Mitchell 77 Cobblers 62
Friday, Central Boys Varsity Basketball took on Mitchell, kicking off their home opening weekend at the Naasz.
Senior Justin Kramer finished with 17 points and 4 assists, shooting a nice 55% from the field. Senior Connor McCormick ended with 12 points and 7 rebounds, also hitting 4/4 free throws. Sophomore Kailleb Walton-Blanden scored 10 points, with 5 assists, and 4 steals.
Justin Kraemer offered a hot hand for the Cobblers during the first half, racking up 14 points. Twelve of these were from the three-point line, including a buzzer beater to put the Cobblers up by three at halftime. Kailleb Walton-Blanden and Connor McCormick’s quick hands collected a combined six steals, accounting for a quarter of Mitchell’s turnovers. Central also had an advantage from the free-throw line in the first half, hitting 9/12, while Mitchell was only 2/2. Central headed to the locker room leading 35-32.
However, tides changed in the second half. With help from forward Wyatt Smith and guard Gray Determan, Mitchell shot nearly 50% from the field and outscored Central by eight points in both the third and fourth quarters. The Cobblers’ foul trouble didn’t help the deficit, as Mitchell went 14/19 from the free-throw line through the second half. Kraemer and sophomore Dylan Hay fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and the Cobblers weren’t able to come back, dropping the game 77-62.
Huron 71 Cobblers 65
Saturday, Central looked to redeem themselves in a day game against Huron.
Justin Kraemer once again was effective from the field, going 5/11 and scoring 14, 12 of them from beyond the arc. Connor McCormick and Kailleb Walton-Blanden both had strong outings, McCormick scoring 14 and Walton-Blanden 15. McCormick went 5/5 from the free-throw line. He didn’t miss a free throw the entire weekend.
The men down low, seniors Derric Tiller and Tanner Aberle compiled solid offensive games. Tiller, though seeing limited playing time in the second and third quarters due to foul trouble, scored 10 points and did it by drawing fouls, going 8/12 on free throws. Aberle did more of the same, scoring 8 and shooting 6/8 from the line. Aberle also grabbed 4 assists.
Tye Evers, a forward for Huron, couldn’t be stopped, earning a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
After leading 30-28 at halftime, and delivering a stalemate in the third quarter, the last quarter went down to the wire. After a missed shot from the Cobbler side in the last minute, Huron had 17 seconds left to go ahead. They responded with another missed shot, and a transition layup from Aberle on a pass from Kraemer fell through the net a second too late. Central and Huron headed into overtime tied at 56, but the Cobblers couldn’t finish out, losing a narrow 71-65.
Things to Take Away:
Rebounding was a major problem for the Cobblers. Throughout the weekend, Central was out-rebounded 58-99. Central not only failed to collect the offensive rebounds they needed (15), but they allowed almost double to Huron and Mitchell (28), leading to many put-back points and moments where opportunities to get ahead dissolved.
Justin Kraemer’s Hot Hand
Here are a few numbers from Kraemer’s weekend:
- 31 points
- 11/22 FG (50%)
- 5 assists
- 9/19 3-PT (47%)
“I had a pretty good weekend shooting the ball,” Kraemer said. “I’m gaining confidence as we continue into the season.”
Numbers can only say so much, but Justin is starting to look like a dangerous offensive weapon from the range.
Shooting and Shooting Defense
Just like many of their shots, field goal percentages have not fallen in Central’s favor. Central only made 32% of their shots on Friday and Saturday combined. On Friday, Mitchell and Central both took 63 shots apiece. Nine more fell in for Mitchell. Saturday, Huron had 1 less shot (51) than the Cobblers but managed to make 8 more. Central did win the three-point battle both days, but only averaged 29% from the arc, compared to 32% from Mitchell and Huron. Kraemer is clearly a solid shooter, but better shot selection and maybe a little luck in the post could help the Cobblers out of the slump.
Post-men Delivering at the Charity Stripe
Derric Tiller has been excellent at drawing shooting fouls below the basket. In total, Tiller went 14/20 at the line this weekend, leading his team in both FT points and attempts. Tanner Aberle also went 6/8 from the line on Saturday.
Closing Out Games
Central’s better half has not been the second one. After leading at halftime in both games, the Cobblers have been outscored 75-51 on the final stretch of the game. It shows that finding ways to win isn’t easy.
“Our biggest thing is conditioning,” Connor McCormick explained. “We are a very inexperienced team at the varsity level compared to other teams that go all out.”
“We’re just going through growing pains and have a steep learning curve,” McCormick said. “Each game will get better. We, and everyone else, just need to relax.”
“We can only go up from here and I have no doubt in my mind that we will,” Kraemer added.
Next up: Douglas @ Central, 12/22 1:30 p.m., Naasz Gymnasium