Sept 19th VB Results

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Sidney 25 25 25

East MIlls 15 13 23

At the Start of the night Sidney and East Mills were two of three Corner teams with unblemished records in the Conference standings.  At the end of the night East Mills had dropped from those ranks.

Kelsey Hobbie and Camryn McClintock combined for 27 kills.  Jaden Daffer pulled up 8 digs and dropped in 5 aces.  Olivia Larsen added another 36 assists to her already staggering total for the season as the Cowgirls rolled to a win in straight sets.

Sidney and East Mills finished 1-2 last season in the Corner Conference standings.

 

Stanton 3

Fremont-MIlls 2

One night after dropping a grueling five set match to Southwest Valley, Stanton survived another five set thriller with Fremont-Mills to improve to 3-0 in the Corner Conference standings, leaving them in a first place tie with Sidney for the lead.

Essex252525

South Page61312

20 kills for Daiton Martin in an easy three set win for Essex.  Bailey Drennen led the Rebels with five kills   Essex sets in a second place tie with East Mills with one loss each.

Standings

Sidney 3-0

Stanton 3-0

East Mills 3-1

Fremont-Mills 2-3

Heartland 1-3

South Page 0-4

Academy 0-3

 

 

Sept 22 Football Schedules

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Fremont Mills (2-2) vs. Essex (0-5)

F-M is going to improve every week for the rest of the season.  Jaeger Powers and Blake Hurley are back in the lineup.  The Knights will have some critical matchups ahead that could go either way, but this Friday doesn't appear to be one of them.

Essex is still searching for its first win and the road simply isn't going to get any easier.  The Knights are quite possibly the most dangerous 2-2 team you can face right now. 

Stanton (4-1) vs. Murray (0-5)

This isn't your older brothers Murray that was relevant on a regional basis.  This is 0-5 Murray that has only scored three times this season. 

Stanton is a top 20 team in the state.  They will be favored every game from here on out the rest of the season.  This one will be ugly.

Cam vs. Sidney

This one had the potential to be every bit as good as the 2012 clash between these same two teams in week nine of that season.  That was before CAM suffered at least three injuries to key players, including both linebackers and it's best receiver.

It's still an offense piloted by Thomas Hensley so chances are the Cougars will score, but its unlikely that the defense will keep Sidney's diverse, multi faceted offense from posting a big number.  The Cowboys are a LOT faster than East Mills who scored 57 last Friday night against CAM in Anita.

Unbeaten SIdney will be a substantial favorite, but do not sleep on a program like CAM, regardless of injures.  Pride and persistence + Thomas Hensley + fireworks.

East Mills (1-3) vs. Woodbine (2-2)

Well, East Mills scored 57 last week and Woodbine gave up 70+ to Academy.  East Mills surrendered 56 to CAM and Woodbine racked up 96 (!!!!) on the Eagles.

Expect a big total in this one.  BCMoore like the Wolverines by 9 in this one at Woodbine,  In terms of competitiveness this is the game of the week in the district.

Clarinda Academy (2-2) vs Elk Horn-Kimballton (2-2)

It's still Elk Horn.  2-2 or not.  When you go north of I 80 and they CAN hang a large number on you, they WILL hang a large number on you.  If you complain, their refs will throw a lot of flags at you.

Academy has played well so far this season, but this is a tough trip.

September 8th Football Scores/Recaps

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Clarinda Academy 52 Essex 22

Academy roared to a 34-6 lead early in the second half before taking its foot off the gas pedal and cruising to a 52-22 win over Essex,. It's the second straight win for the Eagles who improve to 2-1 on the season and the second consecutive win over Essex since dropping back down to 8-man football.

Essex drops to 0-4.

Fremont-Mills 46 East Mills 6

Seth Malcom rushed for 194 yards on 23 carries for Fremont-Mills in a 46-6 win over East Mills on Homecoming night in Malvern.  Malcom scored five times and Mason Vanatta added two rushing touchdowns of his own for the Knights who improve to 2-1 on the season.

Its the third straight loss to open the season for the Wolverines who have played a very tough schedule to this point. 

Sidney 61 Elk Horn-Kimballton 25

Bryson Duncan and Cody Dupree scored three touchdowns each and Cameron Whitehead had three touchdown passes for Sidney.

CAM 62 Woodbine 28

Thomas Hensley racked up over 300 yards of offense and six touchdowns for CAM.  Preston Murphy caught seven passes for 140 yards and two scores.  Joey Wolf rushed for 114 yards on 12 carries for Woodbine.

