LINCOLN – Elmwood-Murdock was able to string together a large number of potential scoring chances against Auburn Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs used their defensive abilities to keep the Knights from capitalizing on those opportunities.
Auburn edged the E-M boys 51-42 in the third-place game of the East Central Nebraska Conference Tournament. Fourth-seeded E-M gained chances to cut into Auburn’s lead in the third quarter by forcing six turnovers in the period. Second-seeded AHS used its size and quickness on defense to prevent the margin from shrinking.
Elmwood-Murdock head coach Aaron Pryor said the third quarter was a turning point in the contest. Six-foot-eight Josh Lambert anchored an Auburn defense that forced E-M to take difficult shots.
“We talked about that with the guys,” Pryor said. “Early in the third quarter we had a lot of really good possessions. We simply weren’t able to finish them with points.
“A lot of that has to do with Auburn and the way they play defense. They make it really difficult to drive inside with their size, and their on-ball pressure is solid as well. They have a good team.”
Auburn (15-2) went ahead 10-5 early in the game and used a 10-1 run midway through the first half to go up 23-11. Elmwood-Murdock (10-8) made several steals in the third quarter and Massimo Lojing drew a charge late in the period. Carter Bornemeier’s 3-pointer with 1:19 to go in the stanza cut the gap to 33-26.
Auburn maintained control of the lead in the final eight minutes. Drives from Cam Binder and Brody Darnell made it 37-26, and Darnell’s layup off a Lambert block created a 39-28 edge. AHS iced the victory by going 10-of-11 at the free-throw line in the final 2:12.
Bornemeier drew one charge for E-M and added 14 points, four rebounds and two steals. Lojing drew one charge and posted 12 points and one steal, and Noah Willey generated seven points and four rebounds.
Nick Langfeldt had three points, three steals and one assist and Nolan Langfeldt scored six points. Cole Cooper and Drake Spohr each added one rebound for the team.
Pryor said the Knights are concentrating on collecting a strong finish to the campaign. The team will host Mead on Thursday and Falls City on Friday in 7:30 p.m. contests. E-M will then have back-to-back home games the following week. The team will host Louisville at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 and Wahoo at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 16.
Pryor said E-M is planning to make the best possible use of the upcoming practices. He said those would be important dates on the squad’s remaining calendar.
“This is a great time of the year to be able to have several practices in a row,” Pryor said. “At the beginning of the year we told the guys that we wanted to split the season into three separate parts. Now we’re entering the third part of the season, and we have a chance to do a lot of good things in this segment.
“It’s good to get these practices in on back-to-back days so we can focus on a couple of things we can clean up a little. That’s going to help us a lot as we enter the stretch run.”
Elmwood-Murdock 10 7 9 16 – 42
Auburn 17 9 7 18 – 51
Lojing 4-14 4-6 12, Nick Langfeldt 1-4 1-3 3, Nolan Langfeldt 3-7 0-0 6, Bornemeier 5-11 2-2 14, Willey 3-7 0-0 7, Cooper 0-0 0-2 0, Spohr 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-43 7-13 42.
C. Binder 3-6 4-4 11, Hughes 1-3 1-2 4, Darnell 4-4 6-7 16, Frary 2-6 0-0 4, Lambert 7-11 1-3 15, Baltensperger 0-0 1-2 1, R. Binder 0-0 0-1 0, Hall 0-0 0-0 0, Dixon 0-0 0-0 0, Patzel 0-0 0-0 0, Matteen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-30 13-19 51.