By a point — Bulldogs will Return to Lincoln

By a point—Bulldogs will Return to Lincoln

By JOHN E. WEARE, Editor

Sure hands, slick hands. Quick feet, sure hands. Oh the teams you will meet—next week in Lincoln.It is all in your hands. So it was Monday night for the Alliance High varsity boys basketball team. On Mount Michael Bennedictine’s wooden court with 8.5 seconds, to be precise. The Bulldogs led 58-57 after head coach Michael Baker sent his team away from their final timeout. On the inbounds pass a Knight lost the handle in the lane. Mason Hiemstra grabbed the ball for AHS—and even Sir Arthur himself would not have pried it free.

Now, with the bus back on Niobrara Ave. before 10 a.m. Tuesday, the Bulldogs know they will play in Lincoln next Thursday. With four times and two locations in the opening round the exact location remains a mystery.

What do they know? Scottsbluff also won Monday against Seward.

The AHS seniors were all in diapers, if even born at all, when Alliance last brought home a Nebraska boys basketball championship trophy.Alliance has advanced to the state tourney twice in the past three years.They have the skills, leadership and pluck to run the table in 2019. Here is what the players said Tuesday as they returned home:“The way I felt after the game was amazing indescribable I’ve never been happier after a win!” “What an unbelievable feeling” –Konnor “The feeling after winning the game was the most indescribable feeling in the world. Knowing all your hard work has paid off and doing alongside your teammates is the greatest feeling.” –Reece Jensen

Even the trip to eastern Nebraska (this week anyway) was memorable in and of itself. The B8 district championship had been set for Saturday evening. Weather pushed the matchup to the same time Monday. The players, coaches and many fans made the trip — of about 400 miles, with the bus arriving Sunday. They gym itself looked like it could have been where Rudy would have played, if he would have been a basketball underdog in high school in Nebraska. Offense and speed carried the game in the first half. Alliance trailed 16-11 after one. Alliance led by a point, 29-28, stepping off the close confines and into the locker room.

The teams tied at 35 at 4:50 to play in the third. The Knights carried the quarter to lead 44-37 in what would be their final eight minutes of the season. High school basketball games have four quarters, and AHS was the best in the final frame. The home school, to use a track term, “kicked too early.” After building a 46-37 lead just over a minute into the period, the Bulldogs never wasted a second. Baker blew the doors off in the second half, leading AHS—and all scorers with 19 points. The underclassman found his stroke beyond the arc in a long-range attack. Always steady and dependable, AHS senior Mason Hiemstra was also in double-digits. He scored 12 fighting through double teams and injury. Palmer was a force for his team. Dubray tallied two treys. The bench fought, on the hardwood when they could, cheering from the bench the rest of the time. The Knights were on their own crusade. Four players scored more than 10.In the end, Alliance had the ball, the lead ...the win.Good luck in Lincoln—Alliance knows everyone else will need it.