Stanton 60Lamoni 12

Keegan Day threw for 296 yards and six touchdowns to lead Stanton to its third win of the season.  Drake Johnson and Dillion Rocha each had over 100 yards receiving and combined for five scores.  Reece Anderson added the sixth receiving score.

Johnson added two rushing scores to up his total to six for the night.  He leads the area in scoring with 98 points this season.  Stanton improves to 3-1 and appear to be the team to beat this season in district six.

Second Half Surge Sparks Sidney

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Had you only watched the first quarter of Sidney's Friday night tilt against Elk Horn-Kimballton, the final score might look like it must be a typo.

Held scoreless for nearly 18 minutes, the Cowboys rose up to score six times in their next seven possessions to run away with a 61-25 victory in the district opener.  The win, coupled with Fremont-Mills playoff win last year gives Corner teams two consecutive wins over over Elk Horn, a team that has traditionally given area schools nightmares.

After a scoreless first quarter, the two teams traded touchdowns throughout the second frame with Elk Horn scoring first and the Cowboys responding.  Cameron Whitehead hit Sergio Rodriguez for the first score and Bryson Duncan rumbled for the second.  Elk Horn stunned the Cowboys with a flea flicker just before half and appeared to be all set to take a 19-13 lead into the break, but a quick Sidney drive capped by Whiteheads second touchdown pass gave Sidney the momentum heading into break.

Cody Dupre angled to the center of the field and was wrapped up at the one before struggling to thrust the ball across the goal line for the tying score.  The fast pace favored the deeper Cowboys as the visiting defenders were visibly struggling to catch their breath as the half drew to a close.  The second half only brought more struggles for the Elk horn defense.

Dupre caught a 45 yard pass for a score early in the third quarter after the Elk Horn defense bit on a play fake.  He was two yard beyond the nearest defender when Whiteheads pass hit him in stride.  Brock Shirley intercepted a pass shortly after that to give the Cowboys a short field.  Whitehead took the honors himself, bowling over the goal line from 10 yards out to make the score 32-19.

The floodgates opened.  it was all on the ground after that.  Whitehead scored again.  Duncan rushed for two more scores and Dupre scampered around end for his third score of the game for the final Sidney touchdown.

The Cowboys pick up their third win of the season and their eighth straight win stretching back to last season when they lost back to back games against Fremont-Mills and the aforementioned Elk Horn-Kimballton. 

Elk Horn drops to 1-2 on the season, but its only fair to mention the two losses are to Sidney, and Audubon who are two of the strongest teams in the area.  Also among the strongest teams in the area is Fremont-Mills who punished East Mills Friday night to improve to 2-1 on the season.

F-M will play host to Sidney Friday night.  The Knights haven't lost a district game to a Corner Conference opponent since late September back in 2012 when the very same Sidney Cowboys preserved a 31-30 win with a goal line stand on the last play of the game in what is arguably the most exciting game of the Corner Conference 8-man era.

 

 

Sept 7th VB Scores

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13 kills for Camryn McClintock and another 12 for Kelie Hobbie in Sidney's sweep of two Nebraska teams.  Olivia Larson had 39 assists and three aces.  The Cowgirls improve to 10-2

Sidney 25 25

Weeping Water 13 14

Sidney 25 25

Wymore Southern 11 14

 

F-M improves to 3-2 on the season and 1-2 in Corner Conference play with the sweep of Clarinda Academy

Fremont-MIlls 25 25 25

Academy 1 3 3

 

 

 

 

Sidney/Elk Horn Football Preview

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In 2016 when Sidney met Elk Horn-Kimballton in the third week of the season, it appeared that the Cowboys had a decent shot of winning that game.  That game went horribly wrong for Sidney and the rematch is Friday night in Cowboy country.  It again appears that Sidney has a decent shot of winning.

What's different than last year?

"I'm not sure it looks that much different," said Sidney head coach Donnie Sears.  "They look awful big and awful talented.  If I see one area where we might have an advantage, it's in terms of playing time and experience for our starters"

Elk Horn was hit hard by graduation, losing six starters on both sides of the ball.  That includes nine of the 13 players who made a tackle in last years game as well as everyone who caught or threw a pass in last year's game.  Elk Horn's two top rushers are gone as well.  The Danes return a grand total of 31 yards of offense from the team that blasted Sidney 53-18 in 2016.

"They are always deep and from what I've seen on film they have filled in the holes nicely," said Sears. "They use a ton of formations, three different players taking snaps and a lot of deception.  Figuring out who they line up where and where the ball is going makes you feel like its an easter egg hunt every time they snap the ball."

