Despite a 16-point, 11-rebound night from Sophomore Easton Hall, the Schuyler Central High School Warriors boys basketball team dropped their home opener to the visiting Madison Dragons by a final score of 51-43 on Nov. 30
The stats showed that the game was evenly played. Schuyler committed 21 turnovers with only five coming in the second half while Madison had 15 giveaways. Madison committed 22 personal fouls compared to 21 for the Warriors, and Madison was 13 of 29 from the free throw line while Schuyler struggled as well hitting only nine of 25 attempts for 36 percent.
Schuyler Central head coach Lyndon Beebe was concerned with the turnovers.
“Obviously we’re going to have to do a better job of handling the ball," he said. "If we can do a better job of avoiding turnovers, we could be pretty competitive.”
The difference in the game was the speed of the Dragons in the first half. They seemed to be one step ahead of the Warriors at both ends of the court during the first 16 minutes of play.
Schuyler’s Oscar Velez scored the first points of the season for the Warriors as he knocked down a pair of free throws to give SCHS the early 2-0 lead. Velez ended up in double figures with 10 points.
Madison’s Keaton Hendren then drilled a 3-point jumper giving the Dragons a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish.
Hall’s driving lay-up cut Madison’s lead to 5-4 with 5:18 to go in the opening quarter but the Dragon’s responded with a 6 -2 run making it 11-6 following a traditional 3-point play by Jason Gonzalez.
Another Hall layup cut the deficit to 11-8, however Madison responded with another 3-point bomb, this time by Avery Rosales, making it 14-8. The Dragons outscored SCHS during the final 2:36 of the frame to open a 19-11 lead after one quarter of play.
The closest the Warriors could climb in the second quarter was at the 3:02 mark when Rosel Diaz hit a layup making it 24-19. Madison kept Schuyler at bay the rest of the quarter as the visitors built a 32-23 lead heading in to halftime.
A foul shot by Madison’s Gabriel Romero and a layup by Hendren to begin the third quarter gave the Dragons a 35-23 lead, and it appeared as if they were ready to put the game out of reach, but Schuyler’s young squad kept battling back to stay within striking distance.
Jump shots by Nolan Healy, Hall, and Diaz brought the Warriors back to within 35-29 midway through the third quarter. A free throw by Hall with 2:03 left cut the deficit to 37-32. Two more baskets by the Dragons and another layup by Hall with 20 seconds to go made it 41-34 in favor of Madison heading into the final quarter of action.
Neither team could break into the scoring column for the first 2:28 of the fourth until Aaron Langemeier and Velez hit consecutive layups for the Warriors pulling the hosts to within three points at 41-38.
“I was very proud of how we battled back and cut the lead to three points at that point," Beebe said.
Gonzalez came right back with a two-point jumper for the Dragons making it 43-38. The offenses then stalled for the next two minutes due to turnovers and missed free throws.
A charity toss by Hendren made it 44-38 in favor of the Dragons until Hall hit another short jumper in the lane to keep SCHS close at 44-40. Romero’s layup with 1:39 put the Dragons back on top by the score of 46-40.
Three foul shots by Madison’s Joan San Pedro, sandwiched around another layup by Hall, made it 49-43 with 57.5 seconds to play putting the game out of reach.
With no seniors in the starting line-up Beebe expects his team to improve from game to game.
“We know that we will improve from week to week. I think the fact that we only had five turnovers in the second half was an indicator that we were pretty nervous in the first half and that we are capable of competing well.”
The Warriors return to action this Saturday when they travel to Plattsmouth to take on the Blue Devils.
Doug Phillips is a freelance writer for the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net