Chieftains seize Jaguars
Second half surge secures Tonganoxie win
After enduring an early season plagued by gut-wrenching, close-till-the end losses, the Chieftains finally broke out of their slump Friday, beating the 4-1 now 4-2 Mill Valley Jaguars 54-41 after exploding in the second half.
"The kids willed that win," said Coach Mike Webb. "They got all kinds of confidence once they knew they could do it."
But in the beginning things didn't go so well for Tonganoxie, which was victimized by the Jags' tough press for 12 first-half turnovers.
Those turnovers translated into a 27-17 Mill Valley lead.
"The first half I felt like the guys played a bit selfish no team ball," Webb said. "At halftime I challenged them and asked if they were going to quit on me. They accepted the challenge."
Behind six points from senior Scott Breuer, four points from senior Matt Needham and eight points from junior Bryan Gurss, the Chieftains outscored the Jaguars, 18-9, in the third.
At the beginning of the third quarter, Breuer drained a three-pointer that set the tone for the quarter and gave Tonganoxie its first lead, 38-36.
And the Chieftains exploded from there, with Gurss hitting an eight-footer followed by another three, this time by senior Kyle Rodell, at 4:45 left.
Then the Jaguars came charging back, at one point pulling to within four in the closing minute reminiscent of six other close games that the Chieftains lost in the early season.
But the Chieftains would not be denied. Red-hot free-throw shooting in the final two minutes iced the game for the team. In that time, Tonganoxie drilled nine of 10 from the stripe. Rodell made all six of his.
"Kyle really wanted the ball at the end, and he took over," Webb said. "He went out there with all kinds of confidence."
Although much of the late-game scoring came from Rodell, the bulk of the team's points game from the Chieftains' big men. Breuer and Gurss combined for all but 20 of the Chieftains' points.
Gurss alone had 21 points. Breuer had 13.
Webb said that much of the credit for the win belongs to his coaching staff.
"Coach Gilner and Walker deserve a lot of the credit for that win," he said. "They were pumping up the players, working the sideline always had good input."
The win moved Tonganoxie's record to 2-6.
Tonganoxie's junior varsity team's record dropped to 5-3 after losing to the Jags, 54-52, in overtime.
The teams were tied at 48 at the end of regulation play. The Jags recovered a loose ball under their basket and scored with two seconds left.
"I thought we played well enough to win," said junior varsity Coach David Walker. "But they played well, too, and sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other team."