“I hope they have a feeling that it is unfinished business”, said DCS Head Boys Basketball Coach Kris Freeland about his team heading back to the NSAA Class D1 State Basketball Tournament for the second straight season.
The Tigers punched their ticket to the 2023 State Tournament after defeating Humphrey/Lindsey Holy Family in the Class D1-5 District Championship in Kearney Monday night.
The Tigers won 51 to 36 over the Bulldogs behind a great second half team defensive performance. DCS led by as many as 9-points in the first half, but foul trouble allowed the Bulldogs to get back into the game with a eight point run at the end of the second period. The score at halftime was 23 to 22.
Coach Freeland said he had some doubt going into the second half after the Bulldogs grabbed the momentum before halftime. “I am thinking we are going to come out really slow, but we didn’t,” said Freeland. “ We stayed out of foul trouble in the second half. Oh, man, our defense is amazing.”
Coach Freeland gave credit to his coaching staff, especially Coach Chris Watt on their defensive play. “He preaches it, preaches it, preaches it. We play the percentages and we always have a good scouting report. Everyone of our coaches watched at least two hours of film.” DCS held the Bulldogs to four points in the third quarter.
On offense the Tigers took control by attacking the basket and some great inside passing. Junior post and leading scorer Jackson Kerchal had a huge game inside for the Tigers. But, his biggest shot of the game came from the outside at the end of the third quarter. After a timeout with just over 4-seconds left, Kerchal launched and hit a deep 3-point shot that put them ahead 37 to 26.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family tried to get back into the game in the fourth quarter, but DCS never let them get closer than 9-points.
The Tigers are heading back to the NSAA State Basketball Tournament for the second straight season. They reached the semifinals last season and Coach Freeland says he is thrilled that his players get another chance this year. “It’s just a great feeling,” he said.
Only four players scored for the Tigers against the Bulldogs. Jackson Kerchal finished with 21-points and 12 rebounds. Alex Englot had 14-points to go along with four assists and two steals. Freshman Ethan Latta finished with 10-points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Andrew Englot had 6-points and 10 rebounds. Four of the eight Class D1 District Championship games were played Monday night, the other four took place last night (Tuesday).
Barring any upsets, the Tigers will be the #5 seed and play #4 seed Elm Creek, who also won their game on Monday night. The format for the NSAA State Tournament is much different this year. All the games, except the consolation games, take place at The Bob Deveny Sports Center and the Pinnacle Bank Arena. State Tournament play will start on Wednesday, March 8. The #4 and #5 Class D1 seeds will tip off at 10:45AM at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The official tournament bracket was not available in time for publication in this week’s paper. Watch the Benkelman Post Facebook page and website for updates.