Trojan Ethan Leibold (33) fights a Rockford player for the offensive rebound early in Turkey Valley’s District 4 semifinal held last week.  (Photo by Becky Walz)
Trojan Ethan Leibold (33) fights a Rockford player for the offensive rebound early in Turkey Valley’s District 4 semifinal held last week. (Photo by Becky Walz)

There was a lid on the basket as the Turkey Valley boys’ basketball team struggled to put the ball through the hoop late in the fourth quarter of the Class 1A District 4 semifinal Tuesday, Feb. 19, falling to Rockford, 60-53.

“Coming into this game we knew they were going to shoot a lot of threes and that we were going to need to box out because there would be a lot of long rebounds. We didn’t do a good job of boxing out throughout the night and gave up too many second chance points and that was the difference,” said Coach Chris Sullivan.”

The Trojans end the year 18-5 overall. Rockford advanced to the district final against Janesville Thursday, falling 75-45.

Although Turkey Valley got out to an early lead, the Rockford Warriors responded with a firestorm, nailing down four treys and finishing the first quarter on a 10-0 run and claimed a 19-10 lead.

It was a positive start to the second quarter as the Trojans pulled to within three, 19-16 before Rockford found the basket. TV cut the lead to two with 1:47 remaining when the Warriors nailed five quick points. With 42 seconds remaining Trojan Garrett Kurtenbach’s trey cut the lead back to four to head to the locker room with Rockford leading, 30-26.

The third quarter was a teeter-totter of momentum as the teams exchanged treys early on. TV eventually evened the score, 37-37, with 3:22 left in the frame. A pair of Warrior baskets claimed a four-point advantage before Kalvin Langreck fired off a trey from the corner in a minute before the quarter break. Not to be outdone, Rockford answered with their own shot beyond the arc and reclaimed a four-point lead, with a quarter left to play.

Rockford opened the final quarter with a three-pointer to go on top, 47-40. Both squads struggled to connect on free baskets as the free-throw parade took place between the two squads. Neither the Trojans, nor the Warriors, found much success for nearly three minutes as the score remained in favor of Rockford, 49-44. Down the final stretch, the Warriors utilized free throws to extend their lead, while TV worked the ball around the floor, garnering several late shots, but fell short at the final buzzer.

“The refs seemed to eat their whistle throughout the night and that definitely benefited Rockford because we were attacking the rim more but once we got into the lane and created contact we weren’t getting the calls and getting to the free-throw line like we thought we should be. With that being said these kids played their hearts out and even though the scoreboard didn’t say we won they’re still winners.

“I told the three seniors, and the team as a whole, that they will be successful in anything they choose to do in life because they work hard, are unselfish and know how to be a great teammate. This group was something special because with the injury we had to Keegan Balk and the low numbers we had, I don’t think a lot of people thought we would be an 18-5 team and conference champs but that’s a testament to how hard these kids worked on a daily basis. I told the guys it’s easy for a team to play hard in front of an atmosphere like we had tonight, but our kids played that hard every day in practice and games since November. This next step in the process of Turkey Valley basketball is getting down to state and making some noise once we get there. The work to get to the Well starts today.”

Ethan Leibold led the Trojans with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Eli Reicks had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kalvin Langreck and Eli Nymeyer added eight points each with Nymeyer snagging seven rebounds and two steals. Jason Herold came up big with six points and eight rebounds.

The Trojans graduate Jason Herold, Simon Schmitt and Dalton Rush; however, they return Reicks, Leibold, Nymeyer, Kannon Leuenberger, Elliot Dietzenbach, Seth Huinker, Kade Kruse, Langreck and Garrett Kurtenbach. In addition, junior Keegan Balk should be able to return to the court after sitting this season with an injury.