the north face backpack Islanders use depth to down Columbus
Depth, the long ball and defense were a hat trick that worked to perfection for Grand Island Senior High on Thursday night.
The Islander boys basketball team won for the third time in as many games as they defeated Columbus 67 44 to advance to 10 6 on the season. In doing so, GISH outscored the Discoverers 24 4 in bench points, went 12 for 23 from the 3 point line and held Columbus to just six points combined in the second and fourth quarters.
“We tried to pressure them a little bit early, and to their credit they handled it pretty well,” Islander coach Jeremiah Slough said. “But, in the second quarter, we just got down in a stance and played disciplined defense. I thought we did a really good job there.”
It allowed GISH to blow the game open.
Leading 16 15 after the first eight minutes, the Islanders outscored Columbus 19 2 in the second frame behind five 3 point baskets three from Will Nordhues as they took control of the game 35 17 at the half.
Nordhues ended the half with an exclamation point as he stole the ball with four seconds left and hit a 25 footer off the glass for the halftime advantage.
The Islanders also forced Columbus into 1 for 8 shooting and six turnovers, before the Discoverers turned turned things around after the break.
Andy Pike hit three 3 point baskets and the Discoverers made their first seven shots from the field in the third quarter, but only got within 10 points twice; at 38 29 and later at 41 32 when Pike and Rashawn Smith traded threes.
Then, GISH answered with an 8 0 run that was fueled by an Andrew Bardales bucket, a three from LeBeck Warren, who later had a thunderous dunk that gave the Islanders a 47 32 lead.
“The third quarter might have been the worst quarter we have played all season,” Slough said. “We didn’t take care of the basketball, we didn’t guard anything and there was no attention to detail.”
Leading 53 40, however, the Islanders iced it with defense. They held Columbus scoreless for the first 5:04 of the fourth period and iced the game with eight free throws down the stretch.
“Fortunately, two quarters was good enough tonight,” Slough said, ‘but it won’t be good enough down the road.”
As the Islanders began a stretch of six games in nine days with five at home Slough hopes to lean on his depth to stay fresh and wear opponents down. GISH played 11 players in the first half on Thursday night with the bench combining for 24 points on 6 of 14 shooting from the floor. Smith had 11 points.
Warren was as efficient as the Islander offense in scoring 23 points to lead all scorers. He was 7 for 11 from the field, 5 for 7 from beyond the arc and 4 of 6 from the line. As a team GISH was 21 for 41 from the field and 12 for 23 from the 3 point line against a mostly zone defense from Columbus.
GISH will play two more at home this weekend, Friday against Lincoln Northeast and on Saturday afternoon against Omaha Northwest before a trip to Hastings on Tuesday.
“They are not a driving team and we knew that,” GISH coach Alex Michel said. “They drive to get an open three, but they are all shooters. They live on the outside, they don’t shoot very many free throws.”
GISH trailed 18 13 at the break, but held the Discoverers to just 1 for 11 shooting in the third period and were down just one heading to the final frame.
But Columbus countered with threes from Lexi Kucera and Bailey Keller in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter for a 27 20 lead and the Islander played catch up the rest of the way.
“We are just having trouble scoring points,” Michel said, after his team is now playing without both starting guards, Rya Chavez and Lauren Eihusen who are out with injuries. “We need to figure out a way to get to 40 points every game and if we can, we’ll have a chance to win some.”
Nyaylen Rial came off the bench to score eight points and lead the GISH attack, while Lauren Hauser had seven points and Alexa Blase had six points and 10 rebounds. Keller led Columbus with nine points as no player from either team reached double figures.