SMITHVILLE — After starting the new year with two losses in nail biters, the Smithville boys basketball team ended its tough luck by running away with a 63-33 blowout over Winnetonka Friday, Jan. 8, at home.
Both teams struggled on offense in the opening minutes of 2-2 stalemate before Smithville made 10 3-pointers in route to a 36-point lead heading into the final minutes of the third quarter.
Sophomore guard Ryker Edwards scored a team-high 24 points in just 24 minutes on the court.
Senior forward Dante Cox added 12 points and six rebounds to go along with his stifling defense, helping the Warriors achieve a plus-28 advantage during his time on the court.
Smithville got help from many different spots in the lineup.
Junior forward Cody Simoncic scored 8 points while senior guard Nick Dakon delivered a personal-best five assists. Brad Schram and Derek Boyd scored 6 points, with the latter doing so in just seven minutes on the floor.
Junior Keltin Nitsche added 5 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal. Junior forward Rhett Foster rounded out the scoring with 2 points to go along with his four rebounds and two steals.
The Warriors dropped the two previous games in heartbreaking fashion.
Smithville thought it had won the LeBlond tournament as the team held a 75-74 lead over undefeated St. Michael with just 3.5 seconds to play. Guardians forward Deuce Roberts went the length of the court and drained a 2-pointer as time expired.
The Warriors were left shocked as they believed Roberts released the shot after the buzzer.
Indeed, Smithville head coach Eric Bennaka said that the referee reached out afterward to acknowledge that he made the wrong call and to apologize. Bennaka said he felt heartbroken for his players, but he respects the official owning the mistake.
“These refs are out here in a pandemic, risking their own health to help us play games this year,” Bennaka said in social media post after the game. “And it takes a pros-pro to call me after and apologize. It was a mistake and those guys want to get the call right more than anyone.
“He’s sick about it, but he’s a great guy, he’s a great ref and one that I’m always happy to see on the court with us. Just missed it tonight. Respect to them.”
The result overshadowed big performances for Smithville, including a 23-year-old school record getting broken.
Schram connected on seven 3-pointers to set the new mark for most made 3s in a game. Jayce Tingler, who is currently the manager of the San Diego Padres, originally set the record at six and had been tied by Ty Walters during the 2013-14 and twice by Tucker Sharpe last season.
Nitsche also had his best offensive game of the season as he earned his first double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds, leading the team in both categories.
The Warriors followed up with a 74-69 double-overtime loss again Raytown South before getting back in the win column against Winnetonka.
Smithville (7-4, 1-1 Suburban Blue) has already matched the team’s win total from last season. The Warriors also went on two three-game win streaks after the program had not accomplished that since the 2015-16 season.
Smithville will host conference foe Ruskin 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, at Smithville High School before heading to Grandview 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, at Grandview High School.