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Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

The Student News Site of Yutan High School

Chieftain Times

Boys basketball teams reflects on season, looks forward to next year

Every high school sports team sets goals. Unfortunately, they don’t always meet those goals, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of good can’t come from the season. This was the case for the Yutan High School boys basketball team, who fell just short of their year-long goal to make it to a district final but still made sure to fight until the end. 

“As a team, we set a goal to make a district final, and then, you know, just see how it goes from there,” senior Joey Benjamin said. “Sadly, we did not make a district final.”

The team faced many different challenges going into and throughout the season that affected the outcome. One of those challenges was due to losing two starting seniors from last year. 

“One of our challenges was on the offensive end,” head coach Jesse Gardner said. “Nolan Timm did a lot for us offensively the year before, so everyone had to improve offensively…We tried to focus on getting better every day.”

Sophomore Carson Jurey dribbles around his Cornerstone Christian opponent. The Chieftains beat Cornerstone 52-32. (Maycee Hays)

The team didn’t just face challenges offensively but also with their schedule. Their schedule was mostly composed of C-1 teams, whereas the boys’ team was placed in C-2. Many of the games the team played this year left them in a continuous dogfight as six of the teams they played made it to the state tournament in either class C-1 or B. 

“We played a harder schedule than a lot of teams in C-2, and that kind of affected the end of the year,” sophomore Carson Jurey said. “There was a lot of tough spots where we could have just gave up and just called it quits, but we kept fighting.”

Although the team was faced with a lot of hardships when it came to their schedule, they still saw the good in the position they were put in and the way they played against those teams, like DC West.

“We did end up losing, but we played [DC West] so close, closer than any other teams that had played them. We got in their heads and got a kid ejected. Even though it was a loss, it felt like a win for the team because of how well we played together,” Benjamin said. 

After a separate stretch of difficult games, the team had one last win before going into subdistricts, which Jurey saw as a great highlight of the season.

“At the end of the year, we came back from 16 down in the second half and came back and beat Logan View,” Jurey said. “Having that momentum going into subdistricts helped a lot, and I think we knew that we could be in any game as long as we kept getting after it.”

In subdistricts, Yutan won their first-round game against Cornerstone Christian 52-32 before moving on to the final against Mead, their known rival team. Because of the deeply-rooted rivalry between the two teams, it only added fuel to the fire of wanting to win as they went into the game. 

“[The Mead game] was a fun game. It was a great atmosphere, and we put up a great fight,” junior captain AJ Arensberg said. “But we lost in heartbreaking fashion.”

The game against Mead stayed close for the entirety, but with only a few seconds left, Mead won with two three-pointers, ending the game at a score of 37-31. Although it didn’t end the way they wanted, the team found the bright side of the last game.

“We played great, and it was a really close game,” Benjamin said. “We controlled everything we could control.”

Although there were both good and bad parts to the team’s last game, Benjamin felt that the season was enjoyable overall despite the team’s record. 

Junior AJ Arensberg puts up a shot against Fort Calhoun. Arensberg averaged 8.5 points per game this season. (Maycee Hays)

“It was fun, playing with friends,” Benjamin said. “I felt like we accomplished a lot in getting better. In the coming years, Yutan basketball is going to keep improving and getting better.”

As the seniors move forward, the rest of the team is left behind to continue on that legacy of Yutan basketball, and they are already looking forward to the next season with the same major goal: making a district final.

“I hope we can go further than we did this year. I think we have a good chance of making state because we have a lot of talent returning…I think our offense will be more high powered,” Jurey said.

With a mostly young team, many of the same members will see the court next year. Gardner thinks this can be used as an advantage. 

“I think our experience will start to pay off,” Gardner said. “I think they will continue to get more comfortable with what we do. The guys are hungry to get back to work and get back to the state tournament.”

While looking forward to the new season next year, the players hope to make it farther than they have in the past, and they know there are things needed to be accomplished in order to give them the chance to get there in the postseason.

“I think we just need to compete to the best of our ability and give everything we’ve got,” Arensberg said.

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About the Contributors
Libby Winn
Libby Winn, Junior writer
Libby is a junior and in her third year of journalism. She enjoys writing stories and editing photos. Outside journalism, Libby is involved in cheerleading, NHS and FBLA.
Maycee Hays
Maycee Hays, Senior writer
Maycee Hays is a senior in her fourth year of journalism.  She enjoys taking pictures at school events and writing feature stories.  Outside journalism, Maycee is involved in softball, cheer, powerlifting, club softball, speech, and NHS.
Kylie Krajicek
Kylie Krajicek, Sophomore writer
Kylie Krajicek is a sophomore and in her second year of journalism.  She enjoys taking pictures.  Outside journalism, Kylie is involved in volleyball, track and dance.
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