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Creek Valley clinches first District Final berth in 11 years

SIDNEY, Neb. - The Class D2 District 12 Sub-District Finals took place Thursday night at the Cabela’s Athletic Facility in Sidney. After Semifinal Tuesday, the bracket held to chalk as the top-seed Creek Valley Storm (10-10, 5-0 D2-12) would meet the second-seeded Leyton Warriors (4-14, 3-2 D2-12).

Both teams won in different ways to get to the Sub-District Final, Creek Valley used a balanced offense to get past Potter-Dix 59-25, while the Warriors won a nail biter against Minatare in double overtime, 49-43. Thursday’s matchup would be the second of the year between both squads after Leyton dropped a home game back on February 2, 52-39, against the Storm.  

In the early stages of the game, both teams struggled offensively, but for different reasons. Creek Valley totaled just nine points in the first quarter, but had multiple shots rim out or just not fall. The strategy was easy to see early on from the Storm defensively, though, as they pressured the Warriors and played in-your-face, aggressive defense. It paid off forcing, unofficially, seven turnovers in the first frame alone.

The second quarter saw Creek Valley continue to force turnovers, taking another nine from the boys in cardinal, and getting easy transition buckets while also knocking down a few of those jump shots which weren’t falling early. Senior Michael Smith scored seven points during the eight minute period, leading a 20-point onslaught from the one-seed while Leyton couldn’t buy a bucket it seemed, managing only one point from the foul line. By halftime, the lead had ballooned to 23, 29-6.

After taking the momentum into the locker room, the Storm never gave it back in the second half putting up another ten spot in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth on their way to a double digit win, 53-21. Despite a much cleaner half of basketball which saw the Warriors turn the leather over only nine times, unofficially, the halftime deficit proved to be too much to overcome.

A pair of seniors shared player of the game honors as Creek Valley’s Pierce Leef totaled 11 assists in the game while also adding six points, six rebounds, and four steals. Jaydin Gartner played his final game in the cardinal and gold for Leyton tallying two points and a team-high eight rebounds.

The Warriors have their 2017-18 season come to an end with a 4-15 record, but losing only two seniors gives the fans in Dalton and Gurley a reason for optimism looking forward to next year. The other senior who played his final game is Kort Dye who finished his career with four points in the loss. Sophomore Drew Haley led the team with six points, followed by freshman Zackry Henke with five. Two other players managed two points each in junior Josh Kruse and sophomore Jeremy Carley.

The Storm took a similar page out of the playbook from Tuesday night with another balanced offensive evening. Off the bench, junior Garrett Sawyer improved on his 11 point total from Tuesday night’s Semifinal by putting up 15 in the win, Smith ended up with 10 with junior Tanner Crass just missing double digits at eight. Senior Michael Rahe totaled seven points with six more coming off the bench from junior Sam Grabowski and freshman Justin Ningen sank one of two free throw attempts late in the fourth quarter.

Creek Valley now turns their attention to their first District Final since February 2007 as they’ll hit the road to North Platte St. Patrick’s High School on Tuesday to meet the Cody-Kilgore Cowboys (11-8, 6-0 D2-11) with a trip to the boys state basketball tournament on the line.



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