The Cowboys on the other hand return a mostly intact roster, only losing a couple players on either side of the ball.  Quarter back Cameron Whitehead returns, as primary running back Bryson Duncan.

Sergio Rodriguez is one of the best kickers in the area regardless of school size and a solid 190 pound wide receiver to boot.  Cody Dupre is a speed merchant and a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball and excels on defense as well on the live of all places.

"Dupre is fast enough to beat the slower offenseifve lineman and mean and aggressive enough tobattle past a lot of the smaller one," said Sears of his undersized defensive lineman.  "He really causeds provblem for the offense and when they adjust to deal with him (Brady) Lorimor and (Thomas) Wilson are free.

Wilson and Lorimor are both well over 250 pounds.  Whitehead is a 210 pound quarterback.  The Cowboys aren't small this season.

"We really do have some size and we will need it Friday to match up with Elk Horn," said Sears.  "I think it will be a close game and in these types of games its great to have a kicker like Rodriguez."

Rodriguez had put every kickoff this season but one in the end zone and made nearly all of his extra points.

"Taking away opposing teams run backs and a nearly automatic seven on touchdowns if you need it is huge," said Sears. "We have a tough stretch of games ahead of us."


The Cowboys play Elk Horn, Fremont-Mills and CAM in consecutive weeks.

"I think this could be a season where the district champ has a loss," said Sears.  "I Wouldn't count out Woodbine either and people have to remember F-M was without Jaeger Powers and Blake Hurley so far this season.  Hurley is one of the best lineman around and Powers is a playmaker.  Their first two games look a lot different with those guys in the lineup."

Kickoff is 7:00 Friday night in SIdney.

Sept 1 Football Recaps and Thoughts

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Sidney 63, West Harrison 14

No contest in Sidney.  The Cowboys did what they wanted, when they wanted to do it.  Cameron Whitehead passed three times for three completions and two scores.  Bryson Duncan rushed 12 times for 172 yards and Cody Dupre carried twice for 70 yards.

West Harrison drops to 0-2 on the season.

Sidney improves to 2-0 on the season heading into the district opener against Elk Horn-Kimballton, who will surely test the Cowboys.  Elk Horn knocked off the Cowboys in Sidney in the first round of the playoffs 54-20 back in 2014.

Elk Horn smashed Bedford Friday night 57-14.  Sidney opened the season with a 53-22 win over the Bulldogs.

Stanton 42, Fremont-Mills 35

Only the second loss this decade for Fremont-Mills to a Corner Conference opponent and the first win for Stanton over the Knights since 2007.  That's the year the Vikings won the state title.

Drake Johnson rushed 20 times for 187 yards and three scores.  Dillion Rocha pulled down five passes for 108 yards and two scores.  Reece Anderson led the defense with 12 tackles to go with his two pass receptions on offense.
 

The Vikings forced six turnovers.  Johnson had four interceptions, Rocha added another and Cameron Walter recovered a fumble.

Mason Vanatta passed for 198 yards and rushed for 86 more before leaving the game late due to injuries and cramping.  Seth Malcom rushed for two scores as well for F-M who is still without the services of Blake Hurley (suspension) and Jaeger Powers (injury).

F-M heads to Malvern to take on winless East Mills Friday night.  Stanton will travel east to take on Lamoni.

East Union 38, East Mills 26

Michael Schafer passed for 113 yards and Trevor Glockel scored three touchdowns for East Mills who made this a much more competitive game than was initially anticipated. 

Nate Richardson and Chris Darnold combined for 21 tackles to lead the defense. Riley Story caught five passes.  The loss drops East Mills to 0-2 on the season but East Union remains unbeaten  

This sets up the Wolverines with a showdown with F-M on Friday.  Both teams are coming off a loss.  East Mills hasn't won against the Knights since 2007.

Lenox 52, Essex 14

First win of the season for Lenox who is giving up an uncharacteristically high 42 points per game this season.  The schedule makers did Essex no favors this season, handing the Trojans non district games against two teams who qualified for state last season and another ag ainst a team who narrowly missed the playoffs.

The good news for the Trojans is Friday night will bring a visit from Clarinda Academy who rallied late to beat Essex last season.  The Trojans have to be looking at this as a winnable game and will certainly want revenge for last seasons loss to the Eagles.

Clarinda Academy 58, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter 0

The last two seasons have been kind to the Eagles who spent most of the decade mired in 11 man football where wins were rare.

CMB was no match for the Eagles who romped to an easy shutout victory.

