The DCS Tiger boys basketball team is in the Class D1 State Semifinals for the second straight season. They got there after and incredible second half comeback against the Elm Creek Buffaloes in the first round of the NSAA State Tournament played at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln on Wednesday morning.
The Tigers were down 14-points late in the third quarter and behind by 10-points to start the fourth period in the game.
DCS tied the game at 51 with 1:45 to play in regulation and neither team scored again in the fourth quarter. It took two overtimes to decide the outcome. Each team made one free throw in the first overtime. Freshman Ethan Latta gave the Tigers the lead at 57 to 55 with just over a minute left in the second overtime with a great drive to basket to score. On the ensuing possession, DCS forced a turnover and Elm Creek had to foul to stay in the game. Corbin Horner knocked down 1 of 2 free throws. DCS got another defensive stop and Elm Creek had to foul again. Latta would hit a free throw to put DCS ahead by 4 to seal the win. The Tigers finished the game with two more baskets off steals to win 63 to 55.
With their backs against the wall the Tigers responded, finding a way to win. Head Coach Kris Freeland said they told the seniors in a fourth quarter timeout that “this might be your last chance and they responded,” he said. “They played their hearts out and thank God we have a day off. This was a hard fought battle against a very well coached team.”
The Tigers had
two freshman on the court at the end with two seniors having fouled out of the game. It was another great team effort with four players in double figures. The Tigers leading scorer, junior Jackson Kerchal struggled in the first half as Elm Creek double and tripled teamed him on the offensive end every time he got the ball inside. He had a huge second half on both ends of the floor, coming up with several big blocks on defense and finishing with a game hit 18-points for the Tigers. Senior Andrew Englot kept the Tigers in the game the game early with a big first quarter. He finished with 13-points. His twin brother Alex hit big shot after big shot all game for DCS. He played well from the opening tip. Alex had to come out of the game in the third quarter after injuring a knee, but came back in the fourth quarter. He fouled out before the end of regulation with 15-points. Freshman Ethan Latta didn’t play like a freshman. He finished with 10-points. Senior Corbin Horner had just 3-points, but played great defense and finished with 6 assists. Freshman Lane Bybee and junior Derek Noffsinger gave DCS some great minutes off the bench, especially late in the game and in overtime with Alex and Corbin having fouled out.
“They were big,” said Coach Freeland on the two freshman and Noffsinger. “What an exciting game. I was kind of worried when Corbin fouled out thinking that we can’t survive another overtime without Horner.”
The Tiger coaching staff also deserve credit for making numerous in game adjustments that didn’t show up in game statistics.
DCS plays North Platte St. Pat’s in the Class D1 Semifinals on Friday morning. The game will take place the Devaney Sports Center with tip off set for 8am (MT).