'On Saturday, March 12, the Northern Valley boys' basketball squad played their final game of the 2021-2022 season, and defeated the Bucklin Aces 84-79 (overtime) to capture the third place title of the Class 1A, Division 2 State Basketball Tournament held in Great Bend.
"I was really proud of this team's efforts," Head Husky Coach Kevin Sides reported. "It was a game with 55 total fouls called and we had 28, so we had several boys that had to play with multiple fouls. The bench players had to play a lot of minutes. Drew and Brody really stepped their game up when we really needed them to. This was the best game we played after struggling the first two games of this championship."
Sides explained that this is the second straight year that the Huskies took home the third place state trophy. "Finishing the season with a 23-3 record is a great accomplishment," he said. "We're going to miss the three Seniors Eric Loya, Bailey Sides, and Aaron Estes, but we have a good core of players coming back. This team will go down as having one of the best seasons in N.V. history."
In the game (that started at noon) against the Bucklin Aces, Bailey Sides had a balanced attack for the Huskies with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists - earning a triple-double. Drew Schemper put in 13 points and had a team high 13 rebounds. Kenton Thalheim scored 12 points; and Eric Loya, Foster Brands, and Jeremiah Hansen each scored 10 points; Brody Preston added 8 points.
Prior to Saturday's third/fourth place playoff game against Bucklin, the Huskies fell 59-54 to Tribune/Greeley County on Friday, March 11 during their state tournament semi-final bracket play in the Barton Community College Basketball Arena.
The Jackrabbits of Greeley County went on to upset the favored Hanover Wildcats, winning by one point (56-55) to claim the 1A Div. 2 Championship title in Great Bend.
When the Huskies faced the Jackrabbits Friday at 2:00 p.m., the two teams were evenly matched up in their guard play; but the Huskies struggled shooting from the field. "Both teams' bigs played key roles for both teams. Foster Brands really stepped up and scored 22 points to lead us, and their center (Brandl) had 21points. For the second straight night of the tournament, we struggled shooting. It's hard to win games shooting 32% from the field and 22% from the arch, where we normally shoot well from," explained Coach Sides. "The kids battled and we were up late in the game, but the Jackrabbits made some shots down the stretch and we didn't."
Against Greeley County, Foster Brands led Northern Valley scores with 22 points. Bailey Sides had 12; Kenton Thalheim, 7; Eric Loya, 6; Jeremiah Hansen, 5; and Drew Schemper, 2 points.
On Wednesday, March 9 at 4 p.m. the third seeded Husky boys traveled to Great Bend to play their first-round game of their state tournament bracket. The Huskies came away with a 63-57 (OT) win over the Waverly Bulldogs.
The Huskies jumped out to a 12-7 lead after the first quarter, but struggled scoring in the second - and trailed 23-24 at halftime.
Northern Valley trailed 31-36 after the third quarter, but Eric Loya caught fire with 10 of the 24 points scored by the Huskies to force the game into overtime. "Thalheim, Schemper and Hansen had scoring drives and Sides scored a pair of free throws to outscore the Bulldogs to advance onto the semifinals. I thought we were lucky to get out of town with this win, but the determination of these boys was outstanding. Eric Loya had a great game with 22 points. Kenton Thalheim had 14 and came back into OT after turning his ankle late in the game, and really gutted it out. The kids deserved to keep playing."
Against Waverly, Husky scorers were: Eric Loya, 22; Kenton Thalheim, 14; Jeremiah Hansen, 9; Foster Brands, 8; Gabe Rudd, 4; Drew Schemper, 4; Bailey Sides, 2.'