The Eagles put together a three win season last year with victories over Woodbine, Essex, and Mormon Trail.  Friday night will bring a showdown with Essex.

 

 

 

Thursday August 31 VB Scores

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Sidney252525

Fremont-Mills91815

Camryn McClintock put down 13 kills on 33 swings for Sidney in an efficient 3-0 win over Fremont-Mills Tuesday night.

Cassidy Hobbie added seven kills for Sidney who improves to 3-0 on the season with the win.  The Cowgirls will travel to Clarinda for tournament play on Saturday.

F-M drops to 2-1 on the season after opening the fall after defeating Boyer Valley and Griswold in best of three matches Tuesday in Tabor.

East Mills 3

Southwest Valley 1

East Mills made if five straight wins over Southwest Valley with a 3-1 victory of the Timberwolves Thursday night.

It's the first win of the season for EM who dropped best of three matches to Griswold and Essex in Tabor on Tuesday.

 

Essex Knocks Off Mt Ayr in Five

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Essex went on the road Monday night and opened the season with a five set win over Mount Ayr.

Daiton Martin racked up 26 kills and 24 dig for Essex who survived 25-22, 24-26, 25-17, 19-25, 15-12 to defeat the Raiders who entered the night 2-0 on the season.

Kelsi Leininger added another 25 kills for Essex who was playing in its first game of the season. 

"All the girls played really scrappy tonight. Kelsi and Daiton really showed their leadership tonight by stepping in and taking balls all over the court," said Essex head coach Bailey Hunt.  "Elise Dailey stepped up as a freshman and played tough. I'm really proud of how hard she has been working and her hard work shows on the court"

Elise Dailey and Blu Ossian combined for another 17 kills.  Abby Lindburg and Lexi Burnison accounted for 32 assists.

 

 

August 25 Football Game Recaps/Thoughts

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Fremont-Mills 47 Lenox 34 Final

Mason Vanatta was involved in seven touchdowns for Fremont-Mills who held off a furious fourth quarter effort from a plucky Lenox team.  Even if it's not a district game it's a huge win for a team without two of it most important players while at the same time putting a lot of players on the field in a starting role for the first time.

The knights did the damage through the air, racking up 250 yards and four scores via the pass.  Connor Alley, Seth Malcom and Austin Gartner all caught TD passes.  Alley was three for three kicking extra points and he put six of eight kickoffs into the end zone.

It's difficult to assess the game in terms of relative strength, I don't know as much about Lenox as I do Corner teams but they have given up nearly 60 points per game two games into this season.  It is fair to say they aren't going to be as strong as they were last year.  Lenox lost in week zero to CAM, no shame in that though.  The Tigers drop to 0-2 and will be favored next week when they play essex.

The Knights are 1-0 with a huge trip next week scheduled to Stanton.

Stanton 36 East Mills 0 Final

The Vikings were just too fast for East Mills.  The Wolverines just didn't have anyone who could run down Drake Johnson and Keegan Day when they got into the open field.  On the flip side, the two or three big plays for East Mills resulted in 20 or 30 yard gains rather than touchdowns.

Day raced for a 56 yard score.  Johnson caught three passes, scoring twice, including a 70 yarder.  Reece Anderson and Dillion Rocha also caught touchdown passes for Stanton.  Rocha racked up three sacks and went over over 30 total tackles on the season after just two games.

There were no prolonged drives for the Vikings.  Short passes with running after the catch worked well for Stanton all night.  The Vikings improve to 1-1 after week zeros heartbreaking loss to ArWeVa.  East Mills drops to 0-1 with a trip to Afton East Union scheduled next week.

Audubon 55 Elk Horn 14 Final

No real details to speak of here, but its relevant because Elk Horn is in district seven.  It's the second year in a row that the Wheelers have beaten the Danes, but last year's game was 38-32.  Elk Horn went on to grab the second place spot in district sevan and advance to the round of eight at state, eventually losing to Fremont-Mills.

Cumberland-Anita-Massena 70 Murray 8 Final

Two games, 140 combined points for the CAM Cougars.  After dusting Lenox in week zero, CAM laid the wood to Murray 70-8.  Go ahead and circle the CAM game on your favorite teams schedule now. 

CAM QB Thomas "The Tank Engine" Hensley is arguably the best all around player in the district.  He rushed five times, four of those going for touchdowns.  He passed once.  That two went for a score.

Mitchell Williamson is likely the best player in the district you haven't heard of before.  Issac Bower led the Cougars in tackles.  He played last season for Red Oak.  CAM well host Audubon next week with a chance to avenge last seasons running clock loss to the Wheelers.

