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Monday, August 31, 2015

Sterling win for surging Spartans

Shane Hart scoring against Windsor in January

Boys basketball upends top-ranked Sterling, targets state tourney berth

Coming off the biggest win in the Pete Scheck era, the Berthoud High School boys basketball team has plenty left to accomplish.

“We’d like to have a home game in the first round of the league tourney and hopefully get ourselves into the state tournament, which we’ve missed the last few years,” third-year coach Scheck said.

Just 1-22 in Scheck’s inaugural campaign of 2007-08, the Spartans regrouped for a 9-14 record last season, just missing out on a state berth. Berthoud is on target heading down the stretch this season, with a 5-1 record in its past six games, including a monumental upset Saturday at home against previously unbeaten Sterling.

Sophomore Greg Hutchins nailed a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining to give Berthoud a stunning 61-58 overtime win against a Sterling team ranked first or second in most Class 4A hoop polls. Hutchins drained five 3-pointers in the game, while Berthoud senior Marcus Mathiesen played clamp-down defense on Sterling go-to man Xavier Talton.

“Greg hitting five 3’s, I don’t think anybody expected that,” Scheck said. “And Marcus did a great job on Xavier Talton, making him earn his points. Xavier got 16 points, and only a few of them were going to the basket. They had five guys shooting 40 percent or better from the 3, so we talked about how we couldn’t leave their shooters open, and Marcus was going to have to do a solid job on Xavier for us to have a chance.”

Senior Joel Maly, Berthoud’s big threat at 6-foot-3, chipped in his typical stalwart effort — 19 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Shane Hart scored eight of his 19 points in the final quarter. Mathiesen added six points and Zach Ruebesam two points for the Spartans.

“I liked the fact that we played pretty well and didn’t have to depend on [Sterling] having a horrible game,” Scheck said. “We got scoring from a lot of different guys. I’m hoping this win is a little bit of a springboard to get us going.”

Tuesday night’s 71-56 win against Thompson Valley boosted Berthoud to a 9-7 overall mark and 7-6 Northern League record. The Spartans are eighth in the 17-team Northern League.

“I’m hoping we’re starting to peak,” Scheck said. “We started out OK, then stumbled out of Christmas break against Mountain View. We lost Shane Hart for three games with a sprained ankle and lost one player who was ineligible. We lost four games in a row at one point, but now Shane’s back and healthy, and Greg Hutchins has done a great job stepping in for [6-3 senior] Graham [Shaw], who we lost. … We’re winning more convincingly lately, and shooting the ball a lot better. When we shoot well, the other teams just can’t pack it in on Joel as much.”

Tuesday, Berthoud scored 34 fourth-quarter points to fend off pesky Thompson Valley, with Maly pouring in 28 points to lead the way and Caleb Carlson adding 10 points, five rebounds and four steals in a stellar performance.

Entering the Tuesday game, Maly led Berthoud with 20.6 points per game, and his 12 blocked shots and nine steals were also team highs.

“When we lost Graham, our other big kid, we were afraid teams would really key on Joel,” Scheck said. “But he’s stepped up his game, not only on the court but in leadership. He’s our only big kid right now and he’s still able to average around 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. No matter who we play, he comes up with those numbers every night.”

Hart is second on the team with 14.9 points per game.

“Shane has come such a long ways,” the coach said. “The last couple of years he didn’t have a real significant role, but this year he’s completed himself as a player. He’s able to use his dribble to get to the basket, he’s aggressive around the rim rebounding, and his defense has come a long ways. He’s made himself into a very good player and he’s helped us out in all areas.”

Hutchins is averaging 7.2 points per contest and has a team-leading 15 3-points.

“I knew he could be, but I didn’t know if it would happen this quickly,” Scheck said of the sophomore’s emergence as an outside shooting threat. “I didn’t expect this kind of role for him this early on. But he’s the type of kid who works hard every day, and it seems like he’s prepared. He’s making the most out of his opportunity.”

Berthoud hosts Longmont Friday (7 p.m. tipoff) before closing out the regular season Saturday at Niwot and next Tuesday at Northridge.

Scheck is stressing continued improvement in shooting and team defense.

“We want to keep getting better defensively,” Scheck said, “running both the man and zone defense effectively.”

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