The top two teams in Class C-1 squared off on Tuesday night as No. 1 Wahoo traveled to No. 2 Ashland-Greenwood on the final day before the holiday moratorium. The Warriors built a double-digit lead early, but the Bluejays dominated the rest of the way to earn a 65-43 win.
Here are five thoughts on the game as the 5-0 Bluejays handed the 4-1 Warriors their first loss.
If you didn’t arrive before the end of the JV game on Tuesday night, pickings were slim for seats. The student sections were full and engaged and it made for a great atmosphere.
Best student section ever!💙 pic.twitter.com/PiFa9eZEzT
— AG Booster Club (@AgBooster) December 22, 2021
Nebraska basketball freshman Bryce McGowens made the trip from Lincoln to watch the game and had to sit up on the stage behind the baseline because there wasn’t much room in the bleachers. Volleyball freshman Whitney Lauenstein was also there.
Match-ups like that one on Tuesday are what high school sports are all about. We’re obviously still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and large crowds still carry a certain level of risk, but this is what we missed out on last year as schools had to limit attendance.
Welcome Back, Mr. Jacobsen
Cale Jacobsen has been one of the better players in the state since he stepped on the floor as a freshman for Ashland-Greenwood. Unfortunately, he saw his junior season ended about this time last year because of a torn ACL, which was a big loss not only for the Bluejays and for Jacobsen himself, but for high school hoops as a whole. He’s a terrific, well-rounded player who is a lot of fun to watch.
Tuesday was the first time I got to see him play since the summer before his sophomore year. He’s still working off some of the rust, just a year removed from surgery, but even so he was still clearly the best player on the court and impacted the game in so many ways.
Jacobsen finished with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-16 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. He also took on the defensive assignment of guarding Wahoo star sophomore Marcus Glock, the son of former Husker Jason Glock, and held him to a season-low four points on 2-of-9 shooting and four turnovers.
The highlight of the first half was Jacobsen picking a ball-handlers pocket and taking it the other way for a slam.
Q2: Wahoo 25, Ashland-Greenwood 20.
— Luke Mullin (@lmullin7) December 22, 2021
The 3-pointer wasn’t falling for Jacobsen on Tuesday, but he’s as complete a guard as you’ll find in the 2022 class. After a couple of buckets at the rim early for him, Wahoo did a good job of plugging up driving lanes. So Coach Jacob Mohs made an adjustment and started putting the physical 6-foot-4 guard in the post, and he started doing damage that way. Then in the fourth, he looked to set up up his teammates with three of his five assists, all for 3-pointers.
“Definitely there’s some rust, and there’s been some rust defensively and offensively for him because it was such a long time off of competitive basketball,” Mohs said. “But he’s slowly getting back in rhythm. He’s strong enough, he’s quick enough, he’s skilled enough, as you can see. He’ll be in full swing and he’ll be better than he then he was previously. He creates so much for us. He’s out there playing chess and a lot of kids are playing checkers. He sees things, he knows what’s going on, he gets others involved, he makes good decisions. So as he goes throughout the year, I think you’re going to see him get better and better.”
For my money, Jacobsen was the best guard in his class before he went down with the injury. I’m glad to see him back on the court and hope he’ll still have a chance to play at the Division I level.
With Glock struggling to score, Wahoo needed someone to step up offensively, and junior Benji Nelson did that on Tuesday. The 6-foot-6 wing scored a career-high 11 points off the bench, shooting 4-of-6 from the field including 3-of-4 from deep.
Nelson is an intriguing player with his combination of length, athleticism and shooting potential. He threw down a poster-dunk against Nebraska City last week, and although he got off to a slow start from the perimeter this season he found the range against the Bluejays.
If Nelson can continue to progress as a player and find more consistency, he can be a big weapon for the Warriors down the line.
Max Parker is a 6-foot-6 senior start for Ashland-Greenwood. When he was 12, a fireworks accident cost him most of his left hand and endangered his life.
On Tuesday night, Parker went 4-for-4 from deep in the fourth quarter — hitting two shots apiece from each corner — and didn’t even touch the rim as the Bluejays blew the game wide open. Ashland-Greenwood led by seven early in the fourth quarter when Brooks Kissinger scored a layup then Parker hit his first three, sparking a 22-7 finish to the game.
Parker hadn’t scored before the fourth but finished with 12. He also tied Jacobsen for the game-high with eight rebounds and blocked a shot. With each 3 he hit, the crowd got louder and louder.
“Max is a great shooter,” Mohs said. “He’s had an outstanding year for us this year, and he’s been filling it up from the outside. He does such a great, great job for us on defense. He’s having a heck of a year. I was glad that he made those shots at the end.”
Wahoo ended the first quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 12-4 lead, and the Warriors stretched the lead to 12 a couple of times midway through the second quarter. Then the game swung dramatically.
The Bluejays chipped away at the deficit the rest of the half, pulling within three at the break, then Ashland-Greenwood dominated the second half, outscoring the Warriors 40-15.
Wahoo shot 1-of-15 from the field in the third quarter including 0-of-10 inside the arc. They shot 3-of-11 in the fourth. Overall, Wahoo finished at 30% from the field for the game (20% from 3) and missed half of its 20 free-throw attempts.
The 3-point shooting is going to come and go at times, but the Warriors had a lot of opportunities around the basket yet shot just 12-of-35 from 2-point range. Wahoo has legitimate state title aspirations, but to make that happen the Warriors can’t afford to leave so many points on the board at the rim and from the free-throw line.
It’s certainly getter to have this kind of a game before Christmas. It will be interesting to see what the Warriors learn from this set-back and how they move forward.
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.