Clippers rally past Mustangs in district semi-finals
The Clippers (18-2) advanced to the District 6 Tournament title game for the first time since 2008, and they qualified for the Region 3 Tournament for the 7th time in 8 seasons. South Border (Wishek-Ashley), which was seeking its first trip to the District 6 championship game sinceAshley placed second in the district in 2004, dropped to 11-10 on the season.
South Border grabbed the lead (9-6) midway through the first quarter on a 3-point play by Michael Rueb, and the Mustangs hold the lead for the next three quarters, and would not trail again until under a minute remained in the game. The Mustangs closed out the period with a 9-1 run to increase the lead to 15-7.
Michael Jacobson’s threepointer extended the margin into double figures (20-9) with 5:10 remaining in the first half, but Scotti Scherr knocked down a pair of threepointers during a 12-6 run by Strasburg-Zeeland over the next 2:20, and Cole Nieuwsma’s basket cut the lead to 26-21 with under 3:00 left in the half. However, a pair of free throws and a threepoint play by Jacobson over the next :45 doubled the lead (31-21), and the Mustangs took that margin (35-25) to the intermission.
South Border shot 65 percent (13 of 20) from the field and sank all 8 of its free throw attempts, while turning the ball over just 6 times in the first half. The Mustangs also held a 14-6 advantage in rebounds in the half, and Strasburg-Zeeland to collect just one offensive board. Strasburg-Zeeland hit on 10 of 21 (48%) field goals and just 2 of 7 free throws in the half. Jacobson scored over half (18) of South Border’s points in the first half, including 12 in the second period, while Scherr and Cole Nieuwsma paced Strasburg- Zeeland’s attack with 9 and 7 points, respectively.
Things would change dramatically for South Border in the second half, mainly because the Mustangs had all kinds of problems with Strasburg-Zeeland’s defensive pressure and traps. South Border looked to be in good shape early in the second half after Jacobson’s threepointer gave the Mustangs their biggest lead (40-27) with just under 6:00 left in the third period, and later, Rueb put back an offensive board to give South Border a 44-32 cushion at the 2:53 mark of the quarter. However, Strasburg-Zeeland ripped off 7 unanswered points over the next 1:30 to get back into the game, and Mason Kramer’s basket cut the deficit to 5 points (44-39), before Rueb sank a pair of free throws to give the Mustangs a 46-39 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Clippers would play the fourth period without starter Nic Kramer, who picked up 3 fouls in the third period and fouled out before the end of the frame.
The teams traded baskets on their first two trips of the final period, and Jacobson’s triple gave South Border a 51-44 advantage with 7:10 left, but that would be the final field goal of the night for the Mustangs, who misfired on their final 8 field goal attempts and turned the ball over 9 times over the remainder of the game. South Border went scoreless over the next 4:15, while Strasburg-Zeeland scrapped together a 7-0 run, tying the game at 51-51 on Kyle Nieuwsma’s three-point play with 2:53 left.
Niether team scored again until Hunter Pinke hit the second of two free throws to give South Border a 52-51 edge with 2:56 remaining, and the game went scoreless for over 2:00, before Kyle Nieuwsma nailed a three-pointer from the left wing to put the Clippers on top, 54-52, with :36 left. South Border turned the ball over on its ensuing trip, when Jacobson was whistled for an offensive foul, and Brody Nieuwsma hit the first of two free throws to cap an 11-1 run, which extended the lead to 55-52 with just :12.8 remaining.
Nieuwsma misfired on the second attempt, and Pinke rebounded for South Border. The Mustangs rushed up the court, before Jacobson fired a long three-pointer from the left side of the key in the closing seconds. The shot clanged off the back of the rim, but Rueb rebounded for South Border. However, the Mustangs were unable to get off another shot before time expired.
Strasburg-Zeeland didn’t improve on its field goal or free throw shooting in the second half, nor did the Clip- pers solve their problem in the rebounding department, but South Border went icecold from the field, and the Mustangs couldn’t take care of the ball, committing 15 turnovers over the final two quarters.
Strasburg-Zeeland finished 22 of 52 (42%) from the field and 5 of 15 (33%) from the free throw line, but the Clippers hit on 6 of 15 (40%) three-pointers, and committed just 6 turnovers the entire game, including just 3 miscues over the final three quarters. South Border hit 11 of 12 free throws and held a commanding, 38-20 advantage in rebounds, but the Mustangs hit on just 6 of 24 (25%) field goals in the second half to finish 19 of 42 (45%) for the game, and they turned the ball over 21 times, including 19 times over the final three periods.
Brody Nieuwsma paced Strasburg-Zeeland with 16 points, 5 steals, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, while Kyle Nieuwsma (6 rebounds, 3 steals), Mason Kramer (5 assists), Scherr (2 steals) and Cole Nieuwsma scored 9 points apiece for the Clippers. Jacobson was held to just 3 field goals and 8 points in the second half, but still finished with a game-high 26 points, while Rueb added 9 points for South Border.
South Border: Michael Jacobson 26, Michael Rueb 9, Hunter Pinke 5, Daniel Sayler 4, Ross Knoll 4,Adam Jacobson 4.
Stras.-Zeeland: Brody Nieuwsma 16, Kyle Nieuwsma 9, Scotti Scherr 9, Mason Kramer 9, Cole Nieuwsma 9, Nic Kramer 3.
3-Pointers: South Border (3-8): M. Jacobson 3, Strasburg-Zeeland (6-15): Scherr 3, K. Nieuwsma 2, M. Kramer 1. Fouled Out: N. Kramer (S-Z).