MANLIUS – Kewanee coach Steve Salisbury says his team has the green light to shoot from behind the three-point stripe and on Friday night they took advantage.
The Boilers hit 9 of 20 three-pointers, including four during an important third-quarter run, as they defeated Bureau Valley 62-53 in Three-Rivers Conference action at the Storm Cellar.
Six different players attempted a three for Kewanee, but senior co-captains Dayton Ince and Matt Gustafson did most of the damage.
Ince made 4 of 7 three’s in the game and knocked down two during the Boilers 11-0 third-quarter run that was the turning point in the game. Gustafson also hit a trey during that stretch as Kewanee turned a one-point deficit into a 10-point lead halfway through the third period.
“We can shoot the three-pointer really well,” said Salisbury. “We knew when we came out, even if we started hot, they are a good team and they are going to make a run. We talked about that before we came out that this could be a game of runs.”
Storm coach Jason Marquis was disappointed the way his team defended Kewanee’s three-point shooters.
“You can prepare and work on close out drills all day, but it really comes down to what we talk about before the game, you have to come out and execute,” said Marquis.
“They are a good shooting team. We’ve got to learn to do a better job on our end to cover up shooters and if they do knock them down we can at least say they were contested.”
Kewanee (11-3, 5-0) came out red hot to start the game. The Boilers made 10 of their first 11 shots, including four more from behind the arc. A trey from Ryan Hicks made it 24-13.
Bureau Valley (12-8, 3-3) survived the three-point barrage and Frank Gebeck beat the first-quarter buzzer with a high arcing three of his own to cut the first-quarter deficit to 24-17.
Gebeck came up big for the Storm in the first half, scoring 10 points, and his steal and lay-up with 4:08 remaining made it 28-25. BV then got within one by the half on a step back three-pointer from Tommy Johnston at the buzzer.
Parker Neuhalfen gave BV their first and only lead of the game 13 seconds into the second half on a backdoor feed from Jordan Monier, but that’s when the Boilers got hot again.
Kewanee hit three straight three-pointers, two from Ince and one from Gustafson, and Dalton Nuding had a steal and lay-up to make it 44-34. Bryce Hansen stopped the bleeding with a three from the right wing but Hicks answered at the other end with his second trey of the night.
The Boilers outscored the Storm 18-6 in the decisive third quarter, extending their lead to 51-38. The Storm shot just 2 of 11 in the period, while the Boilers were 7 of 10.
The Storm would get as close as five points in the fourth, with 48 seconds left, after Neuhalfen hit a jumper from just inside the top of the key. But, Ince would make good on all six of his free-throws attempts the rest of the way to put the game out of reach.
“I thought we played a couple of really good quarters of basketball and we played a couple of really poor quarters of basketball,” said Marquis. “We gave up 24 points in the first quarter and 18 in the third quarter. With our team and our group, that is just not what we do and we won’t win games when we do that. I thought our kids battled and played hard. I just think we didn’t execute in a couple of quarters.”
Ince led all scorers with 20 points. Gebeck led the Storm with 15.
Notes: The Storm bench was shorthanded Friday without senior Hunter Klemme due to his wisdom teeth being removed over Christmas break. Logan Hoffert is also still out for the Storm ... BVHS graduate Patrick Smith was wearing orange on the Kewanee bench. He is in second year as an assistant with the Boilers ... Kewanee won the sophomore contest 54-49. Josh Mead led three Storm players in double figures with 13 points. Gage Smith and Payton Shipp added 10 points each.