East Union 46 Essex 0 Final

The Eagles didn't do anything tricky.  They handed the ball off.  A lot.  49 times.  When they passed it didn't go as well.  Only two completions in nine attempts. 

East Union is just far too deep and talented for Essex who managed 24 points against Bedford in week zero. 

Sidney 53 Bedford 22 Final

Cameron Whitehead passed for four scores and ran 74 yards for a fifth.  Bryson Duncan scored two touchdowns.  Caleb Behrends, Tate Thompson, Sergio Rodriguez and Cody Dupre all had touchdown catches for Sidney who gets a measure of revenge against Bedford who rallied to beat Sidney in the fourth quarter last season.

Whitehead going 74 yards on the ground to score is alarming for future opposition as he has been thought of as a passer who has the size to run like a fullback. 

Sidney will host West Harrison next Friday.

Simply Solid

You can't really discuss baseball at East Mills over the last five years without starting with 2017 Corner Conference Baseball Player of the Year Matt Glockel.  In five years Glockel has gone from wide-eyed eighth grader in catcher's gear to the best player in the league.

"I never played catcher before junior high," said Glockel.  "I really felt like a fish out of water at times, but I figured things out eventually."

He might have struggled behind the plate that first season, but his .319 average was 11th best in the conference.  As a 9th grader he was regarded as a good defensive catcher and his average of .442 was 6th best in the league.

"I worked hard at it every year.  It's not magic and its really hot under the helmet - batting or catching," said Glockel,  "It was something I wanted to be better at and playing catcher just takes experience.  The hitting came a little faster."

His senior season was nothing short of stellar.  Widely regarded as one of the best (if not the outright best) defensive players in the conference, Glockel hit an even .500 (tied for first in the league) with just over half of his 39 hits of the extra base variety. 

"I always hit the ball hard, but what I don't think people realize is I got a lot faster," said Glockel.  "Some of what looks like an increase in power if you read stats is actually me turning singles into doubles."

His 15 two-base hits are far and away the best total in the league.  His three homers were also league best.  His 35 BI were second best, and his slugging percentage of .859 was untouched.  This catcher who behind the plate more than 100 games in his career was also second in the league in triples this season.

"Seriously, getting faster helped me in every sport, especially baseball.  Offense and defense," said Glockel.  "There is something about playing catcher and having the arm strength and explosiveness to throw guys out on the basepaths."

Don't wander too far off base or try to steal without a good jump.  That got you into trouble on Glockel's watch.

"Throwing behind guys, there is something so satisfying nailing a runner like that," said Glockel.  "Even when they respected my arm and played it close to the base or didn't run, it filled me with more confidence because I knew I could affect that game and disrupt the other team's offense." Glockel gunned down seven runners this season attempting to steal. 

He was also catching the night his brother Trevor pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief to pick up a critical win in a late season showdown with eventual league champion Fremont-Mills. "It was weird going home to the same house as the guy pitching.  It was something new.  I gave him a lot more crap than I would a pitcher I wasn't related to," said Glockel.  "He is a tough kid and he did a great job pitching.  I knew he could take it."

For the last five years Matt Glockel has been every bit a fixture as the Malvern water tower looming above the field.  2018 just won't be the same without him.

Past Winners

2016 - Chad Blank, Nishnabotna

2015 - Mackenzy Lang, Fremont-Mills

2014 - Austin Switzer, Fremont-Mills

2013 - Joseph Heitshusen, Nishnabotna

Slap Happy

2017 Corner Conference Softball Player of the Year Clara Schaaf led the league in both batting average and steals this season but it's her often overlooked runs scored that paints the most accurate picture of how well she has honed her craft.

In 91 plate appearances this season, Schaaf amassed 36 runs.  That works out to fewer than three times at the plate for every run scored for the Fremont-Mills speedster.

Schaaf bats from the left side of the plate, despite being right handed. "I started out batting right handed when I played little league softball in Tabor," she said.  "Finally I tried batting left handed.  Slap hitting came more easily to me"

Schaaf is a prototype slap-hitter.  Slappers are exceptionally fast runners who bat left handed because the batters box on the left side is one step closer to first base. They try to make solid contact and hit ground balls to the left side of the infield, forcing opposing fielders to make an extremely clean defensive play to throw her out at first.  That is if the defense can get to the ball at all.

"I didn't worry about where the ball went," said Schaaf.  "If I hit it hard it had a chance to get through the infield.  If they got to it they still had to throw me out at first."

