AXTELL — Amherst nearly scored more points in the first half than Axtell tallied in the entire game on Friday night.
The Broncos came out and thrived from beyond the arc to gain a sizable advantage, scoring 49 points in the first half. The early success allowed the Broncos to ease to a 70-51 victory over the Wildcats, who’s five-game winning streak came to an end, at Axtell High.
It was a bounce-back performance for the Broncos, who lost to Arcadia/Loup City 64-46 on Thursday night.
"Unbelievable. Unbelievable," said Amherst coach Eric Rippen on his team’s performance. "We played last night and it wasn’t pretty. The kids knew what we expected and what we could do if we played the way we can. Scoring 49 points in the first half is special, and that’s what we are capable of. They responded well."
The Broncos’ full-court pressure rattled the Wildcats (5-2) early. The tight defensive play allowed the Broncos (3-2) to force the Wildcats to take contested shots and commit an occasional turnover, which led to transition baskets on the offensive end.
In the first quarter, the Broncos drained 6 of 9 shots from beyond the arc and shot an impressive 68.8 percent from the floor to hold a 28-16 lead.
"We shot it really, really well in the first quarter," Rippen said. "They played with some confidence tonight."
The Broncos started the second period on an 8-1 run to hold a 19-point lead. Brennan Runge scored the Wildcats’ first bucket on a jump shot with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left in the second quarter.
With five seconds left in the half, Dominic Espersen made a pair of free throws to stretch the Broncos’ lead to 49-30. The Wildcats pushed the ball up the court and found an open Runge, who drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The second half was more competitive than the first with the Broncos outscoring the Wildcats by a slight 21-18 margin.
Near the end of the third quarter, Coleton Vavra’s basket pushed the Broncos lead to 62-40. The 22-point advantage was their largest lead of the game. Kalon Rohde scored off a turnover about midway through the final quarter to put the Broncos ahead by 22.
The Broncos finished the game shooting 52.7 percent. They didn’t make a 3-point shot in the second half, going 7 of 18 from beyond the arc in the contest. Tanner Thomsen scored a game-high 19 points for the Broncos.
Defensively, the Broncos held the Wildcats to 38.9 percent, including 23.8 percent from 3.
"We had a little let back from the first half, but we weren’t going to score 49 again because that’s incredible," Rippen said. "I asked them to keep them under 50 and win the ball game. Before I subbed, it was 48, 49, and that’s what I am proud of the most."
Amherst 70, Axtell 51
Scores by Quarter
Amherst (3-2) 28 21 13 8 — 70
Axtell (5-2) 16 17 7 11 — 51
AMHERST — Kalon Rohde 4, Josh Eloe 10, Tanner Thomsen 19, Scout Simmons 9, Dominic Espersen 9, Coleton Vavra 13, Talon Trampe 6.
AXTELL — Tyler Danburg 16, Zach Hinrichs 17, Jacob Wehrer 1, Brennan Runge 13, Calvin Johnson 4.