BENNINGTON -- On Monday, Feb. 19, the Bennington Badgers proved why they were worthy of their fifth-place ranking in Class B as they raced to a 73-45 victory over the Schuyler Central High School Warriors in the opening round of the B-4 district tournament in Bennington.
The Warriors were hoping that their strong late season run, regrouping from illness and injury and developing some long-awaited team chemistry would help them pull the upset against the Badgers, but that was not the case.
Schuyler head coach Lyndon Beebe knew that his team was going up against one of the best that Class B had to offer.
“Playing a team like Bennington in the first round of districts had to be one of the three toughest draws in all of the Class B districts," the head coach said. "They have great athletes and size and there is no doubt that they are one of the top teams in the state in Class B. After playing them, I think they have a good shot of winning Class B.”
The Badgers did their homework defensively, as they held senior standouts Auston Hall and Noah Beebe to six and two points, respectively.
“They denied a couple of our guys the ball all night,” Beebe said. “That made it difficult to score at times but we did have other guys step up and hit some shots.”
One of those players was Mason Kovar who ended his Schuyler career with an outstanding 19-point effort including 5 of 9 from behind the 3-point arc.
Bennington was led in scoring by Cooper Prososki who scored 15 points. Thomas Spoehr added 13 points and Karson Gansebom totaled 12 points for the Badgers.
Beebe added that his team’s problems were not limited to scoring.
“The biggest factor was our inability to rebound both offensively and defensively," he said. "We gave up 11 offensive boards in the first half alone and that put us down big by halftime. We never could get enough going in the second half to make up for it.”
Bennington dominated the boards pulling down 33 rebounds, compared to only eight for the Warriors. Tyler Kohl, Hall, and Beebe led the Warriors in rebounding with two boards each.
The first and third periods were dominated by the Badgers, who were playing on their home court. Bennington led 21-7 after one quarter of play and 40-23 at the half. The Warriors needed to control the third quarter but Bennington outscored Schuyler 20-12 in the frame to take a commanding 60-35 lead heading into the final period.
Bennington battered third-seeded South Sioux City 89-56 in the district final then eliminated No. 9 Elkhorn South 76-64 in the substate final on Saturday night to raise their season record to 22-3.
With their loss to the Badgers, the Warriors ended their season with a record of 5-17.
“This team was one of my best teams ever in terms of attitude, work ethic, and just being a great bunch of guys to coach,” Beebe said. “I am very proud of how they represented themselves and our school throughout the season.”