Ness City back to state, beats Oakley
Published on -3/3/2013, 1:53 PM
By CONOR NICHOLL
PLAINVILLE -- From the start, the Ness City High School boys' basketball team dominated Oakley. The Eagles led 10-1 early and 19-8 after the end of the first quarter. The Plainsmen never closed within single figures. Ness City's high-energy, pressure defense and constant attacking eventually led to a 62-47 victory in the Class 2A sub-state championship game at Plainville on Saturday night.
"We were hoping our pressure would bother them a little bit, and it did early," Ness City coach Matt Overlease said. "We knew we would give up some easy buckets in transition, but we were hoping to kind of counteract that a little bit by getting some steals, and we did that early. The guys just played tremendous, shot the ball well, just played with a ton of emotion."
Ness City improved to 16-7, while Oakley finished the year at 17-6. The Plainsmen enjoyed one of the best seasons in recent school history, but still missed out on its first state appearance in 31 years.
"No doubt about it, a tough way to end our season," Oakley coach Steve Allison said. "Just didn't start the game well and I think that carried all the way through. They looked quicker and fresher and got to more rebounds and loose balls than we did and just dug a hole too early, and never could get out of it."
The Eagles have advanced to state in each of Overlease's three years as coach, but has lost in the first round each of the past two seasons. This year's team has dealt with multiple injuries, mainly to senior guards Colin Foos and Garrett Flax, and nearly took a first round sub-state loss to Hill City.
However, the Eagles rolled in the final two rounds of sub-state with two victories by 15 points each. Ness City had four players score in double figures, led by 15 points from senior Koltyn Ratliff.
In the second quarter, Ratliff collected two steals and layups in the first 38 seconds. Oakley had six turnovers by the 2:56 mark of the quarter and seven overall.
"We used our speed and our quickness to make them make bad passes," Eagle senior Tucker VonLehe said. "Get them confused, because they weren't very good dribblers. We used that to our advantage."
Ness City finished with no turnovers in the quarter. In the third quarter, Ratliff made three treys.
"He shot the ball well," Overlease said. "That's the thing. We are capable of any night, somebody else stepping up and shooting the ball well."
Oakley senior forward Stephen Llewellyn finished with 14 points and suffered an ankle injury late. Plainsmen junior forward Austin Baalman averages double figures, but finished with four points.
"Honestly, I didn't know how we would be able to handle them man down low with their big guys," Overlease said. "Because they are big and good. We did a good job on them for the most part, and we did a pretty good job on their guards."