Bruins beat Rebels in double-header

By 
Ryan Peerboom — Enterprise Staff Writer
Friday, December 20, 2019
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Gardiner’s Alexis McDonald, center, is trapped by Shields Valley’s Brooklyn Baukol (12) and Haven Sager (14) on Thursday at Shields Valley High School.

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Enterprise photos by Ryan Peerboom

Luke Stermitz (5) drives past Aidan Jenkins, with his eyes on the hoop.

The Gardiner basketball teams beat Shields Valley on Thursday night in a local matchup at Shields Valley High School. The boys shrugged off a slow start to handily beat the Rebels, and the girls squeaked out a close win in both team’ first conference game of the year. 

 

Boys

The boys took the floor first, and both teams started slow before Gardiner broke away in the second and third quarter to beat Shields Valley, 56-36.

Not for lack of trying, neither team was able to find the bottom of the net for nearly the first four minutes of the first quarter. 

Finally, Gardiner’s Luke Stermitz drove through the lane for a layup and the Bruins were on the board. 

Shields Valley wasted no time and answered with a Dylan Flatt 3-pointer early on during the next possession. 

The teams both added a few buckets before either team put together a run to take an advantage. Tied at seven, the Rebels found their momentum. Another Flatt 3-pointer, followed by a free throw from Emmett Gilbert and an easy layup from Aidan Jenkins, gave Shields Valley a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, the Bruins took the momentum back. Elijah Byrd got things started with a layup in transition. Then, Favian Hudson hit back-to-back shots off post moves from the same spot on the floor to tie the game. Byrd gave the Bruins a 16-13 lead with a corner 3 on a fast break.  

The Bruins continued to build on their lead for the rest of the quarter, taking a 24-17 lead in to the locker room. 

Gardiner’s Taylor Rose drained a 3-pointer to start the second half, but the Rebels weren’t going down easy. 

Kaden Acosta answered Rose’s 3 with one of his own. A driving layup from Gilbert cut the lead to five. 

From there, Gardiner found a rhythm and began to separate. Back-to-back buckets from Stermitz gave the bruins a 31-23 lead. Another 3 from Rose pushed the lead to double digits. 

As Gardiner continued to separate from Shields Valley, the Rebels started to rush. They took quick shots early in possessions, and the Bruins were ready for it. In a short stretch, Rose and Hudson each blocked two shot to continue to keep the Rebels off the scoreboard. The Rebels’ frustration was evident, and forced coach Jacob Fisher to call a timeout. 

A 3-pointer from Byrd as the third quarter wound down pushed the Rebel lead to 45-27.

The game was in hand in the fourth quarter, with the Rebels unable to string together enough shots to close the gap. Ultimately, the Bruins added to their lead even further, winning 56-36.

Byrd led all scorers with 16 while Stermitz, despite playing fewer minutes due to foul trouble, added 13. Rose and Hudson were a force in the paint on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Rose had 15 points, propelled by his two third quarter 3’s, and Hudson added 10 points off the bench. 

Bruins head coach Brad Harbach saw the momentum shift once the shots started to find the net for Gardiner. 

“The momentum of the game changed somewhere in the second quarter where we were down,” Harbach said. “We made a run (and) came back just because we were doing good, solid, fundamental things.”

Harbach mentioned the strong defense throughout the game, especially the surge of blocks from Rose and Hudson in the second half. 

“A good effort on the defensive end, and I think that’s what got our offense going,” he said. “We made some big plays on the defensive end and it turned into some offensive opportunities. We took advantage of it.”

Hudson was huge off the bench, adding size and aggression on the inside. He said he was able to contribute because he knows where he fits with his teammates.

“I know my role on the team,” Hudson said. “Everyone has their roles, I know mine. Being the big man on the team, I know when they could use me. I just turn it on sometimes — I know when to take my shots and know when not to.”

Elijah Byrd hit some key shots near the end of the third and early in the fourth. He said he needed to step up with Stermitz in foul trouble because of what he means to the offense. 

“With Luke not in, there was a lot of space on the court because he’s a big part of our offense,” Byrd said. “The shots just came to me. I was open a couple of times and my teammates set me up pretty well.”

For the Rebels, coach Fisher said there were positives and they did a lot of things right, they just couldn’t get their shots to fall in the second and third. 

“We just couldn’t get the ball in the basket. I think that second quarter we were getting the right looks and they weren’t going in.”

Once the Bruins had the lead, Fisher said his team didn’t do enough on the defensive side of the ball to get back in the game. 

