Goessel Advances to Sub-State Semi-Final
Skyler Wuest will be celebrating his birthday tomorrow big time after putting up career numbers against Canton-Galva tonight. The Goessel Junior absolutely sizzled the nets with 31, including 5 threes and nearly perfect free throw shooting. Bluebird shooters started slow but ignited in a huge 23-10 third quarter. There was only one lead change as Goessel went up in the 2nd quarter and never looked back. The Bluebirds had just played the Eagles three nights ago and that one had gone down to the wire 49-47. The visitors’ bleachers were packed with fans eager to see a repeat performance against the favored hometown Bluebirds; it appeared the Eagles tried a different game plan tonight but the Bluebirds had some tricks tucked under their feathers as well. With plenty of trips to the foul line by both teams, three Eagles fouled out, Goessel was able to keep the Eagles grounded and finished 69-55.
Canton-Galva started with full court pressure and maintained that throughout the contest. Goessel stayed in a man to man most of the night. Out of the chute, the visiting fans were loud and proud as the Eagles connected for three straight treys for their biggest lead of the night 3-9. Goessel was on the board with Eddie G finding Jake on the break, Wuest went 2/2 from the line, but Goessel was forced to call time at 4:31 after numerous turnovers. At 3:45, Zogleman found paydirt with a nice drop-step move and moments later Hiebert knotted it at 9 with a great runner. Again, the Bluebirds were able to bust the press with a finish from Gaeddert and Duerksen sliced in for two more to leave it at 13-13 at the break.
Not 25 ticks into the 2nd quarter, #25 launched one from 25.25 feet with a 25 foot high arc and the Goessel crowd erupted as the Bluebirds went up 16-13. Canton-Galva’s Struber and Collins both collected 2 fouls but the ball continued to be semi-greased as ball-handlers turned it over again. At 5:42, Zogleman went down in a scrum and had to sit with a tender leg. Wuest got into perfect form pulling up from 8 feet for 2, then Gaeddert teased the crowd with a new trademark reverse lay-in to which his Dad just nodded in full agreement: “EG does that at home all time.” Time out Goessel 1:53. Jake stretched the lead to 6, 24-18 but Huff launched an answering three and Struber followed to close back within one. The 11-10 quarter ended the 24-23 half.
In one of the Bluebirds’ most sensational four minutes of the year, Wuest put up three treys and Hiebert and Duerksen each hit one. Skyler literally knocked out the hot cocoa machine and caused pizzas to start baking one after another by themselves at Goessel Grocery & Deli with his three perfect form long range bombs. Hiebert was so far back fans watching from Canton reported seeing lightning flicker between the hot water and cold water towers there. Duerksen’s three caused the water to slosh two feet up in the air at Grandpa’s hole #3. With the lead at 12, the Eagles reverted to their former game plan of sending the big guy to the hoop. Collins ended up at the line numerous times. Dawson Stutzman was credited with a great stop/head fake underneath and collected foul #3 on Struber. Caleb Burkholder stepped into the game and the first time down the floor put up a nifty baseline jumper to push the lead to 45-31, tied for the largest lead of the night. Stutzman then showed hustle again with a great follow underneath to close the 23-10 3rd quarter at 47-33. The KXKU announcer on livestream loved the 3rd quarter action.
Goessel was at the line 30 times in the foul-laced 4th quarter and the Eagles also had their share of opportunities with both teams in the double bonus. Struber, Collins and then Maltbie all fouled out, with Maltbie called for a technical foul after being called for his 5th. To start the 4th, Maltbie hit a three to close to 47-36 but Wuest answered with his 5th of the night, this one so long all the Christmas lights at the west end of town came on again. Both Zogleman and Hiebert sat most of the quarter with injuries. At 6:04 Canton-Galva called time down 10, 51-41 and the Goessel student section led by Dylan Riley pulled into “Roller Coaster” mode again, making life seem so much more normal in this strange year. Luke Wiens threw a huge long bullet pass right on the money to a streaking Wuest for the lay-in, Collins was called for a charge and a few seconds later fouled in mid-court for his 5th at 3:12. Duerksen floated coast to coast to lead 58-48 in a huge lead-saving moment, then Wuest buried two charities and it was back and forth at the foul line the rest of the contest. Goessel’s bench played well tonight and defensive stances kept the Eagles much more outside the paint than in their previous engagement. It was great to hear the Goessel band playing at nearly full force; the gym was rockin! During the last time out of the night, the Goessel cheer team led the assembled fans in “The Mighty Blue Bird Beat” and all felt better about the world. With the clock ticking down, the Eagles were not ready to call it a night and sent the Bluebirds to the line three more times. Timekeeper Jim Schmidt earned commemorative Luke Unruh alumni honorary points for stopping the clock with exactly .1 second remaining. Great Bluebird hustle and some extraordinary offensive good fortune tonight put this one in the “W” column and will have the Bluebirds facing arch-nemesis Little River next week March 5 to continue their post-season quest.
On the other side of the bracket tonight, Solomon took double OT to beat Rural Vista 70-59 and Sylvan Lucas Unified beat Lincoln 67-39. They will also play next Friday at Sylvan-Lucas Unified.
Goessel’s Skyler Wuest led all scorers with a phenomenal 31 points tonight, hitting 5 threes and going 10/14 from the line. Happy Birthday Skyler! It is understood that #25 had a protein shake for breakfast this morning- it certainly seems like stocking up on those might be a good plan. Also, apparently a nap in the late afternoon might portend another outing like this going forward. Caiden Duerksen put up a solid 12, using his great inside step to advantage. Jake Hiebert put up 7, Eddie Gaeddert 6, and both Caleb Burkholder and Dawson Stutzman contributed 4 off the bench. Nate Zogleman scored 2, Luke Wiens 2, and Jacob Schrag finished with 1.
Best wishes Bluebirds for a solid performance next week against “The Team from the Little River.”