Spartans edge Northridge 59-57
By Dan Karpiel
The Berthoud Spartan boys basketball earned their first victory of the young 2010-11 season in thrilling fashion on Friday night in the Berthoud High gym. The Spartans rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to top the Northridge Grizzlies 59-57. The win improves the Spartans to 1-4 on the season and 1-1 in the Spartan Basketball Invite with the rubber match Saturday night versus Thompson Valley.
The Spartans came out with plenty of energy to begin the game but committed some costly turnovers and allowed the Grizzlies to get out to 13-9 lead after one period of play. By halftime, Northridge had a 28-22 lead. The Grizzlies were able to capitalize on 12 Berthoud turnovers in the first half. Berthoud Head Coach Pete Scheck implored his team to focus on the basics and to quit hurting themselves. “We just need to do the easy things like complete the easy pass rather than turning it over trying a difficult pass. And if we do that we will put ourselves in a much better position to win,” Scheck after the game.
Coach Scheck’s message got through to his team as Berthoud’s play was much improved in the second half. “Yeah we got yelled at pretty good,” junior forward Greg Hutchins said with a chuckle when asked about Scheck’s halftime message. Hutchins’ fellow junior and team point guard Zach Ruebesam took over the game in the third period, nailing three consecutive three-point baskets. Thanks to Ruebesam’s clutch shooting and sturdy defense, the Spartans took their first lead of the game at the 2:50 mark in the third period. “I knew if I could get one (three pointer) I could get rolling and just take what they give me,” Ruebesam said of his play in the second half. Senior center Cameron Botts, who was celebrating his 18th birthday on the night, and junior forward Mic Nienaber each contributed four points in the third period as Berthoud out-scored Northridge 19-15
The Spartans fell behind by a 44-47 score with 5:25 remaining in the game when Ruebesam would nail another much-needed bucket from behind the arc. The three-pointer began a 10-2 Spartan scoring run where they took the lead for good. Hutchins, who had quiet in the first three periods of the game, hit back-to-back threes in the fourth period. “Coach Justice told me I need to set my feet before I shoot so I started setting me feet and knocked them both down,” Hutchins said of his critical late-game baskets.
Northridge sophomore Aaron Sanders scored 11 points in the fourth period but the Spartans were able to withstand the Grizzlies rally late thanks to Hutchins’ threes and clutch free-throw shooting from both Ruebesam and Nienaber. Nienaber sank both of his free throws at just under the 1:00 mark while Ruebesam was 3/4 on his two trips to the line with under 0:30 remaining in the contest. The Spartans held on for the 59-57 victory.
Ruebesam lead the Spartans with 17 points, eight defensive rebounds and three steals. He is Berthoud’s most vocal leader on the floor; when asked about his leadership role Ruebesam said, “It really just comes naturally, it’s just that will to win and to make your teammates better. If they know you’re in control then they will be in control so that’s what I really try to focus on.” Hutchins contributed 10 points and led the team with three assists. Both Botts and Nienaber accounted for 11 points.
Berthoud will play their third and final game of the Spartan Basketball Invite against Thompson Valley at 5:00 pm Saturday night at Berthoud High.