Her .551 batting average led the league, and while all but one of her hits this season were singles, things rarely ended at first base.  She racked up 46 stolen bases this season. 

"I'm fast and I've worked really hard to become fast," said Schaaf.  "Of course I am going to use it to my advantage.  It gets me on base and once I'm there i know coach Fichter is going to send me if the next base is open."

Her on base percentage was .611 when you factor in her 11 walks on the season, compared to only four strikeouts.  She just didn't swing at bad pitchers.

"I don't like to take a lot of pitches.  I like to swing the bat." said Schaaf.  "But by the end of the season East Mills and Sidney, especially Sidney, were shifting and adjusting and making things a lot tougher for me.  That's what good teams do, though.  They adjust.  So I try to do the same thing by taking more pitches and hitting away from the players they shift."

In the varsity lineup since eighth grade, Schaaf has 110 career hits after her 44 this season. This tied her for the league lead with Camryn McClintock of Sidney.  Schaaf's bat and speed have made her a regular in the F-M lineup over her four seasons so far. 

She has had to learn several defensive positions. "I played all three outfield positions my first two seasons and last year even shortstop for a few games," said Schaaf.  "This year was mostly second base.  I feel right at home there."

Still, despite her considerable array of skills, when it comes right down to it games are won by total runs scored.  No one in the Corner Conference scored runs at a faster pace than Clara Schaaf this season.  When you compare runs to at bats, no one was even close.

"It's something I take pride in," said Schaaf.  "Sometimes people point out that I am a good SLAP hitter.  I think I'm a good hitter, who just happens to slap.  It gets me on base and I score runs and at the end of the day that's what any team needs."

Past Winners

2016 - Joni Laughlin, Fremont-Mills

2015 - Sara Skalberg, Essex

2014 - Devin Laughlin, East Mills

2013 - Kendall Fichter, Fremont-Mills

 

 

 

Sidney Wins Tournament Title

The second win was no where near as dramatic as the first.  Sidney cruised to an 8-1 win over regular season champion Fremont-Mills in the championship game of the Corner Conference baseball tournament, but they were perilously close to not being there in the first place.

East Mills, who had beaten Essex to make it to the semifinal and these very same Cowboys Thursday night, trailed Sidney for five innings.  A sixth inning rally turned the Cowboys' 3-0 lead into a 3-3 tie.  East Mills took the lead in the top of the seventh and left Sidney staring at a 4-3 deficit in the bottom of the seventh.

The Cowboys loaded the bases and and then back to back walks by Trey Athen and Jaden Sears ended it.  Sears was credited with the win in relief of Cameron Whitehead.  Sears pitched out of a jam to preserve a 3-3 tie and surrendered just one run after winding up in a bases leaded pickle.

In Stanton, Jacob Jenkerson and Dillion Rocha locked up in a pitchers duel that was decided by a Stanton defensive lapse in the fourth inning, followed by some clutch hitting by the Knights who went on to win 4-1.

F-M beat Clarinda Academy to make the semi final and the pounced on the Vikings in the fourth after some shaky defense and a walk loaded the bases.  James Switzer lined a two run single to center that would ultimately give the Knights all the lead they would need.  The game went well under two hours in sharp contrast to the last two games between the teams the contained 54 runs in total.

The Cowboys scored two in the top of the first in the final and never looked back en route to an 8-1 win over the Knights who locked up the regular season title after rallying from eight runs down to beat Stanton 14-13 on the very same field.

Sears held the Knights to one run in the complete game win and drove in a run to help his own cause.  Cameron Whitehead drove in a pair of runs for the Cowboys who saw their hopes for the regular season title dashed Thursday when East Mills whipped them 12-6 in Sidney.  The tournament title gives Sidney three of the four summer crowns after the Cowgirls won both the regular season and tournament title.

 

All In the Family

What do you do when your recently graduated older brother is regarded as one of the best players in the league and he leads your school to a Corner Conference title as well as a substate berth? You lead the league in scoring, shooting percentage and assists. Throw in the leagues second best steal total as well. Meet 2017 Boys Corner Conference Baketball Player of the Year Drake Johnson.

 

Johnson shot an incredible 351 times this season, but what was even more amazing was his 53.3 percent accuracy rate while not playing in a post position or close to the basket. He edged Fremont-Mills' Nate Laughlin by one assist to lead the league in that category as well turning the ball over only 61 times in the process.

 

He defended well too. His 47 steals were second to only teammate Connor Hultman league wide. Perhaps most importantly he handled the bulk of his teams scoring and distribution while the Vikings against finished atop the league, tied with F-M for the league title.

