Photo Courtesy of Jerrianne Wallace
A new wrinkle, here and there, is always a good thing for a basketball team entering the district tournament. Maybe something an opponent hadn’t game planned for, or a new approach is something that can always be a benefit. In yesterday’s district quarterfinal win over Kingston, the Jefferson Blue Jays introduced another weapon that teams need to watch out for.
His name is Nolan Roth.
Roth scored 24 points and drained seven three pointers in a 56-24 victory over the Cougars. The win advances Jefferson to Wednesday’s semifinal game against St. Pius. According to Jays head coach Sean Breeze, Roth took it upon himself to step up. “Last night was a little weird,” Breeze mentioned. “We had a number of guys battling the flu all weekend, and we always talk about next man up, and yesterday was absolutely Nolan Roth.”
Roth scored nine points in the first half, equalling Jon Weik‘s output as Jefferson took a 31-16 lead at halftime. But Roth didn’t stop there. He scored nine of his team’s 15 points in the third quarter, and six of their ten in the fourth to hit his career high in scoring. Jefferson, as a team, had seven three pointers…all from Roth.
“My teammates were being really aggressive to the rim, which allow for a ton of open threes for me tonight,” Roth said after the game. “I was feeling it tonight, and my teammates did a great job of realizing that and feeding me.” When asked if future opponents need to be wary of the 5-7 junior, Roth simply stated, “If any kid hits seven threes right before you play them, it’s something to plan for.”
Breeze said Roth wasn’t just doing his job on the offensive side. “Nolan also started expanding the lead with his defense in the second quarter, and continued the intense play throughout the second half.” Coaches will tell you…it takes every single player on the team to win a district title. And the Blue Jays should be well acquainted with that since they won their first-ever district crown last season.
Seven other Jays scored Monday. Weik ended the day with nine points. Daylen Whitener and Levi Ebersoldt each hit for six points. Colby Ott notched five points, and Hadyn Wagner, Dawson Jakoubek, and Colton Richardson each contributed two points.
Wednesday, two familiar foes will meet at Herky High School. Jefferson will take on St. Pius, winners over Cuba, 65-41 yesterday. These two teams are obviously very familiar with each other, and Coach Breeze knows it’s going to be a battle. “Knowing each other the way we do, I doubt there will be too many surprises,” he admitted. “Our key factor will be to establish control on the defensive end of the court, and we have got to knock down some perimeter shots. They are very talented, and it will take a complete team effort on both ends. Maybe the biggest factor will be the emotion. It’s going to be an extremely packed house and very loud. Those circumstances always have an effect one way or the other.”
The two teams will play at approximately 7:30 p.m. after the Steelville/Herky game. The district championship will be determined on Friday.