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Team effort leads to Airedales’ win 1/3/22

Team effort leads to Airedales’ win

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

SHERIDAN — Alma boys basketball coach Dominic Lincoln has said from the start it’s all about the process. A difficult non-conference schedule would help the team in January and February. 

 

If the RPI (rating percentage index) existed in high school, the Alma Airedales might be in the Top 10 of the state. Entering Wednesday’s game with 9-2 Sheridan, the Airedales had lost seven games to teams with combined records of 52-28. 

 

Then the schedule-makers lined up 9-2 Sheridan. 

 

But the Airedales, who’ve led in nine of 10 games, didn’t falter in the second half when it counted most. In fact, they used stellar defense to hold off the Yellowjackets, 52-51, in the first round of the Sheridan Tournament. 

 

“It was such a good win for us,” Lincoln said following Wednesday’s victory. “I just challenged them to playback to their standard. I thought it was really good to come in here and play Sheridan on their home floor.”

 

Alma overcame the loss of senior Hunter McAlister, who left the game — and the arena for a Benton hospital after being injured — in the third quarter. Lincoln turned to a smaller lineup in the fourth quarter that included three players — Daniel Howard, Demetrio Cerda, and Stewart George — each under 5-foot-10. 

 

After building a 41-30 lead with 2:21 left in the third quarter, the Airedales withstood Sheridan’s 16-5 push that saw the Yellowjackets take their only lead of the night (46-44) with 5:25 left in the game. 

 

“For us to have a lead, and then deal with them on a run, and then losing Hunter, everybody just stuck together,” Lincoln said. “I told them, ‘We’re in a dark place right now, losing six in a row. Nobody’s going to come save us — we’ve got to save ourselves.

 

“I thought they really listened to me and responded.”

 

Logan Taylor’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:50 left gave Alma a 47-46 lead. Daniel Howard followed with a 3-pointer two minutes later to make it 50-46. 

 

“I’ve been challenging Stewart to make that pass and make the right read, and he did,” Lincoln said. “I challenged Daniel to keep taking those shots without any fear and he did. We took a big step in that area today.”

 

Taylor finished with a team-high 11 points, including two key free throws following a technical foul against the Yellowjackets for hanging on the rim after a missed slam dunk. 

 

Matthew Schlegel went for 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists. George had a team-high four assists, and McAlister added nine points and six boards in just under 15 minutes of playing time. 

 

Branson Brogan scored four big points in six minutes of playing time.