Cobden rallies to "knock" off Yellow Jackets
Big 15-2 run puts Appleknockers in championship game

CHESTER - It's been a long time since the Cobden Appleknockers played for a boy's varsity basketball tournament championship.

It was in 2005 at the Class A regional title game at Herrin back in the two-class system of Illinois.

The Appleknockers lost to, then, South Egyptian Conference rival Goreville in the championship game.

Although that is a lengthy dry spell, the end of that streak has a due date.

January 13, 2018.

The Appleknockers have a scheduled game against top-seed Jackson (MO.) Saxony Lutheran on this particular Saturday night for the title of the 56th annual Chester Invitational Tournament.

It came about as a result of Cobden's come-from-behind 62-54 semifinal win Thursday night against the host Yellow Jackets.

Cobden used a 9-0 run in the early part of the fourth quarter as they survived their own mistakes to pick up the important victory for this program.

The Appleknockers had a lot of trouble handling the ball, especially against the Chester full-court pressure.

But when they got the ball in the half court and when they managed to beat the press, Cobden did quite well in the second half.

The turnover total was 25 for Coach Rhett Barke's club but the Cobden club also made 26-of-46 shots from the floor (56.5 percent) to offset the errors on offense on its way to the win.

Cobden hit 8-of-9 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

Leading the way for Cobden offensively was two young forwards who helped the Appleknockers take command in the paint.

Six-foot-five sophomore Joe Brumleve and 6-foot-4 freshman Noah Franklin.

The pair netted 16-points each, with 12 of those points (eight for Brumleve, four from Franklin) coming in the fourth quarter.

Two other Cobden players, sophomore Dylan Lewey and senior guard John Russell, added 13 and 12-points in the triumph.

Coach Brad Norman's team, despite its own troubles, was leading 42-39 with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.

Nevertheless, Cobden closed out the quarter by scoring six consecutive points to take a 45-42 lead.

This run turned into a 15-2 game changer, which sent the Appleknockers into the finale.

“I told the guys 'look we are down one, let's come out and score the first points and not look back' and that is what we did,” said Coach Barke about his team's late run to give them the win. “The kids are responding and it (win) is great for the program. The kids played hard tonight. They listened and they executed.”

Lewey and Franklin scored important baskets to close the third and then Cobden began making the plays against the Yellow Jackets' press in the fourth quarter.

Three of the scores were on shots near the basket after getting through the Chester pressure.

Junior guard Zane Nance scored seven-points for the Appleknockers and none were more important than the two key shots in the run.

He grabbed a deflected pass against the press and raced to the bucket for a score to give Cobden a 47-42 lead.

His 3-point bomb from the left wing followed a pair of great plays by Cobden on offense.

Both Franklin and Brumleve scored points on nice assists by both Lewey and sophomore Landon Britt.

Franklin got two of the lay ins to fall after making a nice fake in the lane to get open.

His basket closed the run as Cobden led a shocked Yellow Jackets' squad 56-44 with 3:13 left.

Chester never recovered and never got closer than eight-points the remainder of the contest.

In the first 12-possessions in the final quarter, Chester got only one basket; a score on a steal by senior guard Josh Haberberger.

The other 11 trips resulted in eight missed shots and three turnovers.

Haberberger and his brother Jake netted 12 and 11-points for the Yellow Jackets while 6-foot-4 junior Keith Kiner III also added 12.

Chester, however, wasn't very good on offense on this night and the defense faltered in the fourth quarter.

Cobden should get the credit defensively for a lot of the Yellow Jackets' problems offensively.

“We talked to the kids about defensive intensity and it has increased since Christmas. It's one of the things that we have worked on. We've had some games when we weren't so good and offensively we are starting to do a better job sharing the ball,” said Coach Barke. “We have some guys coming off of the bench that are making some plays for us, too.”

Although they were a respectable 19-of-43 from inside the arc, they were just 1-of-17 from the 3-point line (20-of-60 overall) as they struggled the whole night shooting the ball.

