BARNEVELD – Not even a #1-ranked team could slow down the undefeated Darlington Redbirds boys’ basketball team.
The Redbirds, who are currently ranked #2 in Division 4, improved to 14-0 overall on the season by knocking off the previously unbeaten Barneveld Golden Eagles, 49-33, in a non-conference make-up game at BHS on Monday, Jan. 23.
“It was a good win against a very good team. Barneveld is so solid all around and they present a lot of challenges, but our kids really rose to the occasion,” said Darlington head coach Tom Uppena. “The scout team did an incredible job getting us ready, along with the assistant coaches. It was a true team win from top to bottom.”
The game was postponed from the original Nov. 28 date due to Darlington’s run to state football finals.
Barneveld (10-1) came into the night ranked #1 in D5, but were dealt their first loss of the season after being held 35 points below their season scoring average by the ‘Birds.
Darlington was also held to a season-low 49 points by the Eagles.
The lead see-sawed between the teams early in the game until five different Redbirds scored during a 10-0 run to open up a 14-5 advantage just six minutes into the game. The ‘Birds spent the rest of the night protecting their lead.
An 11-0 outburst later in the half– again with five different players scoring during the run– pushed their advantage to 31-13.
The ‘Birds held a 33-18 lead at the intermission and went ahead by as many as 20 early in the second half on a 3-pointer by senior Will Schwartz.
Neither team could get much going offensively for much of the second half, however a late surge by the Eagles brought them as close as 12 following a 3-pointer by Matthew Myers with 2:10 to play.
Darlington went 5-for-7 from the free throw line in the final two minutes of the game to put the Eagles away.
“Jumping out to an early lead really meant that we were able to dictate the game more so than Barneveld. The key was going to be holding the lead. In the second half, I feel like we stopped attacking at times and kind of went on a drought of our own, but our defense remained tough and held the lead for us. We need to do a better job of keeping the pedal down and finishing games,” added Uppena.
“I’m very proud of how our kids defended. It takes a lot of effort to hold a team like Barneveld to 33 points. Our rotations and help were as good as they have been all year and, because of that, we were able to draw a couple charge calls. We protected the rim well and forced them to take contested 3s.”
Schwartz finished with a game-high 14 points to lead the ‘Birds. Seniors Trevor Johnson and Josh Soper tallied nine points apiece, while seniors Ryan Glendenning and Hunter Johnson each chipped in with six points.
Kauy Fargo scored eight of his team-high 10 points in the opening half to guide the Eagles. Mike Zouski netted seven of his nine points in the second half, while Myers and Lucas Evans added five points apiece for the hosts.
At Cuba City, on Friday, Jan. 20, the Redbirds (7-0 SWAL) closed the game on a 29-13 scoring run to hold off the host Cubans, 63-46, to open the second half of the SWAL season.
Darlington routed the Cubans (3-8, 1-5) by a score of 69-20 in their season opener and they appeared well on their way to another run-away victory after building up a 29-17 halftime lead.
The Cubans trimmed the Redbirds’ lead down to four at 34-30 early in the second half, but the ‘Birds finished strong and rolled to a 17-point victory.
“Cuba City out-coached and out-played us that night. It was, however, one of those games that kind reminds you that we are going to get the best effort from every team we play, so we need to match or exceed that energy every night. I think that game helped to get us refocused a bit and realize we still have a lot of things to improve on,” commented Coach Uppena.
Trevor Johnson led all scorers with a game-high 14 points. Will Schwartz followed with 12 points, while Josh Soper added 10 and Ryan Glendenning scored nine for the ‘Birds.
Blake Robson tallied 10 points to lead the Cubans, who suffered their fifth loss in a row.
Darlington’s SWAL game against Riverdale on Tuesday, Jan. 17, was postponed due to icy weather conditions. The Redbirds will make up their date with the Chieftains at home on Tuesday, Jan. 31, as part of a boys/girls’ doubleheader. The Redbirds will tip-off against Riverdale at 6 p.m., and the Lady Redbirds will follow against the Chieftains starting around 7:30 p.m.
Darlington also has a SWAL game at Fennimore on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Darlington…………. 33 16 – 49
Barneveld…………. 18 15 – 33
Darlington – Hunter Johnson 4, Will Schwartz 14, Brayden McDonald 3, Ryan Glendenning 6, Josh Soper 9, Trevor Johnson 9, Stryker Fitzsimons 4. Totals – 18 11-16 49.
Barneveld– Myers 5, Fargo 10, Laube 3, L. Evans 5, Zouski 9, Slaney 1. Totals – 12 5-10 33.
3-point goals– D 2 (Schwartz 1, McDonald 1), B 4 (Myers 1, Fargo 1, Laube 1, Zouski 1). Total fouls– D 14, B 17. Fouled out– none.
Darlington……… 29 34 – 63
Cuba City………. 17 29 – 46
Darlington – Hunter Johnson 4, Will Schwartz 12, Brayden McDonald 6, Ryan Glendenning 9, Mason Stone 2. Josh Soper 10, Bailey McGuire 1, Trevor Johnson 14, Stryker Fitzsimons 4. Totals – 27 7-22 63.
Cuba City – Blake Robson 10, Brayden Holzemer 7, Jackson Noll 2, Ryan Hoppenjan 7, Nathan Timmerman 5, Jacob Wagner 8, Isaiah Oswald 4, Cole Kleiner 2, team 1. Totals – 17 7-16 46.
3-point goals– D 2 (McDonald 2), CC 5 (Robson 2, Timmerman 1, Oswald 1, na 1). Total fouls– D 20, CC 20. Fouled out– none.