for-5 on free throws the rest of the way for the win.
Cyclones coach Matthew Brown was happy with his team’s performance.
“We just kept going with the intensity the entire game,” Brown said. “Made sure we never let up and finish all four quarters. The boys came out and played a really good game.”
Brady coach David Jacobs agreed with Brown’s assessment of the final minutes.
“That’s what it came down to,” Jacobs said of SMC’s 6-0 run. “They got the lead at the end and we had to do some fouling. They did a good job. Their kids hit some big shots and played good defense and we didn’t. SMC did a great job.”
Both teams struggled early as Brady took a 9-7 lead after one quarter. Down 6-7, it took a 3 from Brady’s Troy Lusk with 30 seconds remaining to take the lead.
After Brady (6-1) opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run, the Cyclones scored seven unanswered points to claim a 14-12 lead.
The teams traded baskets the rest of the half, but when Brady’s Bryley Roper banked in a 3 at the buzzer, the Eagles held a 19-18 halftime lead.
The Cyclones man-to-man defense caused problems for the Eagles, holding Brady’s Zach Mann to just a 4-for-4 performance at the line in the opening half, after scoring a game-high 34 points a night ago.
Brown said that was in his team’s game plan.
“Our focus tonight was to take him out of the ballgame,” Brown said, “and see what the rest of their team could do.”
Jacobs said that is the part of their game they need to improve on.
“[SMC] played man-to-man and I totally expected that after South Loup gave us fits last night,” Jacobs said. “We’ve got to get better at our man-to-man offense.”
Austin Starr scored a game-high 13 points in leading the Cyclones.
In all, six Cyclones scored, with Trevor Hanna putting in nine and Walz with seven.
Brady was led by Lusk with 10 points, the only Eagle to finish in double figures. Bryley Roper added nine points and Mann had eight.
Lady Eagles outrun SMC
The girls’ game between Brady and SMC was a game of runs. Unfortunately for the Lady Cyclones, it was all Brady. Brady also forced the Lady Cyclones to turn the ball over. Turnovers the Lady Eagles turned into points.
“That’s our bread and butter,” said Brady coach Lance Arterburn. “Last night we didn’t play very well and gave a lot of open lanes on the sidelines. We talked about that tonight and we came out and did a really nice job.”
Brady (7-1) began the game with a 12-0 run and finished the first quarter leading 13-2.
Valerie Most started the scoring for Brady by pulling up and knocking down a 10-footer and Josie Palmer made the Lady Cyclones pay by scoring after an SMC turnover.
Palmer found the basket again in the paint and Brittney Christophersen scored after another Lady Cyclones’ turnover. Christophersen scored again after a turnover and Sydney Widick put in two after a steal.
SMC (4-3) wouldn’t find the second quarter any more to their liking, as Brady went on a 15-0 run in the first five minutes. Dakota Terry had three 2s and a free throw during the run in putting the game out of reach for the Lady Cyclones. Brady led 32-5 heading into the locker room at half.
“You can’t beat that,” Arterburn said of the two first-half runs. “A lot of that comes from our pressure defense.
“The ladies did a nice job of playing hard tonight and converted on more opportunities than we have in the past. I was very happy with that.”
Arterburn was also happy when the turnovers paid dividends.
“We did a nice job tonight,” the coach said. “We did a much better job in converting steals into points. If that part can keep improving we’ll be having some good things going.”
Although Brady subbed liberally throughout the game, the Lady Eagles outscored SMC 25-22 in the second half. Nine Lady Eagles found the scoring column in the game.
“It was great,” Arterburn said. “We got to play some of the freshmen and younger girls that have come up to varsity. Got some good minutes tonight — that was kind of fun. It was fun to see them play.”
Palmer and Terry led the Lady Eagles in scoring with 15 and 12 points respectively. Most scored nine points and Christophersen added six.
Leading the SMC cause was Torie Opela with nine points. Kadee Cutler and Sammantha Riedel each contributed six points.