‘Yutan Basketball’ till the final buzzer

Senior Drake Trent goes up for a shot in the paint versus Elmwood-Murdock. Trent was 69% from the free throw line this season. (Courtesy Photograph)

Playing a hard schedule all year and drawing the second seed in the sub-district bracket, the Yutan boys basketball team knew where they wanted to get: the district final. 

We felt pretty confident (going into the first round of subs). We knew that our schedule was far more difficult than anyone else we would play, and it prepared us for districts,” head coach Jesse Gardner said. “We felt like we were battle tested and used to playing in difficult games.”

Their confidence helped them to a first-round subdistrict victory over Archbishop Bergan 55-50 in overtime. 

“It was a very back-and-forth game,” senior post Drake Trent said. “No one knew who was going to win until the final buzzer.”

The team kept their confidence high going into their second-round game versus Elmwood-Murdock.

“I knew that we would win versus Elmwood-Murdock,” senior guard Nolan Timm said. “We had played a rough game earlier in the year against them and lost, so I knew that if we played our game, we would win.”

After defeating Elmwood-Murdock 39-37, the Chieftains qualified for the district final game versus Hartington Cedar Catholic, accomplishing one of their big season goals.

“One of our goals at the beginning of the season was to get to the district final and prove everyone wrong that doubted us of making it past the first round,” Trent said.

Senior Nolan Timm shoots a contested shot in the sub-district final game. Timm averaged 16.9 points per game. (Courtesy Photograph)

According to Timm, the boys went into the game with a “good mindset” and were ready to take on the Trojans.

“I knew we had to give our everything going into the district final,” Timm said. “We went into that last game knowing it would be an uphill battle all four quarters, and we couldn’t let up at all.”

The Chieftains battled the entire game, and the score was up and down for both teams all four quarters. Unfortunately, Yutan couldn’t come out strong in the end and lost 52-40.

“We knew Cedar Catholic would be a challenge for us,” Trent said. “It was a hard-fought game the entire time, but unfortunately we couldn’t pull through. I was proud of everyone’s effort and toughness for the 32 straight minutes.”

Although their season got cut short, Gardner had some overall thoughts on the final game. 

“It was really tough because we just didn’t want it to end.  It also had a bitter feeling because we felt like we could have beat Cedar Catholic,” Gardner said. “The boys did all of the right things to earn a trip to the state tournament, but we came up a few points short.  What made it the most difficult was knowing our time together with that team had ended…so it was difficult for the season to come to a close.”

Seniors Drake Trent and Nolan Timm run to the student section to sing Hail V after a victory. The Chieftains had a record of 14-11. (Haley Kube)

While ending the season just short of the state tournament, the seniors on the team loved having these teammates for their last high school basketball season. 

“I enjoyed playing with all my friends and building new relationships with friends I wouldn’t have if I didn’t play basketball,” Trent said. “It has taught me many lessons in life over the four years that I will be able to use in the near future.”

Timm agreed with Trent about having some of the best teammates, and he also had some extra thoughts on his basketball career.

“There really was nothing better than high school basketball,” Timm said. “I’m upset I didn’t take it as seriously early on, and I’ll regret that, but there will never be anything better than playing for this team.”

Even though the team will lose three seniors, Gardner knows they left an impact for future seasons. 

“We are looking forward to continuing to build on the culture and example that was set by our seniors,” Gardner said. “They really gave the underclassmen a great example of how to play ‘Yutan Basketball’ every day.”