The Elkhorn North student section on its feet as it cheers on the Wolves (Photo by Renee Vokt)
The Elkhorn North student section on its feet as it cheers on the Wolves

Photo by Renee Vokt

New Tradition, New Feud

The Elkhorn North and Elkhorn High boys basketball teams have now played twice in the Wolves' inaugural year

February 11, 2021

Some might say anything can happen in a rivalry game, especially in a brand new one. And last Tuesday’s game held up to these standards.

In its first year of play, the Elkhorn North boys basketball team has faced off against its mother school twice, and that would be the Elkhorn Antlers.

Elkhorn North’s Nathan Cunningham spots up for a three pointer (Photo by Renee Vokt)

Tuesday’s game was a clash between a brand new program with potential everywhere and a historic dynasty with years of tradition. And not only that, but it took place in a hostile environment, with students back and lively as ever. It was everything that anyone could hope for out of a rivalry game. And the Wolves almost had a victory in their hands.

The first quarter started out rough for the Wolves. The Antlers came shooting lights out from everywhere on the court and played lock down defense. The final score at the end of the first was 18-6 with an Antler lead. The Wolves only had two field goals: a Carson Ripley floater and a Luke Tillman layup. 

Hopes for victory were still bleak for Elkhorn North throughout the second quarter. It was no surprise at all that the Antlers dominated on the rebounds as they had the size advantage. Drew Christo and Dane Peterson were able to rebound with ease in the paint. Caden Reynolds for Elkhorn shot well from three and the Wolves continued to struggle shooting from everywhere. However, a three by Ryan Harrahill near the end of the half gave the Wolves some momentum going into halftime. The score was 32-17, Elkhorn leading. 

Luke Tillman runs down the court as he tries to defend Elkhorn’s Jack Buddecke (Photo by Renee Vokt)

Coming out of the locker room, Elkhorn North looked better. However, the Antlers did the same. Elkhorn extended their lead to 23 at one point, and the Wolves had almost no response. Then, in the last two minutes, the Wolves came to life. Elkhorn was held at 40 points for the last two minutes and the Wolves increased their defensive intensity in the paint. Jack Lusk and Paxon Piatkowski played solid defense against Elkhorn’s post players and began to get more rebounds. 

The 4th quarter kept rolling for Elkhorn North. The Antlers were rattled from Elkhorn North’s furious comeback. Elkhorn’s offensive attack had no answer and the Wolves came roaring back with a fresh, lively offense. The Wolves narrowed the score to 44-40 with about two minutes to go in the game with a big Carson Ripley three, and it was a dogfight between the two teams the rest of the way through. 

Unfortunately for Elkhorn North, the Antlers were able to do just enough to pull off the win at 47-44, in what was a tight battle all the way through the 4th quarter. However, the Wolves showed great promise and drastically improved from the first game against the Antlers less than a week before in which they lost 65-38.

“In game one, we were a bit taken back and felt like it was big brother vs. little brother which we warned against,” Elkhorn North coach Andy King said. “The second game started a little slow, but I felt like we competed a lot better. In the second half, I felt like we were the better team and we had a chance to win the game, but just fell a little short.”

Carson Ripley, who had a big three in the 4th quarter, had some things to say as well. 

Ripley drives in the lane while being guarded by a host of Antlers (Photo by Renee Vokt)

“Being much more competitive on defense got us back in the game in the second half,” he said.

And he’s right. Elkhorn North’s defense in the second half was a force in the paint and Elkhorn’s post players were silent for much of the 4th quarter.

Elkhorn North also had their first games in front of live student sections, and these students sections did not disappoint. 

“It was a really cool experience, and the nerves really get to you before the game,” freshman Cole Dryak said. “But it was a really good atmosphere playing in front of a bunch of fans.”

And it wasn’t hard to see the rivalry already building up between the two teams. A heated 4th quarter, two ecstatic student sections, and former teammates facing off paved the way for the foundation of the rivalry to begin.

“Obviously all the kids know each other pretty well having gone to school together, and it made it a lot of fun,” King said. “I think it’s a good rivalry and it will continue on to all sports.”

The Antlers may have won the first two, but the Wolves will be back for more.

“If and when that day comes, as long as we compete, we will have every chance to beat them,” King said.

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