Lincoln, Neb — Jacob Sjuts wasn’t interested in losing in the Class D-1 state championship game on Saturday morning.
His team down 40-32 to conference rival Howells-Dodge with just under five minutes left in the game, he took over, sparking a 10-2 run that finished regulation and then scored nine points in the extra session as the Bulldogs won their second title in three years 52-47.
The Bulldogs (23-5) were battling uphill in this rubber match. Howells-Dodge had a lead of 13 points in the third quarter, but HLHF kept battling and cut the lead to six by the end of the third.
Sjuts had 24 points and 20 rebounds in the title game, with brother Jason added 13 points and seven rebounds. Ethan Keller had 11 points.
Blake Sindelar finished with 18 points and 79 for the tournament for the Jaguars, which ended the season 20-9.
Just Like Dad
Self admittedly, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family coach Joe Hesse won’t ever quite be his dad, Rick. The hall of fame coach, who lead Clearwater to four straight Class D-2 titles from 1984-87.
But, now Joe has a couple and we can at least talk about it. Another thing we can talk about is the impact his dad had on him and his players.
“Probably, the best guy I ever knew,” Hesse said Saturday after the state final game. “You know, basketball in (Clearwater) was everything. You get to be around it, you get to see it.
“Growing up in the house with him, you got to see how much he cares. Some kids it’s just a game and that’s fine. Everybody has their thing and his thing was basketball. With dad it was always more than that.”
Hesse noted his dad’s impact — he passed away after a heart transplant in June 2014 — has lasted. He frequently receives texts from former Clearwater players during state tournament week.
“I got a text message from Kelly Prater the other day,” he said, “and he’s been here at our game. The Thiele’s will reach out as well. I got a nice letter from Ken Thiele in Aurora when we won two years ago.
“I have told my wife and a few people that I grew up hearing stories about Thiele’s and Kirkman’s and Bohling’s and my kids are going to grow up hearing stories about Sjuts’ and Frauendorfer’s and Keller’s.”
Class D-1 All-Tournament Team
Jacob Sjuts | Junior | Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
Blake Sindelar | Junior | Howells-Dodge
Jason Sjuts | Junior | Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
Ethan Keller | Junior | Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
Jack Heiss | Junior | North Platte St. Pat’s