SUTHERLAND — Despite having defeated Ogallala twice already, Gothenburg entered Thursday’s C1-11 Sub-District Final with something to prove.
The Swedes did so, draining nine 3-pointers in a resounding 61-38 victory at Sutherland High School on Thursday.
The two teams met less than a week ago in the regular season finale — a game that the Swedes won 55-44 — but comments afterwards put a chip on the shoulders of the Gothenburg players and coaches.
“We knew [Ogallala’s] intensity would be high and that they felt they could play with us, especially after that last game,” Gothenburg head coach Roger Koehler said. “In fact, they maybe made some comments about how they thought they should have won [on Feb. 19] and that we weren’t as good as people thought. That might have helped us out a little bit [on Thursday].”
Another aspect that helped was Gothenburg’s outside shooting, as they drained six first half 3s.
As is the objective of most Swede opponents, the Indians tried to slow down Gothenburg leading scorer Dawson Graham, who averages over 20 points per contest. The Indians did hold Graham and second-leading scorer Ty Clement to a combined six first half points, but on the heels of their hot shooting, the Swedes still led 28-19 at the break.
“We ran every defense we had at [Gothenburg], but they ran us out of every one and just shot the ball exceptionally well,” Ogallala head coach Jason Glenn said. “We really tried to be physical and in particular crowd Dawson Graham, Ty Clement and Collin Hahn and knock them off their rhythm, but we just didn’t do as good of a job as we wanted to in that regard.”
The Swedes picked up right where they left off in the third quarter, getting 3-pointers from Patrick Messersmith and Hahn on consecutive possessions in the first minute of the third quarter, pushing their lead to 13 at 34-21.
“I thought we moved the ball pretty well and our shot selection was very good,” Koehler said. “Ogallala tried a triangle-and-2 and a box-and-1 defense and it slowed us down for a little while, but we have a lot of kids on our team who can shoot.”
Graham finished with a game-high 14 points, while Hahn and William Healey each added 13.
Healey averages just over three points per contest, but his big night speaks to Gothenburg’s depth and unselfishness.
“Will Healey is a really good shooter, so it’s not surprising that he did what he did. Him stepping up and making three 3s was huge for us,” Koehler said.
Jordan Cogdill led the Indians with 12 points and was the only Ogallala player in double figures.
The Swedes will play Gordon-Rushville in the C1-6 District Final on Monday at a site and time to be determined. The Mustangs defeated Chadron 42-39 in overtime in their sub-district final on Thursday.