After running the show for the first three quarters, the Seneca boys’ basketball team survived a late scare from the Diamond Wildcats to win their opening game at the Seneca Tournament, 55-47, on Thursday at Seneca High School.
The Indians opened the game with the hot hand, and that ended up carrying them in the end. The Wildcats won the opening tip, but Elias Roelfsema quickly stole the ball and scored in transition, and Tyrell Hembree followed by doing the exact same thing on Diamond’s next possession to give the Indians a quick lead.
Following a Diamond jumper, the Indians got a jumper from Hembree sandwiched between 3-pointers by Bradley Jumper and Seth Harris to quickly give the Indians a 12-2 lead. They extended the lead to 23-7 later in the quarter and led 25-12 at the end of the first period.
The Indians remained in control in the third, quarter, and led by 20 (45-25) late in the third before the Wildcats suddenly came alive and went on a 16-0 run into the fourth quarter to close within 45-41. The tide seemed to change for the Indians when senior starter Chance Smith went down with an injury in the third and didn’t return.
The key play for the Indians, however, turned out to be Isaac Gayer’s turnaround jumper in the paint late in the fourth to put an end to Diamond’s run and spark Seneca’s own 10-2 run to put it away.
“When Chance went down, that hurt us. That made us change some things in the second half,” Indians coach Will King said. “I also think it kind of took us out of it mentally. Give Diamond credit though, they did hit some good shots there and had a nice spark there at the end.
“But I’m glad to get out of there with a win. We’ll regroup and we’ll have our hands full (today) with Lamar.”
With the Indians playing so well for the majority of the game, and with the deficit growing by the minute, coach Brandon Rabel said he was proud of his team for refusing to roll over. Their unwillingness to give up allowed them to make some noise late in the contest.
“I’m very pleased with the effort, I felt like we competed extremely hard,” Rabel said. “It’s early and we haven’t gotten to practice in over a week. It’s a struggle trying to get better while (you’re not practicing) but I’m real proud of the effort. Given what we did with no practice, I feel like we’ve got a pretty high ceiling.
Page 2 of 2 - “Honestly, (the Indians) were unconscious in the first quarter. They made everything. We had hands in their face and it didn’t matter. They’re a really good ballclub. I’m really pleased with the way we played on their court.”
Tyrell Hembree led the Indians with 20 points, while Harris added 16, Roelfsema 10, Jumper five and Gayer four.
Triston Shepherd paced the Wildcats with 18 points, while Evan Moreland poured in 10, Brodie Bien nine, Michael Bray six and Darren Russow four.
Both teams are back in action at the tournament today. Diamond takes on Miami at 6 p.m. The Indians face Lamar at 7:30. Diamond will face Lamar at 2 p.m. Saturday. Seneca squares off with Miami at 3:30.