Finishing strong among the best in the conference were the Gothenburg and Cozad boys hoops squads while competing in the Southwest Conference (SWC) Tournament this past week.
The Swedes were the runner-up in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. Ainsworth was able to score from the charity stripe down the stretch to net a 63-52 win over Gothenburg.
Exchanging scoring surges in the first quarter, the Bulldogs and Swedes flexed their muscle on the hardwood. Gothenburg was able to cling to an 18-16 lead when the smoke clearing on the opening frame.
Ainsworth was able to turn the tides during the second quarter as they finished with a fury that included a halfcourt shot by Brady Delimont that ‘tickled the twine’ and gave the Dawgs a 33-25 lead over the Swedes.
Making noise that was heard loud and clear, the Gothenburg offense closed the gap on the scoreboard in a big way by outscoring Ainsworth 17-10 during the third quarter to make the score 43-42, with the Dawgs holding on to a one-point edge.
During the final eight minutes, it was the Dawgs that unleashed on the offensive end and extended their lead. In the final moments, Gothenburg’s urgency powered shot attempts weren’t able to keep pace with the charity stripe efforts of Ainsworth, as the Bulldogs scored the 63-52 win over Gothenburg.
Swede superstar Dawson Graham scored a game-high 35 points along with seven rebounds and three steals. Graham’s scoring output flirted with the school record at Gothenburg for points scored in a game.
Ty Clement and Collin Hahn netted eight and six points for the Swedes.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Ainsworth 16 17 10 20 -63
Gothenburg 18 7 17 10 -52
Gothenburg: Dawson Graham 35, Ty Clement 8, Collin Hahn 6, Will Healy 3.
In their medal round contest, the Haymakers were defeated in a defensive showdown with Ogallala, 49-43.
The score remained close throughout the first quarter of play, as the Indians held the lead, 13-10 at the end of the first eight minutes of action.
Cozad was able to find the range and cash in on their scoring opportunities during the second stanza to cut the deficit to just one by outscoring Ogallala, 12-10 heading into the halftime break. At the intermission, the Indians led 23-22 over the Haymakers.
The Haymakers were on a mission defensively during the third quarter. Cozad stepped up big coming out of the break by limiting Ogallala to just three points while rallying to score nine of their own points to earn a five-point lead, 31-26 with just one quarter remaining in regulation.
With their backs against the wall, Ogallala came out swinging for the fences and their efforts paid off to the tune of a 23-12 scoring surge during the final quarter to earn a hard-fought, 49-43 win over the Haymakers.
There were eight different Cozad cagers that reached the scoring column with guard Blaine Emerson leading the charge with nine points and three assists.
The Haymakers Senior duo of Andrew Sayer and Jordan Henry both netted eight points. Sayer ripped down nine rebound as well.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Cozad 10 12 9 12 -43
Ogallala 13 10 3 23 -49
Cozad: Blaine Emerson 9, Andrew Sayer 8, Jordan Henry 8, Klint Gill 5, Toby Salazar 5, Sam Cole 4, Luke Schroeder 2, Hunter Holbein 2.
To reach the championship game, Gothenburg cruised past Ogallala in the semifinal round by the score of 47-32.
The Swedes hit the door running and never looked back in earning an 18-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and then held a 32-16 lead at the intermission.
Gothenburg was able to build their lead to 20-points, 42-22 by the end of the third quarter of play.
Ogallala was able to outscore Gothenburg during the final period of regulation, but it was too little too late, as the Swedes scored a 47-32 victory.
Dawson Graham had a notable game with a game-high 17 points to go along with six steals and three assists.
Ty Clement ruled the roost in the paint with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven blocked shots.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Ogallala 5 11 6 10 -32
Gothenburg 18 14 10 5 -47
Gothenburg: Dawson Graham 17, Ty Clement 15, Collin Hahn 8, Will Healy 6, Riley Ostendorf 1.
In the Haymakers semifinal matchup, they dueled with the hot-shooting Bulldogs of Ainsworth that netted the 80-39 win over Cozad.
The Bulldogs sprinted out of the gates to hold a 25-5 lead at the end of the first quarter that would end up being a 46-17 lead for Ainsworth over Cozad at the halftime break.
The Haymakers were able to find a continuity on the offensive end that flexed the net for 17 points in the third quarter to make the scoreboard shine, 69-35 with just one quarter remaining in regulation.
After all the fireworks on offense during the first three quarters, the scoring simmered during the final eight minutes. Cozad was able to cash in with five points but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Ainsworth lead that stood at 80-39 when the final horn sounded.
Senior Andrew Sayer scored a team-high 10 points for the Red and Black.
Blaine Emerson and Sam Cole contributed greatly from the wing with eight and seven points, respectively.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Cozad 5 12 17 5 -39
Ainsworth 25 21 23 11 -80
Cozad: Andrew Sayer 10, Blaine Emerson 8, Sam Cole 7, Jordan Henry 6, Ian Branham 2, Toby Salazar 2, Jake Williams 2, Hunter Holbein 1, Luke Schroeder 1.