 

Just one season ago, it was johnsopn's older brother Brady winning the same azward, leading the league in scoring in the process. The Vikings undisputed league title and deep playioff run set a high bar this season, especially considering the deep, athletically gifted team across the way at F-M.

 

The Knights won two of the first three contests between the two sides this season. The first a fairly comprehebnsive 60-53 loss that saw Johnson score 21 of his teams points. The second a heartbreaking overtime loss in Tabor that gave the Knights the Conference tournament title. Johnson's 29 pionts weren't enough that night.

 

It was game three that will forever cement his reputation. Johnson piled up 43 points on 15-27 shooting to lead his team to a 55-49 win over the frontrunning Knights that allowed the Viknmings to steal a piece of the Corner Conference regular season title for themselves.

 

It helped that Johnson was no stranger to big games. He played a huge role coming off the bench in both of Stanton's regular season wins last season over F-M and was among the starting five when the Vikings took the court in Council Bluffs in the Substate final. After spending most of the season coming off the bench, Johnson wound up second to only Nishnabotna's Chad Blank in total assists as a freshman.

 

Johnson wraps up a memorable sophomore season averaging 20.8 points per game, 3.6 assists, and two assists. The Vikings record over the last two seasons has been 41-7 with him on the court and maybe, almost certainly, he has stepped out of his brother's shadow and into his own spotlight.

 

Long a girls' basketball powerhous, buys basketball at Stanton has come into its own. The bar has been raised in Stanton and Drake Johnson is a huge part of it.

Great Expectations

It was arguably the defining moment for Sidney this season. Halftime of the Corner Conference tournament final arrived with Sidney trailing 16-15 to Stanton and the momentumall in the Viqueens favor. The Cowgirl offense was averaging 60 points per game, but Stanton had limited them to just half that. Sidney looked out of sync, wrong footed and sluggish, but if the Viqueens stole the show in the first half, the second half belonged to 2017 Girls' Corner Conference Basketball Player of the Year Maddy Duncan.

 

“I saw her maturity during the CC tournament championship when playing Stanton,” said Sidney head coach Amy McClintock. “Everyone struggled offensively and defensively. When she came out in the 2nd half of that game, she just took over and I think she was the reason why we won that game.”

 

Duncan wrapped up the game shooting 8-16 from the field, 5-10 from three point range, and a game high 26 points in Sidney's 47-36 win. Nothing new for her. Her arrival to the high school ranks this season was one of the most eagerly anticipated in recent memory. She never had the luxury of sneaking up on anyone. Her very first high school game was a 7-8 shooting performance that included three 3-pointers in four attempts.

 

“After some of our summer work and scrimmages, I had no doubt.” said McClintock. “I knew that she would make a big impact coming into the regular season.”

 

At 5-foot-5, Duncan has to be a litle more creative and tenacious than the average scorer. It's something she has long been used to.

 

“The first time I can remember playing in a game was filling in last minute in one of my brothers games back in maybe first greade,” said Duncan. “I learned it was hard to keep up. When I play club basketball I play against six foot girls fairly often. I learned to alter the height of my shots and take advantage of being quick.

 

Her accuracy was uncanny. Her shooting percentage of 45.2% was second in the league to teammate Maryn Phillips who plays in the post. Her three point percentage of 37% and free throw percentagge of 72.6 were light years ahead of anyone not named Ashley Moreno (Fremont-Mills). She was one of only three players among conference assist leaders to have more ssists than turnovers at 87/47. Her 66 steals were sixth best overall. What does she do best?

 

“I would say her most valuable skill is her decision making. It shows through her shooting stat percentages,' said McClintock. “She reads the court well and knows who is open, when to pass, and when to shoot.”

 

Duncan wants to be a complete player.

 

“I feel sometimes that I'm thought of as just a scorer,” said Duncan. “I love everything about basketball. Passing, playing defense and scrambling for loose balls. I work on everything to get better and I hope it shows that I am a team player.”

 

Duncan wrapped up the season scoring 14.5 points per game. Her Cowgirls finished an unbeaten conference schedule, including a regular season and a Corner Conference tournament title. They added a regional title with a 55-52 win over favored Glidden-Ralston. That game saw Sidney roar to a fourth quarter double digit lead before holding on for dear life during the Wildcat comeback.

 

“I think our expereince going to the state volleyball tournament helped us handle the pressure that game,” said Duncan. “We didn't panic. Glidden was a really good team. We weren't falling apart. It was (Julia) Fleecs getting hot. Give them some credit. We played well. We had to.”

