Nokomis’ success over the last 40 years hasn’t come from lamenting losses. Whether it be graduation, injuries or illness, the Redskins have adapted a plug-and-play system where players are expected to answer the call if the need arises.
Friday’s game against Lincolnwood was one of those instances as the Redskins overcame the loss of five members of their varsity roster to beat the Lancers in overtime 38-36.
One of those to step up was sophomore Nolan Himes, whose drive to the hoop with a minute left resulted in a layup and a free throw after he was fouled on the play. The successful charity toss made it 32-32 and capped off a 12-2 run by the Redskins in the final four and a half minutes.
“Nolan Himes went from this morning thinking he was starting JV to starting varsity. We just told him ‘next man up’. We don’t do anything different from our freshman and JV level,” Nokomis Coach Dan DeWerff said. “He just had to play, but at a higher level. For his first varsity start, I think he played a heck of a ball game on both ends of the floor.”
The Redskins’ defensive effort from Himes and others was a big reason why Nokomis got back into the game according to DeWerff. Lincolnwood’s only two points came from free throws, one by Jhadyn Walker and one by Braden Whalen.
“We started pressuring a little more around the baseline and trying to force the issue. We tried to use our defense to get us some offense and that’s what got us back in the game,” Coach DeWerff said. “It was either stay back and get beat by 10 or 12 or put some pressure on them and try to make something happen. Luckily we were able to execute and got the job done.”
The comeback by the Redskins may have sapped some of the energy from both squads in the extra quarter, along with foul trouble on the Lancers end. Starter Cole Sidwell fouled out in the third quarter and the other five Lincolnwood players had four fouls each by the time the game ended, forcing the Lancers to be a little more cautious.
The game remained tied for the first two minutes, with Devin Brown giving Lincolnwood the lead with a pair of free throws.
The two point advantage would last for 25 seconds before Kendall Knodle drilled a three in front of the Redskin bench to put Nokomis ahead for good.
The Lancers would have a few more attempts in the final minute, but three free throws by senior Ben Clavin salted away the rivalry win.
Nokomis would be led in scoring by Seth Johnson, who had five of his 13 points in the Redskins’ comeback in the fourth.
Himes would add in nine, while Jake Johnson and Kendall Knodle added in seven and six. Ryan Eisenbarth also played, as did freshmen Kennedy DeWerff and Reece Lohman, who were brought up after the roster losses.
The Redskins’ comeback overshadowed Lincolnwood’s performance in the third quarter, when they held Nokomis to just three points and opened up a seven point lead at one point. Their success in the third transfered over to the start of the fourth quarter as they went on a 5-0 run to open up a ten point lead.
Lincolnwood’s success from three would be a big part of that run in the third as Will Jenkins hit two triples and Braxton Schmedeke added one. Schmedeke would lead Lincolnwood in scoring with 14 points, while Jenkins added nine.
Braden Whalen also scored seven points for Coach Matt Millburg’s club, while Devin Brown (three), Cole Sidwell (two) and Jhadyn Walker (one) also scored for Lincolnwood.
The Lancers did come away with the win in the junior varsity game, which was just as close as the varsity contest. The younger Lincolnwood squad held off Nokomis’ JV team 35-33 in the prequel to the varsity tilt.
Neither team had much time to recuperate after the barn burner as both had games the next day. The Lancers would knock off North Greene in Raymond in their Feb. 13 tilt, while Nokomis fell to a talented Calhoun squad on the Warriors’ home court.
February 12 at Nokomis
Lincolnwood 7 9 9 7 4 36
Nokomis 10 7 3 12 6 38
Lincolnwood (36) - Braxton Schmedeke 14, Will Jenkins 9, Braden Whalen 7, Devin Brown 3, Cole Sidwell 2, Jhadyn Walker 1. Totals: 9 12-18 36.
Nokomis (38) - Seth Johnson 13, Nolan Himes 9, Jake Johnson 7, Kendall Knodle 6, Ben Clavin 3. Totals: 11 13-19 38.
Three-point field goals: Lincolnwood 6 (Schmedeke 3, Jenkins 2, Whalen 1); Nokomis 3 (S. Johnson 2, Knodle 1.
Records: Lincolnwood (1-2); Nokomis (3-1).