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Boys' hoops

Keota suffers a hit to its conference title hopes with loss to rival Sigourney

By Travis J. Brown, Journal Sports Editor | Dec 12, 2012
Photo by: Travis J. Brown Keota junior Derek Berg goes up for a layup during the first half of Tuesday's game against rival Sigourney.

KEOTA — After losing two of its last three games, it was important for Sigourney to get out to a good start on Tuesday night at rival Keota.

The Savages were a red-hot 8-for-14 from the field in the first quarter of Tuesday’s South Iowa Cedar League contest, building a 17-9 lead after eight minutes of play. The Eagles never got closer than six points the rest of the way, as Sigourney held off a late push by Keota to win 57-51.

“We played last night and lost, and I thought we really needed a good start,” Sigourney head coach Mitch Eslick said. “We haven’t been shooting the ball well for the first five games of the year, and once we got a little confidence and shot the ball well, we really started clicking offensively. Just mentally we needed a good start. We got that, and I think we kind of built from there.”

Keota junior Kolton Greiner’s free throw put the Eagles up 1-0 in the opening moments of Tuesday’s game, but the Savages scored the next six points and never trailed again. Sigourney senior Vaclav Bujnoch’s fadeaway 3-pointer with three seconds left in the first quarter gave the Savages a 17-9 lead.

Keota (4-2, 4-2 SICL), meanwhile, made just three of its 12 shots in the first quarter.

“We dug a little hole at the beginning of the game, and it was hard for us to get out of it,” Keota junior Luke Lyle said. “Our shots just weren’t falling. That happens some games.”

Sigourney (4-2, 4-2 SICL) led by nine points at the half. The Eagles trimmed the lead to six points three times in the third quarter, and Lyle’s free throws with 6:07 remaining in the game again cut the lead to six. But Bujnoch and Sigourney senior Brandon Stuhr combined to score 10 straight points as the Savages extended their lead to 16 points with just under three minutes remaining.

The Savages would need every bit of that lead. Keota responded with a 12-2 run, and the Eagles trimmed the lead to six when Lyle banked in a runner with 31 seconds left. But Bujnoch and senior Allan Denny both made a free throw in the closing seconds to help the Savages hold off Keota.

“Keota, I think they came back from eight down with a minute left against BGM in the first game of the year, so we knew they were capable of scoring in bunches and scoring quickly,” Eslick said. “They have good shooters. So we were nervous up until the end.”

Keota head coach Dan Stout was proud that his team didn’t give up, even when the Eagles were down by 16 with less than three minutes left.

“Our kids battled hard,” he said. “We just got behind by too many to make it close.”

Lyle scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half to help the Eagles rally. He also had 10 rebounds and five steals in the contest. Sophomore Nate Owen added 13 points, while Greiner and junior Derek Berg chipped in eight points apiece.

Bujnoch scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Savages, who shot a season-best 46.7 percent from the field in the contest.

“We didn’t have a good game last night,” Bujnoch said of his team’s 53-46 home loss to BGM on Monday night. “We didn’t shoot very well. I’m glad we shot better this game.”

Stuhr finished with 14 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. The Savages also got a career-high 12 points from Denny.

“On the stat sheet, V had 23 and 11 rebounds, and he was very, very good, but when we’re very good is when we have five guys together playing their roles,” Eslick said. “I thought that was really the key tonight.”

While the Savages got a much-needed win, the Eagles, who rolled to a 20-0 record in SICL play last season, suffered their second loss in the league and a hit to their conference title hopes.

“It definitely hurts,” Stout said. “We definitely don’t hold our own destiny. But we’ve just got to keep battling and see what happens.”

Lyle said Tuesday’s loss was especially painful because it came against rival Sigourney.

“It makes it even worse since it’s to Sigourney and we play football with them,” he said. “We’ll be looking forward to the next time we play them.”

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