The Nokomis boys basketball team improved to 5-4 on the season on Saturday, Dec. 18, with a 60-45 victory over a tough Auburn team. While the Redskins led by double digits for most of the second half, the game maintained an edge-of-your-seat energy throughout.
The core of the Nokomis’ final advantage came in the first half as they outscored the Trojans 16-7 in the first and 17-8 in the second to take a 33-15 halftime lead.
The Redskins’ quick hands and defensive anticipation resulted in several turnovers in the first quarter for the Trojans. Offensively, Nokomis took what Auburn gave them. Cooper Bertolino and Elijah Aumann both hit threes, but the pick and roll was also working for the Skins, particularly with Jake Johnson, who had six points in the quarter.
Johnson’s last four capped off a 9-0 run by the Redskins that turned a 7-7 tie into a 16-7 advantage after one.
Auburn scored first on a jumper by Spencer Rikas, who had scored seven of his team’s nine points at that point. Bertolino answered though, hitting back-to-back threes to start a nine-point run by the Redskins that upped the lead to 25-9 with 4:25 to go in the first half.
Auburn would get as close as 12 in the final four minutes, but Nokomis answered every time and led 33-15 at the break after a steal and score by Aumann in the final 10 seconds.
The Trojans would come out of the locker room with a renewed intensity, which paid off on the offensive end as they scored twice as many points in the second half (30) than they did in the first (15).
Nokomis would score slightly less, but still used what worked to keep the Trojans at an arm’s length. Auburn gained five points in the third quarter, but Nokomis still led 41-28 with eight minutes to play.
The two teams would trade points in the first three minutes, with Nokomis still up by 14 with 4:51 to play. A three by Rikas and a two from Jackson Kern brought the Trojans within single digits for the first time since early in the second quarter, but that lasted all of 20 seconds before back-to-back baskets by Johnson and Aumann boosted the lead back to 14.
Aumann, who was held scoreless in third quarter after a nine-point first half, upped his game in the fourth quarter. In the final four minutes of the game, Aumann scored seven points, which helped keep the Trojans at bay.
The junior guard would finish the game with 18 points for his eighth game in double digits in nine attempts. Aumann also had four assists and four steals in the win.
Ryan Eisenbarth added a season-best 13 points to go along with nine rebounds, while Jake Johnson was 6-for-6 from the field for the second straight game for 12 points. Cooper Bertolino also hit double digits with 11 points, while Reece Lohman rounded out the scoring with six.
The win over Auburn came on the heels of a decisive 76-24 win over Mt. Olive on Friday, Dec. 17, in which the Redskins matched the Wildcats’ point total for the game in two of the four quarters.
One of those quarters was the first, where Nokomis jumped out to a 24-2 lead. The Redskins held the Wildcats to two points and no field goals, with Jacob Mellentin hitting a pair of free-throws for Mt. Olive.
Nokomis scored inside and outside, with Elijah Aumann leading the way with 12, followed by Ryan Eisenbarth with six.
Mt. Olive found their stroke in the second quarter, with Trent Markezich scoring nine of the Wildcats’ 12 points, but Nokomis answered with 21 of their own, led by Aumann with six and Cooper Bertolino with five.
Up 45-14 at halftime, Nokomis picked up its third straight 20-plus point quarter of the game with a 24-9 advantage in the third quarter. Jake Johnson exploded for 11 points in the third quarter, hitting all five shots he made from the field, plus one of two free throws.
With the clock running due to the mercy rule, Nokomis added on seven more points in the fourth quarter and got their record back to .500 with the win at 4-4 on the season.
Aumann would finish with 20 for his fifth game of 20 points or more. The junior guard is averaging 18.7 points per game nine games into the season. Four other Nokomis players also scored in double figures, including Cooper Bertolino, who had five assists to go with 14 points. Jake Johnson finished with 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field, while Reece Lohman had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Ryan Eisenbarth nearly joined him, posting 10 points and eight rebounds in the win. Ian Keller (6), Kamron Coss (2) and Mason Stauder (1) rounded out the scoring for Nokomis.
Nokomis will have one more game to play before Christmas as they take on Litchfield on Wednesday, Dec. 22, on the Purple Panthers’ home court.
December 17 at Nokomis
Mt. Olive 2 12 9 1 24
Nokomis 24 21 24 7 76
Mt. Olive (24) - Trent Markezich 14, Blake Schehl 6, Jacob Mellentin 4. Totals: 7 8-13 24.
Nokomis (76) - Elijah Aumann 20, Cooper Bertolino 14, Jake Johnson 13, Ryan Eisenbarth 10, Reece Lohman 10, Ian Keller 6, Kamron Coss 2, Mason Stauder 1. Totals: 34 5-7 76.
Three-point field goals: Mt. Olive 2 (Markezich 2); Nokomis 3 (Bertolino 2, Aumann 1).
December 18 at Nokomis
Auburn 7 8 13 17 45
Nokomis 16 17 8 9 60
Auburn (45) - Spencer Rikas 19, Grant Dobson 8, Kellen Davis 8, Jackson Kern 5, Carter Hunley 3, Sawyer Smith 2. Totals: 15 11-16 45.
Nokomis (60) - Elijah Aumann 18, Ryan Eisenbarth 13, Jake Johnson 12, Cooper Bertolino 11, Reece Lohman 6. Totals: 22 12-16 60.
Three-point field goals: Auburn 4 (Rikas 3, Hunley 1); Nokomis 4 (Bertolino 3, Aumann 1).
Record: Nokomis (5-4), Auburn (3-2).
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