Published Friday, December 13, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:27 am
Lincoln Southeast rolls past Islanders

GRAND ISLAND - Any coach worth his salt has a little bit of spin doctor in him. Being able to find a positive aspect of a bad situation is pretty much an essential job skill. But sometimes all you can do is be honest.

After seeing Grand Island fall 67-34 to Lincoln Southeast, Islanders coach Jeff Hofeldt was direct — painfully so.

"I could bash our team, because we didn't play well," Hofeldt said. "In fact, we played horrible ball tonight. I know everyone will give us no chance Saturday against Omaha South. But I know these kids, I love these kids - they'll be back, and they'll work hard and they'll compete. Tonight just wasn't our night."

Grand Island (1-2) saw things go south virtually from the opening tipoff, as Southeast dominated the first quarter. The Knights' defense smothered Grand Island's outside shooting for most of the game, and the defensive linemen-physiques of BJ Day and DJ Foster meant that any Islander heading into the lane was going to receive a physical greeting. Southeast coach Jeff Smith said that his team's depth and experience, with 12 seniors on the roster, meant that working hard on defense was an expectation.

"Experience makes a difference," Smith said. "We were able to keep fresh faces on the floor, and that meant we kept a lot of pressure from our guys at the two and three positions. Our big guys have worked hard in the weight room, and that paid off. There's height inside, but sometimes size means something different. Tonight it came down to us having leverage to get position."

Southeast (2-1) was able to score the first eight points of the game, six of them coming off shots within inches of the basket. Trevor Wojtalewicz broke through for Grand Island with a basket, but Southeast continued to press its inside advantage before Brady Blazek connected for a three to give the visitors a 17-4 advantage.

The Knights led by 15 after the first quarter, then went on an 18-5 run in the second to well and truly take control of the game. Much to Grand Island's frustration, especially after last weekend's success from outside the arc, the Islanders were 0-of-seven in the first half and guard Pierce Almond was held scoreless. Grand Island finished the night hitting just three of 18 attempts from outside the arc.

"We shot poorly in the first half — we were five of 26 from the field," Hofeldt noted. "We didn't have good shot selection as a team, and nobody was able to establish themselves."

The Islanders were able to find a little more success with the ball in the second half, as Almond hit a pair of threes in the third and Jacob Morrow finished the quarter with a three-point play. Unfortuantely, Southeast was able to keep generating offense as the Knights' bench rose to the challenge.

Smith agreed that his team's early start changed the tone of the game significantly.

"It's pretty nice when you can start a game that way," he said. "We got some deflections off our press, and got a couple of easy baskets. Some things bounced our way, especially early on. But again that's the result of our depth. We have some very good practices because our guys challenge one another. Depth was important tonight and it's something that's going to help us later in the season."

Lincoln Southeast (2-1) ............. 21 18 14 14 — 67
Grand Island (1-2) ..................... 6 5 11 12 — 34

L: Blazek 5-7 0-0 13, Beebe 1-2 1-2 3, Gifford 0-3 2-2 2, Clare 1-3 1-2 3, Peterson 3-7 2-2 8, Hays 2-2 0-0 4, Morris 0-2 0-0 0, Richards 1-4 0-1 2, Beamon 2-6 1-2 6, Schueth 1-4 0-0 2, Lepard 3-4 1-2 7, Anderson 1-1 0-0 2, Foster 1-3 0-0 2, Day 3-8 6-6 13. Totals 24-56 14-19 67.

G: Almond 2-9 0-1 6, Shuck 0-4 0-0 0, Witkowski 2-8 1-2 6, Morrow 1-1 1-2 3, Chol 1-3 1-2 3, Wojtalewicz 2-9 2-5 6, Root 1-1 0-0 2, Bel 1-4 1-4 3, Lenear 1-1 0-0 2, Uhin 0-3 0-2 0, Morrow 1-3 1-2 3. Totals 12-46 7-20 34.

3-point shots — LSE 5-10 (Blazek 3-3, Peterson 0-2, Richards 0-1, Beamon 1-2, Day 1-2), GI 3-18 (Almond 2-8, Shuck 0-3, Witkowski 1-4, Wojtalewicz 0-1, Uhing 0-2). Rebounds — LSE 43 (Peterson 7, Lepard 5, Foster 5), GI 29 (Biel 6, Witkowski 5). Assists — LSE 12 (Beebe 3), GI 5 (Witkowski 2). Turnovers — LSE 10, GI 17. Personal Fouls — LSE 21, GI 19. Fouled Out — none. Technical Fouls — none.

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