WAHOO, Neb. — Two missed practices because of snow days followed by a less-than-stellar rehearsal Thursday didn't stop Wahoo Neumann from administering a beating Friday night to Columbus Scotus.
The Cavaliers built their lead from 16 at halftime to 28 in the third quarter before it reached 35 points in the final eight minutes on the way to a 75-42 Centennial Conference victory in front of a capacity crowd estimated at 1,500.
What was expected to be a tight showdown between the two top teams in Class C-1 quickly turned into a lopsided affair as every Neumann player heeded the one word call to action from coach Mike Weiss after Thursday's soso practice.
Push. "With this group I didn't have to chew tail," Weiss said. "If you talk to them in a nice, respectful way, they will respond.
"With the kids I've got we can run. We want to push it because we feel we can run with anyone."
The loss was the first of the season for the C-1 No. 1 Shamrocks (18-1), who also were rated No. 7 in The World-Herald's all-class Top 10. At No. 2 in C-1 and 10th in the Top 10, Neumann improved to 16-1.
"We got humbled tonight," Scotus coach Jeff Ohnoutka said. "They took the fight to us right off the bat. We didn't adjust to that and that played right to their strengths."
Neumann not only pushed the tempo, it efficiently controlled the action at both ends of the court. The Cavaliers made 29 of their 49 field-goal attempts (.592), made 11 of their 13 free throws (.846) and only turned the ball over three times.
The Shamrocks didn't have nearly the same luck. They made 14 of their 35 shots, got outrebounded 29-17 and made just over half of their free throws (10 of 19).
"Defense was the problem," Ohnoutka said. "We didn't play it with any passion or desire to get any stops."
Ohnoutka also tipped his hat to Neumann's speed as a team.
"There's fast," Ohnoutka said, "and there's Neumann-guard fast."
It was Neumann's guard trio of Jaxon Simons, Noah Vedral and Ben Simons that inflicted the most damage. Those three teamed up to score 47 points, five more than the entire Scotus team.
Vedral led the way with 18 points on 8 of 10 shooting. Ben Simons added 17 — as did Cavaliers forward Reid Jurgensmeier. Jaxon Simons finished with 12.
Cody Mroczek and Miles Putnam led Scotus with 13 points apiece.
It was a good bounce back performance for the Cavaliers, who dropped a heart-breaker 60-57 to Hastings St. Cecilia in last week's Centennial Conference semifinals. If Neumann had won that game, it would have faced Scotus in the championship.
For now, the Cavaliers will take this victory to prepare for a pair of games next week — Tuesday against Platteview and Feb. 13 versus Aurora in Grand Island.
"We just told the kids we've got to grind this out," Weiss said. "Win the little things like the 50-50 balls, you've got to do those things correctly. They did that tonight."