GRAND ISLAND — With offense at a premium for both teams on Tuesday night, it was St. Cecilia’s effort and energy on the defensive end that helped propel the Bluehawks to 8-3 on the season in a 34-21 win over Grand Island Northwest.
“I knew this would be a very difficult task coming to a school that got knocked around really, really hard Saturday night,” St. Cecilia Head Coach Kevin Asher said. “But defensively, we were really, really good and we able to take away anything we wanted to.”
It was the Bluehawks’ disruptiveness on defense in the first quarter that made the difference, causing six turnovers in the quarter alone.
St. Cecilia jumped out to a quick lead thanks to Derek Boyd, who was one of just two Bluehawks to score in the first quarter. Boyd’s layup first put points on the scoreboard, but Northwest’s Christian Ellsworth answered to put the Vikings up by one midway through the first quarter. Senior Dayton Sealey finished a layup, followed by two free throws from Boyd and St. Cecilia led 6-3 after the first quarter.
The offensive blues continued for both teams in the second quarter, with the Vikings making just one field goal in the quarter. Sealey finished a contested layup, before Boyd got a rebound and layup the following possession to put St. Cecilia up seven.
The Vikings’ lone second quarter field goal came on a runner from Junior Trevor Lierman at the 2:12 mark. Senior Brooks Asher responded with a three-pointer, followed by a Northwest turnover and St. Cecilia led 14-8 at halftime.
Both teams were in need of an offensive spark to start the second half, but it was St. Cecilia that came through with that spark. Asher praised his team’s ability to take ownership of the situation saying, “I think these kids are experienced and they took it upon themselves to move the ball better and give us that eight to ten to twelve point lead and knock down a couple shots during that stretch.”
Senior Zach Kitten, who was one of three Bluehawks to finish with nine points, added five points in the third quarter. Both his and Derek Boyd’s presence on defense was felt throughout the game, but specifically in the third quarter where St. Cecilia allowed just three points.
“I thought our posts were really, really good. Derek (Boyd) and Zach (Kitten) did an excellent job of stopping anything inside. Zach was outstanding, even though he struggled offensively because of his free throw shooting,” Asher said. “Definitely Zach stood out for us and just our overall senior leadership grinding through a tough win.”
St. Cecilia took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter and never looked back. Junior Grant Schmidt found Kitten for an easy layup early in the quarter that put the Bluehawks’ up 26-11.
Northwest big man Brook Brown scored all six of his points during the fourth quarter, but four different Bluehawks’ made a free throw in the quarter to seal the victory.
Grand Island Northwest…..(21)
St. Cecilia (34)
Dayton Sealey 2-3 1-1 5, Grant Schmidt 1-3 0-2 3, Derek Boyd 3-6 3-4 9, Brooks Asher 3-6 1-4 9, Zach Kitten 3-6 2-6 9
Grand Island Northwest (21)
Isaiah Daws 1-1 0-0 2, Tanner Lierman 1-3 0-0 2, Christian Ellsworth 1-3 2-2 5, Riley Schliep 0-0 1-1 1, Will Mettenbrink 1-4 0-0 3, Brook Brown 3-10 0-0 6