They missed their final nine 3-point attempts in the game.

“Tonight it came down to us not being able to put it in the rim,” said Coach Norman. “Cobden was tougher tonight than we were. It seemed like they got to the 50/50 loose balls that there were and they probably out-rebounded us in the second half.”

Coach Norman did see his team attack the offensive glass as they pulled down 16 of their own missed shots.

Cobden held a 32-30 rebounding edge, including a total of 19 defensive rebounds in the second half.

Chester's Ian Reith, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, added 10-points for the cause with eight of those points coming in the first half.

He scored a pair of baskets in a first quarter run as he matched Kiner's two scores for an 8-2 lead with just under three minutes gone in the game.

But Cobden never let the hosts get too far out of sight, as they answered each push.

Scores by Franklin, Lewey and Russell were part of a 7-0 run for a short lived 9-8 lead.

Jake Haberberger scored on a drive in the lane to close the frame at 10-9 Yellow Jackets.

An evenly played second quarter, with both teams scoring 18-points, made it 28-27 Chester at intermission.

Josh Haberberger netted seven of the points for Chester, including the only made 3-pointer for the club in the whole contest.

Russell and Lewey each scored five-points in the quarter while Brumleve added four.

In spite of giving up eight first half offensive rebounds and coughing up 11-turnovers, the Appleknockers were down just a point at the break.

Cobden's Franklin and Russell nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second half for a 33-28 lead.

It was the largest lead of the quarter for either teams as both squads traded blows.

Chester finally got back the advantage with a big defensive play by Kiner as he made a key block and got the ball to Josh Haberberger for a fast break score which turned into a three-point play.

Kiner also scored on a lay in moments later after an Appleknockers' turnover.

A free throw by Reith and two free throws by Jake Haberberger gave the Yellow Jackets their final lead before Cobden flipped the switch and the score to close out the third and begin the fourth.

After the loss, Chester will now play Valmeyer in the third place game on Saturday.

The Pirates lost to Saxony Lutheran in the other semifinal game on Wednesday night, 50-42.

“We are usually pretty down there (in the paint around the basket) and Reith did what he could but he didn't get a lot of help tonight,” said Coach Norman. “We also missed a lot of easy shots, a lot of open 3's. Right now we are just not very good. Tip your hat to Cobden. They played hard enough to win. We have to figure out a way to regroup.”

Cobden has played a pretty tough schedule and stand at 11-9 heading into the match up on Saturday.

Of the nine losses, seven of the teams are ranked in the ABV Top 10 in both 1A and 2A.

The Crusaders and the Appleknockers have one common opponent heading into the title tilt on Saturday.

Mounds Meridian lost to Saxony Lutheran at the Carbondale Holiday Tournament quarterfinals, 57-54, while Cobden lost to the Bobcats, 65-59 back on December 8.

Saxony went on to finish fourth at Carbondale.

A decision by the Marissa school superintendent to forfeit the contest was made in the afternoon with the potential weather hazard being the reasoning.

So Valle Catholic will now play Perryville (MO.) in the consolation championship game on Saturday while Marissa-Coulterville will now play New Athens on Saturday in the seventh place game.

Cobden (62) – Franklin 6 1 1-2 16, Nance 2 1 0-2 7, Allen 0 0 0-0 0, Lewey 5 0 3-6 13, Russell 2 2 0-0 10, Britt 0 0 0-0 0, Eck 0 0 0-0 0, Flamm 0 0 0-0 0, Brumleve 7 0 2-3 16.
2FG-22, 3FG-4, FT-6-13, PF-18.

Chester (54) – Ja. Haberberger 3 0 5-6 11, Herrell 0 0 0-0 0, Jo. Haberberger 4 1 1-1 12, Cushman 0 0 0-0 0, Bollman 0 0 1-4 1, Heffernan 1 0 1-1 3, Reith 4 0 2-3 10, Wingerter 1 0 3-4 5, Kiner III 6 0 0-1 12.
2FG-19, 3FG-1, FT-13-20, PF-17.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.