“We never put pressure on, never got our hands up, didn’t create any turnovers (and) never gave (ourselves) that opportunity to come back,” he said.

 

Girls

The girls’ game followed the boys and, once again, Gardiner emerged victorious in a tightly fought 46-40 win. 

The Bruins jumped out to a 6-3 lead early. With patience, and some free throws from Rane Sager, the Rebels were able to even things up.

The Bruins took the lead back with a jumper from Leah Veress, and added to their lead with a Sophia Darr layup. 

A free throw from Kyndra Long topped a 6-0 run to end the half for the Bruins and gave them a 12-6 lead to end the first. 

The Rebels were ready to answer at the start of the second and wasted no time tying the score. Tyler Deford came off the bench and nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to tie it at 12 in the blink of an eye. 

The Bruins took the lead back with two free throws from Veress, but gave it away on a 3 from Sager. 

Perry Dominick added another 2 for the Rebels on a short jumper, but Gardiner got hot again to finish the quarter on a 7-0 run. Five of those points came from the free-throw line with the only field goal coming from Bailey Fuhrmann on a second chance layup after corralling a rebound. 

Much like the second quarter, the Rebels didn’t take long to get things started in the second half. A layup from Brooklyn Baukol and a 3-pointer from Jaeli Jenkins gave the Rebels a 23-20 lead. 

Alexis McDonald drained a 3-pointer for Gardiner to even things up at 23.

The teams were evenly matched for the remainder of the quarter, trading scores without either team gaining a clear advantage. At the end of the quarter, the Rebels led by just one, 32-31.

The Bruins distanced themselves from the Rebels at the start of the fourth, rattling off an 11-0 run that gave them a 10-point lead. Josie Thomas found her stroke and made a 2-point jumper and drained a 3-pointer during the run.

With time running down, it would’ve been easy for the Rebels to pack up and call it a game, but they weren’t having it. Back-to-back scores from Jenkins, followed by a Baukol layup had the rebels right back in it. Two free throws from Haven Sager brought the Rebels to within two and forced a Gardiner timeout.

Out of the timeout, chaos ensued with less than a minute to go. Neither team could hold on to the ball and they traded turnovers back-and-forth. Finally, Gardiner grabbed a loose ball and took solid possession, forcing the Rebels to foul. 

Darr and McDonald both sunk big time free throws, putting the Rebels away, 46-40.

McDonald’s shot was working all night on her way to leading the Bruins with 15 points. Thomas added 13 and Darr scored nine. 

Jenkins led the Shields Valley offense with 12. Rane Sager had seven and Baukol added six. 

Bruins head coach Schalene Darr said effort was their focus and was happy with the performance, aside from a few errors. 

“We talked about just making sure we left everything on the floor tonight,” coach Darr said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but it’s still super early in the season. We talked about learning from those mistakes and just continuing to move on.”

Darr also said she was happy with the way her team rebounded on both sides of the ball.

“We were aggressive, we did better on the boards tonight, both offensively and defensively, I thought,” she said. 

Thomas was in the right place at the right time all night. The ball continued to find its way into her hands on both sides of the ball. She credited her teammates with helping her be successful.

“Our point guards are just really, really amazing,” Thomas said. “It’s just crazy to see how well we work together and how well we pass the ball, and it’s really not me, it’s them throwing the ball to me.”

Coach Darr said McDonald was waiting for her breakthrough and she had it tonight. McDonald said things started to flow once they found out how to attack the Rebels’ press.

“I think, just once we got our press break broken down we played pretty well as a team and we kind of came together,” she said. 

For the Rebels, coach Mitch Ward said there were positives from the game, but they need to work on their free throws. 

“I think the girls played really hard,” Ward said. “I think they worked their butts off on defense. We missed a couple of assignments and that kind of ate us, but honestly, the story of the game is we shot 7-for-24 from the free throw line and lost by four points. They shot 16-for-26.”

Jenkins played a big role in keeping the Rebels close at the end. She said she was ready to answer her coach’s call.

“(Coach) Ward was asking us, ‘Who’s going to do it? Who’s going to step up?’ and I just thought, if no one else would, I have the fire inside me that I can do it,” Jenkins said.

 

Up next

The Rebels play on Friday at West Yellowstone. The boys start first again, at 5:30 p.m., and the girls play at 7 p.m.

Gardiner also plays on Friday at Ennis. The games begin at 4 p.m. and the girls are slotted to play first. 

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