MANLIUS – Three-point shooting has been a consistent hallmark of the Bureau Valley program.
However, on the Storm’s own stage Friday at the 2A Bureau Valley Sectional semifinal, Winnebago senior Kenzell Jones hit the 3s that mattered most.
Jones hits back-to-back 3s to start the game, and that set the tone to make Friday the season finale for the Storm in a 73-46 loss at the Storm Cellar.
Bureau Valley (27-5) had trouble shooting close shots against Winnebago big men Andrew Morrissey (6-foot-9) and Ty Waller (6-3).
Not too long after making his first 3 from the left elbow, Jones picked up a pair of rebounds on Storm misses – the final one went back to him at the top of the key, where he nailed his second 3 for a 6-0 lead.
Jones didn’t want to be denied a sectional title in yet another try.
“At the beginning of the game, I just knew that I didn’t want to go home.” Jones said. “We’ve been here 3 years in a row, and I know what it’s like on the other side. We had to come out hard, and that’s one of the things we didn’t do – and this year, we finally knew what we had to do because we had some experience.”
Bureau Valley missed 7 of 9 field goal tries in the first quarter, and made just one 3 – a second-quarter shot from Corbin Endress – in the first half. The Storm finished at 18-for-52 shooting, and made just 4 of 18 shots from the arc.
“A couple of 3s early from ‘Bago, and our mindset just went in the dumps,” Storm junior Kale Barnett said. “We just needed to stay positive because our shots weren’t falling. It was a little frustrating.”
Morrissey and Waller were a handful for the Storm. Waller, who led the Indians with 25 points, came away with a pair of steals in the first quarter – the second one he drove in for a bucket for the game’s first double-digit lead at 17-7. Morrissey almost had a double-double in the first half alone, scoring 10 points, pulling down nine rebounds, and swatting a pair of Storm shots.
Bureau Valley trailed 23-9 at the end of one quarter, and 38-20 at half.
“Sometimes you get beat by a better team.” Storm coach Jason Smith said. “I thought we threw everything at them, and the kitchen sink. We couldn’t hit any buckets, and that was our biggest downfall.”
Despite starting the third quarter on a 7-2 run, the Storm found out that Winnebago was simply too much. Waller scored 10 third-quarter points on five straight attempts to halt a potential Storm comeback.
Winnebago (28-2) finished just above 50 percent efficiency from the field, and will take on Chicago Corliss at the 2A NIU Supersectional on Tuesday.
“Bureau Valley is a great team, and they’re playing on their home court, and that’s a big advantage for them,” Waller said. “We had to come out ready physically, mentally, and we couldn’t fall behind like we had in previous games.”
Andrew Petros, one of five Storm seniors who played their final game, hit both a 2 and a 3 for the bulk of the Storm’s early 7-2 run to start the third quarter, and finished with a team-high 12 points and eight rebounds. Barnett finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, and Nate Paup also scored in double figures with 10 points.
“This one hurts,” Barnett said. “We had big goals for this year, and we accomplished all but one. We were regional champs, and wanted to keep going. We weren’t done, but we came up short.”
2A Bureau Valley Sectional
Winnebago 73, Bureau Valley 46
Star of the game: Ty Waller, Winnebago, 25 points, 11-of-21 shooting
Key performers: Andrew Morrissey, Winnebago, 12 points, 14 rebounds; Torry Williams, Winnebago, 17 points; Kale Barnett, BV, 11 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists; Andrew Petros, BV, 12 points, 8 rebounds