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Ducey: Like its star, Peru State is nearing a new level

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Corday Sims

Corday Sims’ recent tear has Peru State again in contention — Sims has scored 33, 42 and 37 in three of the last four wins, and PSU is just a game out of the Heart lead.

If it wasn’t for a blocked dunk, Corday Sims would have had a triple-double on Saturday.

His stat line already was impressive: 33 points, a career-high 19 rebounds and nine assists.

“He played really well,” coach Eric Behrens said.

The 85-79 win over Missouri Valley put No. 18 Peru State (17-9, 13-5) one game behind Heart of America leaders William Penn and MidAmerica Nazarene with four games left. Right where they need to be, Behrens said.

“We feel like we control our own destiny as far as getting to the national tournament,” he said.

Getting to the NAIA Division I nationals is all that matters to Sims, not the big numbers he’s been putting up down the stretch.

Last week, he had a career-high 42 points in a 105-104 overtime loss to MidAmerica Nazarene. He had 37 points in 31 minutes against Culver-Stockton.

Sims is averaging 25.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He ranks first in NAIA Division I in total scoring (651), second in total 3-point field goals made (87) and points per game (25.038) and third in 3-pointers made per game (3.346).

On Monday, he and UNK senior Connor Beranek were named to the 50-player watch list for the Bevo Francis Award, an honor given to the small-college athlete with the finest season.

Sims already was a second-team All-American last year, but Behrens said he has raised his game to new levels. He’s worked hard in the weight room to get lighter and stronger. He’s lost about 15 pounds to sit at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds.

“I think it has made a really big difference,” Behrens said. “He’s always in the gym shooting, always working on his game.”

Sims has never dunked, but Behrens said he has a great feel for the game and how to get his shot off. He’s a tough matchup for guards because of his size, but big men can’t contain him off the dribble.

He isn’t double and triple teamed because he has too many good shooters around him. Kris Frazier (11.8), Darwin Ellis (11.1) and Quantice Hunter (10.6) also score in double figures.

“He’s a very talented young man. He really wants to win,” Behrens said. “He’s trying to get us on his back and take us as far as he can as a team.”

In other basketball news:

» Millard North graduate Allison Swanson recently reached the 1,000-point milestone for Evangel University. The two-time honorable mention All-American is averaging 11.0 points and 6.2 rebounds.

» McCook Community College stormed past Central 99-63 on Saturday to move to 19-8. The Indians will play North Platte on Feb. 23 to decide the Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference title.

The McCook women clinched their seventh conference title and first since 2013 with a 105-65 win over Central. The Indians are 24-2 and 4-1 in the conference.

» Northwest Missouri State shot 46.8 percent from the field and 42.3 percent from 3-point range to defeat Northwestern State 73-66 and claim its third straight MIAA regular-season title.

The Bearcats earned a slot in Kansas City when the MIAA tournament shifts to Municipal Auditorium on March 4 to 6. The tournament starts March 1 when Seeds 5 through 12 play on campus sites. Seeding and tournament pairings will be announced Feb. 27.

Lopers win fourth straight conference tournament

The No. 5 University of Nebraska at Kearney wrestling team rolled to its fourth straight MIAA tournament title behind six first-place finishers on Sunday.

UNK scored 110.5 points to outdistance No. 18 Central Oklahoma (71).

Seniors Devin Aguirre (165 pounds), Romero Cotton (197) and Daniel DeShazer (133); juniors Destin McCauley (149) and Calvin Ochs (174) and sophomore Keith Surber (141) won their weight classes.

Zach Stodden (18-8) was runner-up at 184 and named the MIAA freshman of the year. Seniors Connor Bolling (125) and Chase White (157) were third.

The Lopers are off until the Super Region IV Championships on Feb. 26 and 27.

Concordia wrestlers extend domination

Seventh-ranked Concordia kept Morningside from regaining the GPAC wrestling title.

The Bulldogs (13-4, 7-0 GPAC) won eight bouts on the way to a 32-7 win over the Mustangs and celebrated a second straight undefeated run through conference dual action. The Mustangs had won the title from 2011-14.

“It was about getting kids to buy in,” coach Dana Vote said. “I came in with a vision for the program with where we wanted to go. I went out and found kids and told them what our plan is. I told them if you buy in, this is what’s going to happen. It’s a process. I don’t think we’re where I want to be yet, but we’re building in that direction.”

Andrew Schulte, No. 1 at 141, breezed to his 18th straight win. Schulte (32-6) has yet to be part of a Concordia team that has suffered a defeat to a conference rival.

“It means a lot, honestly,” Schulte said of winning the GPAC title. “To be a part of something like this, I’m grateful, period. That’s it. I’m just grateful.”

Midland track ‘peaking at exactly the right time’

The Midland University distance medley relay team has the best time in the NAIA heading into the GPAC championships.

Ty Hansen, Travis Phillips, Tanner Justesen and Danny Aldaba were sixth in 10:10.60 at the South Dakota State Indoor Classic last weekend. Their time bests the 1989 school record by more than nine seconds.

Phillips also competed in the 400 meters and finished with a career-best time of 50.71 seconds, second-best all-time at Midland. Kylee Smallfoot moved up to No. 5 all-time with a 3:02.53 in the 1,000.

“The group of athletes that went to the South Dakota meet had one mission: qualify for nationals, and they accomplished that,” coach Mark Kostek said.

“As a whole, the teams are peaking at exactly the right time.”

The GPAC championships are this weekend at the Devaney Center.

In other news:

» Chadron State senior Skyler Hoopes achieved a long-time goal by going 16 feet in the pole vault at the same event.

He’s owned the Eagles’ outdoors vault record the past two years and claimed the indoor record (15-11) earlier this winter. He cleared 16-0¾ while finishing fourth.

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