LEXINGTON – a friendly night of basketball was scheduled between neighboring communities on Thursday, Jan. 23 when the Cozad Haymakers dropped in to play some games with the Lexington Squads. The Minutemaids took a heartbreaking loss after a tight game that ended in one overtime period, 32-34; the Minutemen claimed the win over the Haymaker boys, 65-24.
The Minutemaids led by a razor’s edge at the end of the first quarter, 7-6, and struggled to find the bottom of the net in the second eight minutes of the game scoring just two points in the second quarter. Cozad, however, had remained consistent in the remainder of the first half and drove seven more points home before the break. The lady ‘Makers held a small, four point lead through halftime as Lexington trailed, 9-13.
The Minutemaids outscored Cozad in the second half, putting six points on the scoreboard in the third over the ‘Makers’ four and another 16 points over Cozad’s 14, bringing the game to a tie in the final moments of regulation time. The Haymaker girls made a quick last effort to grab the lead with a buzzer-beater, but the shot fell short. The teams matched as the clock ran, tied at 31 points.
Maddi Sutton scored a point for Lexington on a free throw in overtime, but Makenzie Lee stuck a three pointer to give the lady Haymakers the edge. The Minutemaids fell to the lady Haymakers after the extra four minutes, 32-34.
“This is a tough loss to digest,” said Lexington head coach Robb Koerting in an email. “I take nothing away from Cozad as they did what they needed to do to win, but I don’t think we played the level of basketball we’re capable of.”
Coach Koerting, despite the loss, felt the girls excelled on the defensive end of the court against Cozad.
“I’m proud of the defensive effort we showed throughout,” he explained. “Especially late in the 4th quarter, coming back from being down eight points to tie the game took a lot of hard work.”
“My girls just battle,” Cozad head coach Zach Stauffer said after the win. “They make every team work for what they get and that’s kind of our M.O. right now. We want to make everything as difficult as possible against every team we play. To give Lexington credit, they battled back and they didn’t just give it to us.”
Meeting Lexington was going to be a tough game for the Haymakers, this year, no matter how you cut it. Minutemen basketball fans have been looking forward to this season for some time, as the team on the court is experienced and unified. The 2019-20 Minutemen are a tough match for many schools, let alone a young team like the Haymakers.
The Minutemen put a large lead on the ‘Makers, early in the game, and extended it each quarter for a 65-24 win over Cozad.
“We’re a young team battling some sickness,” Coach Danielson said of the loss to Lexington. “We’re a young team that is going to get better playing a veteran team who knows what they’re doing. I still Love my kids, still love the team and I still think we’re going to do great things this year.”
In his interview, Lexington head coach Zach Jones echoed Coach Danielson.
“They’re a young team and I think they fought hard,” Jones began by saying after the game. “There’s going to be much better days for them, coming up. They’re very well coached. We have an experienced group of kids and some of the best athletes we’ve had in a long time.”
Cozad and Lexington will get back to work in their conference tournaments, starting on Monday, Jan. 27.