|Strong performances from Kurkowski, Jones|
by Pastor Vince Carrig
Plainsman center Kye Kurkows-ki fired off almost every weapon in his arsenal and enabled Perkins County to leave Gothenburg with a 49-36 win over the Swedes Saturday night.
Kurkowski flicked six field goals and six free throws through the net to lead all scorers with 18 points. No defender on the floor could stop his spin move, off which he netted three shots, his fade-away shots or power moves to the rack.
Kurkowski felt a more disciplined approach led to victory: “We did better at taking our time and getting good shots and making the easy pass–playing fundamental basketball,” he said.
Perkins County received accurate jump shooting from both Max Jones and Jeremy Hagan, who tallied 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
Jones likes to jack it up from the baseline. When not available, a turn-around shot will do.
Jeremy Hagan cashed in from six, 12, and 14 feet away. He also laid in an excellent cross-lane pass from Kurkowski.
The two teams wrestled for control of the game until two small third quarter runs thrust the Plainsmen to a 10-point lead.
In the first run, Kurkowski starred with jumpers from eight away and the foul line. Jeremy Hagan stoked the rally by putting back a third rebound to give his team a 31-24 lead with 11:45 left to play. Gothenburg wanted timeout.
Jones then churned the second wave of the rally by flushing a right wing jumper. Versatile forward Michael York then ran away and hid with a Swede’s pass for two, and Chase Lampmann recovered a blocked shot and handed it off to Kurkowski to complete the run at 37-26.
Guard Chase Lampann also whipped an impressive counter-directional pass to Erik Hagan as Hagan entered the back door.
“I think we played like we should be playing all year. We came out and put four quarters together and pretty much dominated the game from start to finish. Overall, we gave a lot better effort than the night before,” Head Coach Shawn Cole said after the game.
Lacking the real inside presence of the team in red, Gothenburg resorted to three point attempts and driving, flying layups. This strategy fizzled as the Swedes shot just 1-for-11 from behind the arc, and shooters flying to the hoop lacked the body control to travel at high speed and get the shot to fall in the same play.
The Plainsmen’s Michael York drew the challenge of quieting Gothenburg’s leading scorer, Landon Haake. York frequently blocked Haake’s path to the rim, as Haake hit only one three pointer in six attempts, and added only one more field goal and a couple of free throws.
“The last two years, I think Gothenburg is 1-for-39 on ‘threes’ [against us]; at the Hershey game earlier this year, Haake hit seven of 10 from the three point line, but he only made one in our game.
“Part of that gives credit to the defense that we played—Michael York did a good job of playing defense and making him shoot over the top [of him],” Coach Cole said.
Forward Joel Teahen scores five points in each half for the Swedes, taking long jumps to the basket before a couple of shots.
Guard Landon Haake, conceding 11 inches of height to Kye Kurkowski, took the opening tip-off for Gothenburg. With an odd strategy, Haake gained control of the ball by never contesting the referee’s toss, but rather by dropping back to guard the player to whom Kurkowski tried to tip the ball.
The Plainsmen took off with a bang and ended with a crash-landing of sorts, surrendering a fourth quarter lead to athletic Kendall Ferguson and Kimball and losing 49-46 Friday night in Grant.
Perkins County blistered the Longhorns 10-1 from the opening tip, with 6-foot-9 senior center Kye Kurkowski dunking a breakaway layup during the run.
But Ferguson, with Kurkowski on hiatus, filled the net with 14 points in the third quarter alone and pulled Kimball to within three points at 40-37. He amassed 23 points overall.
Kurkowski picked up two quick fouls and a few more through the course of the rest of the game, and had to try to remain available for the Plainsmen by sitting out over half of the game.
“You never know with some officials with what Kye does,” Head Coach Shawn Cole said of the predicament that unquestionably hampered his team.
“Sometimes [what he does] looks like a foul, and it probably should be, but other times he’s just that much taller and he can do things that most people can’t. He’s just got to learn what exactly the officials are going to call and adjust at the beginning of the game,” Coach Cole said.
Ferguson and his accomplice, guard Brady Land took full advantage of the opportunity the situation afforded them. Land scored eight points in the final quarter, over half of the 17 with which he finished the game.
“We kind of hurt ourselves going into the fourth quarter with the lead and having 10 turnovers—that cost us the game; only getting six shots in the [fourth] quarter—it’s tough to close out a game and win a game when you only get six shots,” Coach Cole said.
Land blew in two shots from far away—one from behind the arc and an off-balance one from just inside it—to give Kimball the lead it would never relinquish at 46-42.
Forward Woodrow Parsons dug up a critical steal and breakaway basket, plus took part in the “and one” action to help things go Kimball’s way.
Plainsman forward Max Jones played an outstanding game, piling up 16 points while guarding Ferguson effectively. One play actually saw Jones fleece Ferguson and bang it down the hatch.
“Max Jones played a great game shot the ball well. He played excellent defense; he was a little undersized playing against Ferguson, but he did a great job,” Coach Cole said.
Michael York chipped in 11 points for the Plainsmen, six of which came on just two shots. He hit a clutch three pointer to pull Perkins County two within three points of winning, but Kimball fouled him intentionally with :07 left to make sure York could send the game to overtime.
Ultimately, Ferguson’s long drives for layups and power moves around the rim scored Kimball’s first eight points of the second half and his 23 points proved too much for the Plainsmen to overcome.
Both 3-1 Sidney and 4-1 Dundy County come calling for 2-2 Perkins County on Friday night and Saturday night, respectively.