DCS Boys Basketball Earn 2019 RPAC Tourney Championship
If you were in the crowd for the DCS Tigers and Paxton Tigers RPAC Conference semifinals game in Trenton on Friday night, you were treated to something special. High school basketball games don’t get much better. What a game. What an atmosphere for a game.
The Dundy County Stratton boys basketball team was on a mission last week, to prove they were the best team in the Republican Plains Activities Conference. To do that, the second seeded Tigers, would have to win four games in seven days.
The Tigers rolled through their first two rounds in defeating Maywood-Hayes Center in the first round 77-43 and Wauneta-Palisade in the second round 70 to 54. That set the stage for the semi-finals game against the west division top seed Paxton in Trenton on Friday night.
Paxton entered the game with just one loss on the season, an overtime setback in their first game. The Paxton Tigers were the defending RPAC Champions returning 6’10” senior center Blake Brewster.
The gym was packed with fans setting the stage for what would be a great game. From the opening tip, the atmosphere was electric and loud.
The Dundy County Stratton boys got the crowd involved in the game right away with a great start. DCS built a 9-point lead by the middle of the first quarter. Paxton rallied with the inside play of Brewster and by the end of the period were back to within 3-points at 17 to 14.
The teams battled back and forth in the second quarter, but DCS never gave up the lead. The score going into halftime was 28-26.
Paxton got their first lead of the game late in the third quarter and led by 1-point going into the final period 37-38.
DCS grabbed another one possession lead early in the fourth quarter. Paxton was able to tie the game but could never get the lead back.
With about a minute left in the game DCS was able to push the lead to 4-points. Paxton got it to within 2-points and then DCS freshman Corbin Horner floated a shot in the lane over a Paxton defender that bounced off the rim and went in to get the lead back to 4-points.
The next time down the floor the Tigers got a defensive stop and a rebound. Paxton fouled junior Keegan Krutsinger to put him at the free throw line with just over ten seconds left. He missed both free throws and a foul was called on Horner on the rebound putting Paxton on the free throw line with about 7-seconds left. They hit both cutting the lead to 53 to 51.
Paxton then fouled Nolan Burrell after DCS inbounded the ball. Burrell hit one of the two free throws to put the Tigers ahead, 54 to 51. Paxton had a chance to tie the game with a last second three-point shot but had to go the full length of the floor in less then 3-seconds. Paxton got the ball in and headed up the court, but DCS defender Quade Myers was in perfect position. Paxton lost the ball near mid court and time expired and the DCS players, coaches, and fans erupted for the much-deserved win.
“It was one of the greatest games since I’ve been here,” DCS Coach Kris Freeland said after the game. “They executed our game plan to perfection.”
DCS played man to man defense against Paxton. They doubled Brewster whenever he got the ball. He finished with 24-points, but as the game went on, the DCS defense got more physical with Brewster, often times sealing him completely out of the offense.
DCS had a great defensive effort from everyone who played in the game. On offense, the Tigers hit outside shots and attacked Brewster inside. They often used dribble penetration, drew the defender, and then passed to an open teammate for an easy shot. DCS played great team basketball.
Senior Michael Frederick finished with 24-points to lead DCS. Corbin Horner had 9-points, Keegan Krutsinger had 8, Nolan Burrel 5, Damon Latta 3, Mark Nelms and Cade Lutz each had 2, and Lincoln Waters 1.
With the win the Tigers moved on to play Southern Valley in the RPAC Championship game at the McCook Community College Events Center on Saturday.
The Eagles were the top seed in the RPAC east division and went into the title game with 12 wins and 3 losses on the season.
Just like the game the night before, the Tigers were in for another battle and one that would go down to the last second.
The Tigers led 12 to 10 after the first quarter, but only managed 5-points in the period and trailed by 5-points at halftime, 17 to 22. DCS turned the tables in the third quarter, holding Southern Valley to just 3-points, all on free throws. The Tigers offense managed just 10-points in the quarter, but that was enough to put them back in front, 27 to 25.
The Tigers led by 4-points with over 3-minutes to play. The Eagles went on a 6-point run to take a 36 to 38 lead with less than a minute to play. Senior Michael Frederick hit two free throws to tie the game at 38 to 38 with about 30-seconds left. The Tigers defense then got a stop and Southern Valley was called for a foul on the rebound. DCS sophomore Nolan Burrell went to the free throw line with 2.8 seconds left. He made both to give DCS a 40 to 38 lead. Southern Valley got the ball to near half court with a chance at a desperation shot to win. The shot wasn’t close, and the Tigers got the win and the 2020 RPAC Tournament title.
The Tigers had two players in double figures with Michael Frederick at 14 points and 11 rebounds and Keegan Krutsinger with 12-points and 9-rebounds. Burrell had 6-points, Corbin Horner 4, Cade Lutz 3, and Quade Myers 1.
DCS Head Coach Kris Freeland said the Paxton game took a lot out of his team the night before and they didn’t have their legs under them in the first half. Freeland said they got some energy back in the third quarter and found a way to win. “I can’t say enough about these kids, coming together and playing hard for each other,” said Coach Freeland.
The Tigers are a confident basketball team heading into the stretch run of their regular season that features some very good basketball teams. They host Southwest on Friday and travel to a good Class C1 Hershey team on Saturday. The Tigers will host Class D1, 1-loss, North Platte St. Pat’s next Tuesday. They are a new team on the Tigers schedule. Their one loss was to Hershey last week in their conference tournament. The boys then have a rematch at Southern Valley and a home game with Medicine Valley to end the regular season the following week.