BUHLER— There's nothing like ending a two-game slump by taking out the No. 1 team in Class 4A with four more games left in the season. Buhler High School boys basketball outplayed Augusta High School, 57-38 on Friday night.
The Crusaders snapped their two-game losing streak and improve to 10-6. While Augusta, which is now 12-4 this season,had a wake-up call after a poor-shooting performance against the Crusaders. The Orioles don't usually have a bad-shooting night, but on Friday they were 6 for 16 from behind the arc. The first two shots were back-to-back in the first three minutes of play in the first quarter. Since then, Augusta couldn't find any shooting rhythm the rest of the night. Augusta's head coach Jake Sims had a feeling this would happen after a bad week of practice.
"We practiced terribly last week. This was coming," Sims said after the game. "Coach (Ryan) Swanson had a good plan and probably the worst thing that could've happened to us is to come out and making our first three shots, thinking we were too good to play and obviously, we got ours handed to us tonight. All the credit goes to them. They did a good job. They won, we lost and now we got to go find ourselves again."
The Crusaders played aggressively on defense, forcing the Orioles to make uneasy shots, especially against their big man Zach Davidson, who finished the night with 10 points, and their sharpshooter Jaren Jackson, who finished six points.
"When our biggest guy on the floor doesn't want to be the biggest guy on the floor , that makes it hard," Sims said. "We got manufactured everything, but credit to them (Buhler). We got to learn with four more games left in the season. Hopefully this is a big teaching tool for us, and hopefully we move forward, and we're better off because of it."
Buhler took Friday's win as a team effort. Four Crusaders finished in double figures. Max Alexander was the top scorer with 14 points. All of them came in the second half. Both Isaac Leshore and Isaiah Hernadez also had a big as they both tied with 12 points each. Myles Thompson, who went one-on-one against Davidson the whole game picked up 11 points.
"It was a huge win for us because we got ours handed to us on Tuesday by a good Maize team, and then you got Augusta, which obviously the best in 4A coming in, and we got McPherson coming up," Buhler's coach Ryan Swanson said after the game. "We knew we had to play well even to hang in there and I thought that was the most complete game that we put together this year."
Swanson also mentioned that he had a hard time deciding which of his players had a better performance because it was an all-around team effort. He then gave high praise to Hernandez, who sparked offense early coming off the bench after subbing in for Alexander, who got into foul early on.
"Isaiah is a capable player, and he showed what he can do, and he's only a sophomore," Swanson said. "He just only going to get better, and I told my kids in the locker room that you hate to give the game ball on such a team win but if I had to choose, it would definitely be Isaiah. I'm just proud the way he stepped up tonight."
Buhler had a slight lead in the first half as they led 25-24, heading to the locker room. It was all Crusaders since then. The Orioles only made two baskets in the third quarter, and were outscored 16-6. The Crusaders had their largest lead of the night when they were ahead 41-29 at the start of the fourth quarter. With five minutes left, the Crusaders took advantage of their comfortable lead managing the clock. Augusta was warned out due Buhler's depth and rotation.
"They have really good players and I thought we did too," Swanson said. "I thought we did a pretty good job of defending Davidson and Jackson. We have a tremendous amount of respect for all of the players, especially Jackson. I felt if we stay fresh on them and not letting them get easy looks. It seemed that they were breathing hard and rightfully so. We played one or two guys usually, and I think we were able to take advantage of that a little bit."
The Crusaders have another challenging league game as McPherson High School will be in town on Tuesday. Augusta, now lost two straight, will return to host to host Circle High School.
Augusta -- 12; 11; 6; 9 -- 38
Buhler -- 13; 12; 16; 16 -- 57
Augusta: Davidson 10 pts., Andrews 9 pts., Wilcox 8 pts., Jackson 6 pts., Parker 5 pts.
Buhler: Alexander 14 pts., Hernandez 12 pts., LeShore 12 pts., Thompson 11 pts., Scott 4 pts., Dick 2 pts., Hawkinson 2 pts.