By Kim Staudinger
Led by the three-point shooting of Big Sandy sophomore Jay Jamieson and the tough inside game of Gage Brumwell, the Pioneers won their first-round game against a scrappy Turner team, 72-59, Wednesday night at the District 9C Boys Basketball Tournament.
Jamieson, who finished the game with 20 points, got the Pioneers rolling from the start, draining two three-point baskets, giving Big Sandy a 6-0 lead at the start. Even though Jamieson made five of eight three-pointers on the game, the team co-captain said he wasn't necessarily confident about his shooting after that.
"I haven't really been confident that much all year," he said. "I'm just trying to get consistent."
Turner climbed back into the game later in the first quarter, due in part to back-to-back three pointers by Robert Van Voast and David Jones.
But Jamieson struck again for the Pioneers, scoring five points in the last minute of play to give Big Sandy a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Big Sandy led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, with even scoring contributions from Jamieson, Brumwell, Mason Ophus and Chris Yirsa. But Turner, backed by six points from Michael Van Voast and seven from Clancy Kegel, kept the game close, down by 13 at the half.
"We hustled hard in the beginning," Jamieson said. "We need to step our defense up though."
Despite keeping the game close, Turner coach Tim Conlan said he wasn't happy with how his team played in the first half.
"We were just cold. We had poor shooting, poor defense. The first half just wasn't a well-played game for us," he said.
Turner hit a bit of a cold streak coming out of the locker room after halftime, scoring just seven points in the third quarter. Big Sandy scored 15 to increase its lead to 56-35 with eight minutes of play remaining.
The resiliency of the Tornadoes came out in the fourth quarter as they outscored the Pioneers 24-16. Michael Van Voast and Robert Van Voast each scored nine points in the fourth to lead Turner's late rally.
"They played hard," Conlan said. "They don't quit. That's one thing they improved upon from last year. Even when they're down, they don't quit."
Both coaches agreed the main difference in the game was the height of the Big Sandy players. Three of Big Sandy's starters are 6 foot 3 or taller. Only two of Turner's starters are 6 feet or taller.
"We knew we could go inside on them and there wasn't much they could do about it," Big Sandy coach Roy Lackner said. "Tonight went pretty well because we could take it inside whenever we wanted to."
Said Conlan: "Their two big guys inside hurt us. We don't have anybody that big. They are huge."
The Pioneers shot nearly 54 percent from the field in the first half, 80 percent from three-point range, and just under 47 percent for the game. Turner shot right at 38 percent for both the first and second half.
Turner will face Box Elder tonight at 7:30 in a loser-out game. Coach Conlan said he feels confident about facing the Bears.
"We've played good games with Box Elder," he said. "They have been good games from start to finish. They are fun games to coach and for the players to play in."
Turner and Box Elder split on the regular season. Conlan said hopefully his team got some of the jitters out with Wednesday's game, but that "it's a long trip back to third place."
Big Sandy advances to the semifinals, facing Hays-Lodge Pole Friday at 7:30 p.m. Big Sandy defeated Hays-Lodge Pole once during the season, which Jamieson said gives his team some confidence coming into the game.
"They'll be tough," he said. "We just need to play tough defense and let our offense fall into place."
Said Lackner of his Friday night opponent: "Hays looks tough, but Box Elder was missing two kids. Number one, we've got to establish our inside game and get them into foul trouble. Number two, we have to stop their fast break. It will be key for us to defend their fast break."
Big Sandy Jay Jamieson 20, Gage Brumwell 21, Mason Ophus 17, Adam Jesperson 2, Chris Yirsa 7, Calenn Heppner 5.
Turner Michael Van Voast 15, Matt Klindworth 2, Robert Van Voast 19, David Jones 3, Brandon Simons 8. Clancy Kegel 7, Evan Hauge 5.