The Syracuse High School boys varsity basketball team is having a record year!
With Tuesday night’s 58-22 win against Moscow, the Bulldogs have secured the number two seed in the upcoming High Plains League Tournament (HPL) held at Syracuse January 11, 12, 14, 15 and 16.
Coach Wahlmeier felt the boys put forth a great defensive effort. “Holding any team to 22 points is hard to do and we knew we had to fine tune some things on defense to get prepared for the league tournament.” Adding, “Losing 13 guys to quarantine, including three of our varsity bench, put us in a tough spot!”
He felt all the boys stepped up in a tough position and made the most out of the situation. Offensively, they got the looks they wanted all night, but the Bulldogs did not shoot the ball very well. “We’ll hit it hard in practice the next couple days and get ready for an outstanding Lakin team.”
Tuesday night’s win over Moscow puts them at 8-0. This puts the Varsity Bulldogs in the record books. The last time they were 8-0 was in 2007-08.
Head coach Jordan Wahlmeier said, “It’s been an exciting year so far for sure!” He is assisted by Tregg Thomeczek and Angel Salmeron. Adding, “We enjoy each and every win, especially in these crazy times, but we are not satisfied.”
Wahlmeier added, “The boys have not yet accomplished the goals they set. But we are doing a great job of putting ourselves in a position to be successful. I’m thrilled with how hard these boys work and how much they love to compete.”
Former head high school boys coach, Jeff Mathias recalls his 2010-2011 state qualifying team as 7-1 going into HPL, and former coach Bryce Simon also had a 7-1 a couple of years ago. “The state qualifying team from the 2008-2009 season was the last team to be undefeated at this point,” said Mathias
Bill Peeper, teacher and coach from 2000-2010, confirmed Mathias’ statement saying, “The only time we were undefeated leading up to the HPL tournament was in 2007-2008, starting 8-0 before losing to Lakin in the High Plains League tournament semifinals.” The seniors that year were Will Brown, Dalton Simon, Joe Englert, Cory Hatcher, and Luis Aguilera.
The Bulldogs win last Friday night 58-44 versus Southwestern Heights (SWH) was a battle according to Wahlmeier. “We knew going in that they had some quick guards.” With both teams coming off a long break, Wahlmeier was impressed with how the boys played, “Our endurance was there, execution was there, and the boys stepped up big on the defensive end!” He could tell they worked out individually over break and did some player-led things. “As a coach it was hard not to be there and support them, but we had some guys step up big and organize some things offsite, so we were able to maintain through the break and turn it into a positive.”
He felt the break was a good thing to rest and reset the motor a little bit, with the stresses of life off the floor this year. He did admit they attacked practice last week hard, introducing new offenses and sets, and the boys jumped right back in like they never left.
The Bulldogs will face a difficult task in the upcoming games with the Junior Varsity and C team in quarantine, due to possible close contact with a SWH player Friday night who tested positive for COVID.
This will leave seven players for varsity, losing Jay Gould, Alex Barraza and Roy Aguilar. Senior Ryan Thompson will change positions from manager to player this week. “This will give us numbers to complete a game without worrying about foul trouble.
“We mixed things up a little bit against SWH and tried to take them out of rhythm,” he said, “Coming in they were averaging almost 70 points per game, and our guys held them to 44. Another huge stat that jumps off the page is the taking six charges as a team!” Adding, “That is huge for team defense.I felt like we took a big step forward defensively, and I hope we can carry that momentum going forward,” said Wahlmeier.
But offensively they didn’t shoot well, maybe because the guys were a little rusty and still getting their game legs underneath them. SWH jumped out to an early 11-2 lead, but the guys stayed poised and kept battling. “We were getting good looks at the rim all night, but we just could not finish,” he explained. “But once they started executing, they got into a rhythm and started rolling.”
“We are a small team, so we preach how important rebounds are day in and day out and we set a goal to grab 36 boards but we fell short, only grabbing 32,” he said.
“Senior Joe Mitchell played a heck of a game,” said Wahlmeier. “He didn’t light up the scoring column, but he handled the ball during a full court man press all four quarters finishing with six rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. Senior Austin Plunkett had ten points, eight rebounds, three steals, and four blocks. “With an all around performance, he also stepped up and took some big charges for us that ignited us defensively.”
“Sophomore Kyler Keller was all over the floor making plays, finding ways to score when our offensive was beginning to get stagnant, playing huge minutes without much of a break finishing with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steels, a warrior!” he said.
Senior Uriel Diaz hit three huge three-point shots which jump started the Bulldog offense and sent them on a run. And defensively Uriel stepped up, took some big charges for them as well. “This was his best all-around game I’ve seen him play so far, he got it done on both ends of the floor and was a huge part of this win.”
Kolbey Brummett, senior, hit a buzzer beater three point shot at the end of the first quarter, giving the Bulldogs some momentum heading into the second, “And defended his tail off all night,” he explained, “It’s a hard task for him each and every night, because he constantly has to guard the other team’s best player.” Wahlmeier knows Brummett might not light up the scoring column, but he feels he does not need to. “What he does for us defensively with his communication and footwork is irreplaceable,” he explained.
Sophomore Hugo Leyva finished the night with ten points, four rebounds, stepping up to take a couple big charges. “He was getting it done on both ends of the floor and had a tall task defensively by guarding a taller/stronger post, which he rose up to the challenge and performed well,” said Wahlmeier.
Giving the Bulldogs a breather, coming off the bench were Jay Gould, Alex Barraza, Domanic Weis and Roy Aguilar. “They played at a high level and kept the intensity up defensively, executing and doing the little things right, and as a coach, that is exactly what you love to see your bench guys do,” said Wahlmeier proudly, adding, “If you want to have a great team, you have to have a great bench, and I wouldn’t trade ours for anyone in the state.”
Keller 6 0-2 15, Plunkett 3 1-1 10, Leyva 4 2-2 10, Diaz 0 0-0 9,
Mitchell 2 1-2 5, Aguilar 1 2-2 4, Brummett 0 0-0 3, Gould 1 0-0 2.
3 Point Goals – Diaz 3, Brummett 1, Keller 1, Plunkett 1.
Syracuse 13 14 13 18 – 58
SWH 16 7 8 13 – 44
Kyler Keller 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals
Austin Plunkett 10 pts, 11 rebs, 1 assist, 3 steals, 4 blocked shots, 2 charges drawn
Hugo Leyva 10 points, 3 rebounds, 2 charges drawn
Uriel Diaz 9 points, 1 rebound
Joe Mitchell 5 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal
Roy Aguilar 4 points, 2 rebounds
Kolbey Brummett 3 points, 1 assist
Jay Gould 2 points, 1 rebound
JV Boys vs. SWH won 48-28.
Tuesday night with JV and C team quarantined, Ryan Thompson. filmer and manager, got in the game as an emergency player as well! The team was excited. Stats VS. Moscow:
Mitchell 7 3-6 20, Keller 6 4-7 16, Plunkett 5 3-3 13, Brummett 2 0-0 7,
Leyva 1 0-0 2.
3 Point Goals – Mitchell 1, Brummett 1.
Syracuse 17 16 19 6 – 58
Moscow 7 5 8 2 – 22
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