BURRTON — Macksville High School’s head boys’ basketball coach Jeff Kuckelman was fine when LaCrosse trapped and double teamed scoring-leader Tanner Tranbarger.
The Mustangs beat the double teams and traps with quick ball movement that led to easy baskets in Macksville’s 64-51 semifinal victory on Thursday in the Burrton Class 1A Division-I basketball sub-state.
Macksville beat Central Prairie League member LaCrosse three times this season.
“LaCrosse trapped and double teamed Tanner a lot more this time,” Kuckelman said. “But the key was how well we attacked their pressure.
“We beat the double team and attacked inside on offense.”
When Tranbarger wasn’t double teamed, that worked out just fine too.
He knocked down 11 of 15 field goals and scored 33 points. At one point, Tranbarger made seven consecutive field goals. He mixed a trio of 3-pointers with pull-up jumpers and drives to the basket.
He scored 30 points against LaCrosse in the regular-season finale.
“Tanner has been playing on a pretty good roll,” Kuckelman said. “Tanner has a good first step and he’s a good ballhandler. He’s been playing really well late in the season.”
LaCrosse head coach Rob Holopirek said the Leopards made Tranbarger work for his points.
“Tanner made some tough, guarded shots,” Holopirek said. “At times, we played pretty good defense. He is really a difficult player to defend.”
Macksville qualifies for Saturday’s sub-state championship game against Central Prairie League foe Victoria. Macksville beat Victoria 67-62 on Jan. 31 as Tranbarger scored 29 points.
The winner qualifies for the 1A D-I state championship at Emporia.
LaCrosse’s Taylor Yohe teamed with Lucas Moeder for a third-quarter run that sliced a 10-point lead to 32-29. But Tranbarger scored nine points in the next few minutes starting with a 3-pointer. Kaden Herman and Simon Miller added baskets in Macksville’s 13-4 run for a 45-33 lead.
When LaCrosse pressured late in the game, the Mustangs kept attacking and made free throws down the stretch.
“We like to keep going after points rather than hold onto the basketball,” Kuckelman said.
Macksville (14-7) last qualified for the state tournament in 2011 when the Mustangs won the 1A D-I state championship.
The Mustangs lost to 1A D-I state champion St. John last year and were eliminated by South Central two years ago.
The Mustangs own wins over 2A state-ranked Meade and 1A state-ranked Fowler.
Kuckelman experimented with a zone defense the last time the Mustangs beat LaCrosse, 66-59, and liked what he saw. The Mustangs’ zone defense limited LaCrosse to one 3-pointer.
The Mustangs typically play man-to- man defense. The strategy worked when LaCrosse made 20 of 54 field goals, only one from outside the 3-point stripe.
“We played a little zone last time and it seemed to work, so we tried it again,” Kuckelman said. “I don’t like to play that much zone defense, but it was working well. We stuck with it until the very end.”
Holopirek said the Leopards needed to make more outside shots to win the ballgame.
“They were packing their defense in and giving us that outside shot,” Holopirek said. “It was a night when we didn’t make outside shots.
“Macksville has a really nice basketball team that beat us three times this season.”
Macksville’s Miller dominated the boards with 15 rebounds to go with 10 points. Jordan Welch scored 13 points. The Mustangs made 24 of 48 field goals and outscored the Leopards 12-3 from 3-point range.
Point guard Alan Ibarra had three assists.
LaCrosse (13-9) was paced by Yohe with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Moeder scored 12 points and Jacob Reifschneider added 10 points.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Class 1A D-I sub-state tournament
Macksville 64, LaCrosse 51
Tanner Tranbarger 11-15 8-10 33, Alan Ibarra 0-4 0-0 0, Kaden Herman 3-5 0-2 6, Jordan Welch 5-13 2-3 13, Simon Miller 4-8 2-2 10, Henry Penner 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-48 12-17 64.
Jack Garcia 0-5 0-0 0, Lucas Moeder 6-11 0-0 12, Marshall Jay 2-5 2-2 6, Taylor Yohe 8-12 0-0 16, Jacob Reifschneider 1-9 7-9 10, Chance Sherman 3-7 1-5 7, Chase Klozenbucher 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Jay 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 20-54 10-16 51.
Macksville 12 13 16 23 — 64
LaCrosse 9 10 14 18 — 51
Three-point goals—Macksville 4 (Tranbarger 3, Welch 1); LaCrosse 1 (Reifschneider 1). Rebounds—Macksville 28 (Miller 15), LaCrosse 31 (Yohe 8). Assists—Macksville 9 (Ibarra 3); LaCrosse 9 (Moeder 4). Fouls—Macksville 13, LaCrosse 22. Turnovers—Macksville 8, LaCrosse 9.