On a night filled with memories of special victories and championships, the Schuyler Warriors couldn’t come up with a third straight win Dec. 18 in a 73-51 home loss to Blair.
The night was designated to honor the Schuyler basketball team, commonly referred to as the “Jolly Green Giants,” that won the Class B state title in 1968 and early on it looked like the current version of the Warriors would add to the celebration.
Schuyler (2-3) took an early 5-2 lead on a jumper by Mason Kovar and 3-pointer from Tychique Kutalu as both teams pushed the ball up and down the court.
The Warriors added a layup by Jakub Langemeier, two 3-pointers from Kovar and another trey by Auston Hall to open a 17-7 lead with 1:10 remaining in the opening quarter, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
“I thought our first quarter was one of the best quarters we’ve had in a long time,” Schuyler head coach Lyndon Beebe said.
Blair (4-3) recovered by scoring five points in the final minute of the first quarter, a sign of what was to come.
A swarming full-court defense and deft passing on offense enabled the Bears to begin the second quarter with a 16-2 run that gave Blair a 28-19 lead midway through the period.
“Blair’s defensive pressure and depth wore us down in the middle quarters,” Beebe said.
But Hall, who led the Warriors with 15 points, wasn’t going to let Schuyler go down without a fight. He hit a pair of jumpers in the lane to pull the Warriors within five at 28-23 before nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the score at 31-26.
The Bears went to the locker room with a 35-29 halftime advantage.
The Warriors were still within striking distance when the third quarter began, but the Bears steadily extended their lead, outscoring Schuyler 25-10 in the period to build a 60-39 advantage.
“Blair is a quality team with size and depth. Right now, it is difficult to match up with a team like Blair,” Beebe said. “We will build on the good things we did during the game and particularly the first quarter, which should help us the remainder of the season.”
Junior point guard Quincy Nichols put on a dazzling display running the Blair offense. He finished with a game-high 27 points, including three 3-pointers. Garrett Thomsen added 12 points for the Bears.
Kovar scored 14 points for Schuyler and Langemeier had 12.
Schuyler faces Lakeview on Thursday in the opening round of the Columbus Holiday Tournament, which is hosted by Scotus Central Catholic.