On Thursday, Weeping Water played host to the C1-3 subdistrict final between Ashland-Greenwood and Lincoln Christian.
The game went down to the wire and saw big individual performances from each team, but in the end it was the top-seeded Bluejays of Ashland-Greenwood who emerged victorious, 67-61. With the win, the Bluejays advance to the C1-5 district final at Centennial on Monday against Hastings Adams Central.
Here are five thoughts on the game.
Thursday was my second time watching Ashland-Greenwood this season, and in both games the Bluejays’ freshman guard Cale Jacobsen was the best player on the court.
With his team’s season on the line, Jacobsen put up a career-high 30 points on 8-of-12 from the field (3-of-5 from 3) and 11-of-13 from the free-throw line with six assists and two rebounds. He scored nine in the first quarter, eight in the third and 13 in the fourth to close things out as Lincoln Christian tried to make a comeback.
You know you’re feeling it when you start celebrating a 3 before it goes through the rim, but Jacobsen did so on one of his triples in the second half. He’s as tough a guard as you’ll find regardless of class with his ability to attack the basket and draw contact, and he’s a terrific passer as well.
Jacobsen is one of the best players in the freshman class, and probably one of the best in Class C-1 as well. If you haven’t seen him play, I’d suggest you check him out in the district final.
Caleb Canfield Catches Fire
Ashland-Greenwood held a nine-point lead to start the fourth quarter and it looked like the Bluejays had the game well in hand. Then Christian senior Caleb Canfield caught fire. The sharpshooter hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and scored 15 of his team-high 29 in the fourth.
For the game, Canfield shot 9-of-15 from the field, 5-of-9 from 3 and 6-of-7 from the foul line, leaving it all on the court in his final game as a Crusader. Earlier this season, Canfield surpassed 1,000 career points and he put up a 39-point game against Lincoln Parkview on Jan. 31. Canfield put up 15.9 points per game as a senior and shot 37 percent from 3 on heavy volume.
His career — and those of Christian’s other seniors — came to an end on Thursday, but Canfield certainly went out in a blaze of glory.
This one isn’t easy. These 5 seniors growth on the BBall court was evident but more importantly is the incredible Godly young men they have become. While tonight may have been their last HS BBall game, their impact on our BBall program will be felt for a long time! #thanksseniors pic.twitter.com/AXG4jC1UWB
— LCS Boys Basketball (@LCSBoysBBall) February 22, 2019
Canfield’s late flurry aside, the 3-point line was the difference in the game on Thursday night. Canfield was the only Crusader who connected from the perimeter in the game as everyone else combined to go 0-for-9.
The Bluejays shot 7-of-13 from deep in the second half and 9-of-21 for the game. Ashland-Greenwood lead 30-29 at halftime then shot 5-of-9 from 3 in the third quarter to take control.
Senior forward Nick Shulz finished with 24 points including 5-of-11 from deep. Junior forward Kyle vonRentzell knocked down his only attempt from deep as part of that third-quarter barrage and as mentioned above, Jacobsen shot 3-of-5 including back-to-back 3s in the third quarter that gave Ashland-Greenwood the lead for good.
Lincoln Christian tied Ashland-Greenwood from the free throw line and converted two more buckets inside the arc, but 3 is greater than 2 and a 12-point advantage from the perimeter was enough to get the win.
Next Man Up
Junior forward Justin Bubak, Christian’s leading scorer and the younger brother of one-time Nebraska football commit Jared Bubak, picked up two fouls in the span of about 5 seconds early in the first quarter.
Lincoln Christian coach Gary Nunnally decided to leave Bubak out there and less than 40 seconds later he picked up his third. Bubak and his near-20 points per game spent the rest of the half on the bench.
However, even without their best player on the floor the Crusaders managed to hang around and only trailed by one at halftime thanks in large part to senior forward Creighton Kuszak stepping up. He scored 10 points in the first half, hitting all there of his field goals and all four of his free throws. He finish with 15 points (tying his season-high) on 5-of-7 shooting and 5-of-6 from the line.
In a game where Bubak failed to crack double digits (he finished with seven points) for just the third time all season and first since early December, Lincoln Christian managed to take the Bluejays down to the wire thanks to big games from Canfield and Kuszak.
A Remarkable Turnaround
Two years ago, Ashland-Greenwood went 0-20. Last season, the Bluejays were 3-19. With Friday’s win, Ashland-Greenwood is 18-6 and is one win away from the state tournament. The Bluejays played eight teams that made it to sub-state and went 4-4 against those teams.
Coach Jacob Mohs has led an amazing turnaround, and the boys hard work to get to this point deserves recognition no matter what happens in the district final.
The last time the Bluejays finished above .500 was 2014-15, and that team was led by Cale Jacobsen’s older brother Tyler Craven and his 20.5 points per game. Craven is a senior at Midland and just wrapped up his player career for the Warriors.
The last time Ashland-Greenwood won close to 18 games was way back in 2006-07 when Cale’s father Brad Jacobsen, now the principal of Ashland-Greenwood, was coaching the team. That team made it to state before falling to Chadron in the semifinals, finsihing 17-7.
Can this team do what hasn’t been done at Ashland-Greenwood since 2007? We’ll find out on Monday.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.