Fierce rivals Howells-Dodge and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family saw their meeting this season delayed by a snow storm, but it proved to be worth the wait as the battle between the boys teams went down to the final possession.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family went to Howells-Dodge on Tuesday and swept the varsity double-header, 47-45 on the boys side and 61-35 on the girls.
Here are five thoughts.
Down to the Wire
The boys game featured numerous ties and lead changes as neither side led by more than two possessions at any point. The Bulldogs looked like they were poised to take control in the third quarter, pulling ahead by five, but the Bulldogs turned the tables with a 9-0 run (two 3s and a three-point play). Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family scored last to make it to a two-point game heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter featured three ties and five lead changes as the teams went back and forth throughout, bucket for bucket and stop for stop. The final lead change came on a three-point play from Jacob Sjuts with 1:27 to play that fouled out a Howells-Dodge starter, Lance Brester.
Howells-Dodge worked the ball around until Aandy Dominguez found Colton Klosen, who had replaced Brester, at the rim for a layup to tie it up at 45-all with 55 seconds to go.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family burned some clock until Ethan Keller slipped behind the defense and Cooper Beller found hims under the basket. The Jaguars recovered in time to challenge the shot and R.J. Bayer blocked it, but Keller got it back and went right back up for the go-ahead bucket with 20 seconds left.
Howells-Dodge put the ball in the hands of its best player, Blake Sindelar, but the Bulldogs dug down on defense and forced a miss at the buzzer to seal the victory.
The star of the game was Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family Jacob Sjuts who finished with 20 points on 6-of-12 from the field (1-of-2 from the line) and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, 12 rebounds and three steals.
Sjuts was the one who scored at the end of the third to halt Howells-Dodge’s 9-0 run, and he also scored his team’s first eight points in the fourth quarter before later converting the go-ahead three-point play to give him 11 in the period. At 6-foot-5, Sjuts has a versatile skill stand went to work in both the low-post and high-post as well as the 3-point line. Two of his three steals came in the fourth quarter as well.
Sjuts, a Des Moines Area Community College baseball commit, is having a terrific season on the hardwood, leading the team in points, rebounds, assists and blocks while recently surpassing 1,000 career points.
Jacob’s twin brother, Jason, led the Bulldogs in scoring in each of the previous three seasons. He didn’t have a great offensive day on Tuesday, finishing with five points, but he made the biggest defensive play of the day as he was the one on the ball on the final possession. Jason knocked the ball free when Sindelar initially tried to attack, then he got a fan up when Sindelar got the ball back and forced a missed 3 at the buzzer.
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family sat in a shifting 3-2 zone all game, and there weren’t many openings with the length the Bulldogs can throw out there with the Sjuts twins, Keller, Beller and Sage Frauendorfer, all of whom are 6-foot-1 or taller.
I’ve seen Blake Sindelar drop 30-plus points at least three or four times over the last few years. He’s a nearly unstoppable force in transition and can get to the basket as well as anyone in his class. However, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family’s zone did a great job of controlling the pace and limiting Sindelar’s opportunities at the rim. He didn’t get anything easy.
Even so, he found a way to make a big impact and give the Jaguars a chance. The 6-foot-3 guard scored a team-high 16 points including 4-of-9 from deep. He also did a great job of picking apart the zone with his passes, even if he didn’t rack up a ton of assists. Sindelar has terrific vision an the athleticism to leave his feet to set up passing angles without turning the ball over.
Tuesday wasn’t a great game for Sindelar, but the Jaguars will have a chance every time they take the court with him in the lineup.
Kings of Class C2
Tuesday’s game featured the No. 1 team in Class C2 against the No. 3 team, according to the latest NebPreps.com coaches poll. It was also a rematch of last year’s Class D1 state championship game, a 52-47 win for the Bulldogs. Both teams made a step up in conference but haven’t missed a beat.
Tuesday was the second loss of the season for the Jaguars, who are now 12-2. They’re first loss was to Clarkson/Leigh, a good C1 team.
As for the Bulldogs, they improved to 13-0 and are one of just two teams statewide yet to take a loss this season (Omaha Skutt is the other). Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family has won the last three D1 titles, and its well on its way to adding a C2 championship to the list.
… And Queens as Well
The Bulldog girls are having a terrific season as well, which continued with a dominant win over the Jaguars that improved them to 12-2. In a battle of zones, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family’s 1-3-1 proved more effective than Howells-Dodge’s 2-3.
Both teams got off to a slow starts it took more than two-and-a-half minutes to score a point, but the Bulldogs used an 11-0 run to surge had and never looked back, doubling up the Jaguars at halftime, 26-13, then doubling them up again with a 20-10 third quarter.
Halle Beller led everyone with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-of-5 from 3) and four boards. Paige Beller added 10 points, four rebounds and four steals while freshman Claire Korth chipped in 20 points and three steals off the bench. Addison Schneider, a 6-foot-1 post, just missed a double-double with nine points and 14 rebounds (six offensive).
Senior Abbey Pieper led the Jaguars with 10 points and three assists.
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.