 

Sometimes the weight of great expectations is more than an athlete can bear. So far Duncan hasn't seemed to have any problem.

 

“We expect a lot out of her because of her club experience,” said McClintock. “It's a big step going from Jr High sports to being the starting point guard on a high school team who is expected to run the offense, make good decisions, and shoot the ball well.”

 

And qualify for the state tournament as it turns out. With Sidney almost certainly guarenteed to be 2A next year, the challenges just keep getting bigger. It's all old hat for Maddy Duncan.

 

“I've been trying to keep up with my brother and girls bigger than me from the start,” said Duncan. “The rest of the team works just as hard. I know the challenge will keep getting greater. I think our whole team will too.”

Past Winners

2016 - Daiton Martin, Essex

2015 - Macy Williams, Fremont-Mills

2014 - Macy Williams - Fremont-Mills

2013 - Macy Williams, Fremont-MIlls

 

 

Sidney holds off Glidden-Ralston

It didn't seem like it could possibly be that close.  24-1 Sidney had controlled the entire Regional Final against 19-3 Glidden-Ralston, at one point leading by double digits early in the fourth quarter.  But there the Wildcats were, knocking on the door despite exhausted legs that had struggled to match the Cowgirls pace all night.

"I had a chance to watch Glidden play at CAM earlier in the season," said Sidney head coach Amy McClintock.  "We had a plan, but it depended heavily on Kenzie (Hulsing) and Maryn (Phillips) being in the game to deal with (Julia) Fleecs at all times."

Hulsing and Phillips had fouled out however, and Fleecs put the Wildcats on her shoulders, cutting the 11 point deficit to two points with under 30 seconds to go with a series of end to end drives to the basket, each looking more unlikely than the last.  Sidney got the final stop they needed.  Caitlyn Ward hit one of two free throws with under one second remaining to account for the 55-52 final.

"I really think our experience the last two seasons playing in volleyball regional finals helped us a lot tonight," said McClintock.  "They were mentally tough tonight, and they needed to be."

Sidney opened the scoring in the first.  Hulsing put the Cowgirls up early with an early basket and it quickly became apparent that the Wildcats had a big advantage in size, but they struggled to keep up with Sidney's foot speed.  Glidden just couldn't get out to get a hand in the face of Sidney's perimeter shooters.  Ward, Maddie Moores, and Maddy Duncan all drained three pointers in the first half.

"I'm not sure we are the best conditioned team around," said McClintock.  "but we do take pride in being able to run hard for an entire game if we need to"

Halftime arrived with the Cowgirls up 25-22, and the Wildcats posture was poor.  Hands on knees, red skinned and breathing heavily and it only got worse in the third quarter for Glidden. Duncan started to catch fire.  She broke the Wildcat press, hit running jumpers in the lane and dealt pin point passes to teammates.  The lead grew.

"I told Maddy tonight that she was going to have to be big on defense as well," said McClintock.  "Not that she doesn't normally play good defense, but tonight we needed 32 minutes from her on both sides of the ball.  And she didn't let us down."

Camryn McClintock and Phillips started to dominate the boards and near the end of the third quarter it appeared Sidney might put the Wildcats in the rear view mirror.  But then Hulsing and Phillips both fouled out.  And the lead that had grown to 11 started to slowly vanish, and Fleecs started playing like her high school career was on the line.

"I know she ended up getting over 20 points but I thought we did a pretty good job on her anyway," said McClintock.  "At time we had Olivia Larsen guarding her and she might be 5 foot 5.  Fleecs is a legit 6 foot 2.  All the girls did their part."

Glidden began to foul with four minutes to go in the game and it was a solid strategy.  The frequent breaks and slower pace allowed the Wildcats to get a second wind and claw back into the game.  Fleecs took the inbounds pass and went the length of the court for a layup at least three different times and once dishing to Samantha Brown for a wide open three pointer.  The lead was down to two 10 seconds to go and Sidney was at the line.

The free throw missed and in the ensuing chaos the ball changed hands several times before Glidden attempted a long pass across the court that was pilfered by Ward.  She was fouled with one tenth of a second on the clock.  Ward hit one of two free throws before time expired, sealing the Cowgirls 55-52 win.

"The game plan was to make someone other than Fleecs or Holly Handlos beat us," said McClintock.  "I guess it worked but what a finish.  They didn't quit.  I'm so excited."

Sidney advances to the 1A Iowa State Girls Basketball Tournament next Monday where they will face unbeaten Elk Horn-Kimballton in the first round.  Glidden-Ralston Wraps up the season 19-4.