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Indians Win Tournament Opener

The St. Francis Indians defeated Golden Plains in the first round of the Sagebrush Classic Basketball Tournament on Monday, December 9. The Indians gradually increased their lead throughout the contest to take a 59-42 victory. The win advanced the Indians to the championship semi-final contest to be played at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 13. At that time, the Indians will play Logan in the South Gym at Brewster High School. Logan defeated Wallace County 71-39 to advance.

St. Francis trailed only twice in the contest; 0-2 after an opening basket by Harley Weise (Sr.) for Golden Plains (GP) and then again late in the first quarter. On the next possession after the opening GP basket, Jesse Baxter scored from the paint for the Indians. Brady Dinkel followed with a right-wing trey. Ashton Schiltz (So.) added a right-baseline jumper for GP, but it was answered by a high-post jumper by Baxter (assist Colton Neitzel). Junior Wade Rush gave a glimpse of things to come when he buried a left-wing trey for his first basket tying the contest at 7-7. An assist by Ben Busse led to a transition jumper by Preston Witzel. On the Bulldogs' possession, Jaime Infante (Sr.) answered from the circle. At the opposite end, Baxter nailed a jumper near the free-throw line. After a bit of a slow start, the teams were beginning to find the basket with regularity. With 1:47 remaining in the first quarter, Rush drained another trey giving the Bullldogs the advantage 11-12. Rush scored again after a St. Francis turnover increasing the deficit to three. Witzel tied the contest with a trey from the right-wing, and an assist by Busse led to a basket in the paint by Dinkel. St. Francis held a slim 16-14 lead over the scrappy Bulldogs after one quarter of play.

An assist by Brady Dinkel set up a right-wing trey by Josiah Sims to open the second quarter. Sims then added a deuce on a fast-break (21-14). Jaime Infante chipped in a lane basket, but a high-low assist from Jesse Baxter to Colton Neitzel soon answered. With both teams playing zone defenses, ball movement and good shooting was necessary. Ashton Schiltz and Wade Rush (trey) scored baskets for GP reducing the margin to two (23-21). At 2:38, Golden Plains called time-out. After a Baxter free-throw, Harley Weise made a shot from the right-block narrowing the advantage to one (24-23). Colton Neitzel added a free-throw and a lane basket to move the score to 27-23 at halftime.

it took the teams a bit to find the basket in the early minutes of the third period. Colton Neitzel made one-of-two from the line at the 6:41 mark and eventually Wade Rush scored for the Bulldogs in the lane. St. Francis followed with an 8-point run receiving a lane basket by Neitzel (assist Brady Dinkel); a Dinkel-to Ben Busse-to Dinkel fast-break layup, and a left wing jumper by Adam Krien (assist Neitzel). Golden Plains called time-out at 4:24 hoping to stop the Indians' momentum. After the time-out, Adam Krien added a free-throw line jumper on an assist by Dinkel. The Indians now led 36-25. Fabian Cepeda (So.) followed with a lift-wing deuce for the Bulldogs. As the Indians picked up the game pace, the options for easy baskets increased. Though the Indians missed several layup opportunities in the third period, Preston Witzel added a layup. Neitzel scored on a steal-two, and Dinkel sank a pair of free-throws. The SF advantage had grown to 41-27. GP added the next two baskets; an offensive rebound score by Infante and a coast-to-coast drive by Wiese. Busse drained a buzzer-beater trey to close the period. St. Francis led 45-31.

Wade Rush opened the final quarter with a pair of free-throws. Jesse Baxter followed with a stick-back basket, but Rush then drained a trey (his 3rd of the game). An assist by Baxter led to a free-throw jumper by Adam Krien. With 6:14 left in the contest and trailing 49-36, Golden Plains called time-out to discuss strategy. After returning to play, Preston Witzel drained a trey for the Indians after an assist by Brady Dinkel. Dinkel then found Baxter in the lane for the next SF score. Jaime Infante's offensive rebound basket was followed by a free-throw jumper by Wade Rush. Witzel then responded with a left-corner trey giving the Indians a 57-40 advantage. The final baskets of the contest were a deuce by Weise for Golden Plains and score in the paint by Cutler Mayer for the Indians. St. Francis defeated Golden Plains 59-42.

St. Francis was led in scoring by Preston Witzel with 13 points. Jesse Baxter scored 11 and Colton Neitzel 10. Brady Dinkel added 9, Adam Krien 6, Josiah Sims 5, Ben Busse 3, and Cutler Mayer 2. The Indians only committed 9 team fouls. St. Francis was 5 of 8 from the stripe and had 10 turnovers.

Wade Rush of Golden Plains led all scorers with 20 points. Harley Wiese added 8 and Jaime Infante added 6 to the Bulldogs score. The Bulldogs made 2 of 4 from the line. GP had 7 fouls and 12 turnovers.

In other first round games, Logan defeated Wallace County 71-39; Wichita County beat Weskan 51-46; and Triplains-Brewster won over Cheylin 51-45.

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St. Francis 100 College Street St. Francis, KS  67756

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