For the first time in 35 years, the Haymakers cut the nets down and punched their ticket to the State Basketball Championships as a result of defeating SWC-foe Valentine 66-57 in the district finals that were played in front of a capacity crowd at Broken Bow on Monday evening.
Feeling the energy of the raucous crowd, the Cozad cagers stormed out of the gates and led 5-2 at the 4:44 mark of the first quarter. The sharpshooters from Valentine found the range in the final minutes of the stanza to grab a 12-8 lead at the end of the opening period.
Wasting no time in regaining the lead, Cozad connected on a pair of shots early that was just a glimpse of the 17-2 scoring run that was fueled by the trifecta on four straight trips for the Red and Black. The Haymakers flexed the net with gumption to explode for 26 points that included five treys in the period and hold a 12-point edge at the halftime break, 34-22.
Coming out of the break, Valentine was able to sway the momentum in their favor and dent the deficit to the tune of 37-36 at the 4:45 mark of the third quarter on their own scoring run. Cozad was up to the task and answered the bells toll when Jake Paulsen hit nothing but the bottom of the net on his third and fourth trifecta of the contest to power the Red and Black to regain a cushion on the scoreboard 42-36 at the 3:33 mark of the third quarter.
A Tysen Werner trey and driving layups along with charity stripe trips by Colin Wetovick and Conor Young resulted in the Hay makers surviving the storm and holding onto a lead of 49-40 with just eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Throughout the fourth period, the Cozad cagers would not be denied and worked their offense for quality scoring opportunities. Their efforts were rewarded with a 54-45 lead near the halfway mark that soon turned into a victory for the Red and Black as they held their lead during the waning minutes to notch the 66-57 win.
Cozad shot 39 percent overall in the contest, while sinking nine trifectas from beyond the arc.
Senior Jake Paulsen led the Haymakers with 18 points, two assists and two steals. Paulsen was dynamite from beyond the arc with four treys.
Conor Young contributed greatly for the Red and Black with 14 points, five caroms and five pilfered steals.
Showing his versatility to play in the paint and on the wing, Senior Nate Bubak was money in the bank for 11 points for Cozad.
Tysen Werner connected on a pair of trifectas to chip in for Cozad with nine total points scored in the contest.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Cozad 8 26 15 17 66
Valentine 12 10 18 17 57
Cozad: Jake Paulsen 18, Conor Young 14, Nate Bubak 11, Tysen Werner 9, Jacob Stallbaumer 6, Jason Finnegan 4, Colin Wetovick 4.