|Posted January 3, 2008|
Pack breaks eight-year drought with win over Kearney
KEARNEY, Neb. - The new year is a time of rebirth and new
beginnings. The ThunderWolves showed Thursday what can be done with
The Pack shrugged off every advance made by a tough Nebraska-Kearney team in a seesaw game, outlasting the Lopers in a 76-73 overtime win. It is the ThunderWolves' first victory over the Lopers since 2000.
The Pack started slow, falling early to the Lopers. After Kearney opened up a 10-3 lead to start the game, the Pack's explosion into the driver's seat came with two big threes off the bench by senior Julien Franklin, who led the ThunderWolves in scoring for the second consecutive game with 19 points, bringing the Pack to within two, 15-13, at the game's 13-minute mark. The Pack took the lead nearly for good when Franklin drained another three, giving the Pack a 20-17 lead.
"When we were down 10-3, I told the guys that our five-minute feeling out period was over. The game's on now," Pack coach Patrick Eberhart said. "From there, I thought we really responded. We played hard, disciplined basketball and every guy stepped up to do their part."
The Pack held that lead for much of the game, taking a 35-27 lead into halftime and leading for 19 of 20 minutes in the second half.
One of those moments that the Pack didn't lead in the second half was nearly a killer - RMAC's leading scorer, Drake Beranek, nailed a three as time expired to send the game into overtime tied at 64. Beranek had a game-high 24 points in the game.
Instead of cowering in the face of a comeback, the ThunderWolves showed impressive maturity, stepping up in the face of a valiant charge by the Lopers.
Kearney led by two halfway through the overtime period, 68-66, when a turning point occurred that helped the Pack to victory. Following a three-point play by Jake Trahern that put the Pack up 69-68, Beranek fouled out following a charge call.
As the Lopers' offense sputtered with Beranek's absence, the ThunderWolves kept the Lopers at bay long enough to drive the dagger through their chests. With 21 seconds remaining, junior Jordan Surratt buried a clutch three that put the Pack up 71-68 and changed the whole strategic approach of the Lopers for the rest of the game.
Overall, the Pack emerged from the game with a stellar shooting night, hitting 50.9 percent of their shots from the field as four players scored in double-figures. Trahern recorded his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Pack also upped the ante defensively, out-rebounding the Lopers 41-33 and registering eight steals. Much of the success, Eberhart said, was due to the power of their inside attack.
"One thing we're finally realizing is that we have a lot of success when the ball goes inside," Eberhart said. "That doesn't mean our inside guys will take all the shots, but it creates a lot of opportunities on the outside, and we get open looks."
"Plus, it helps that we guarded well. When we guard, we're pretty good."
The win lifts the monkey of the Pack's back in a number of ways. Not only did they finally beat Kearney for the first time since the Clinton Administration, but the Pack claimed its first conference win and are suddenly in the midst of a possible winning streak, winning their last two games.
While the Pack improved to 4-8, Kearney, a perennial contender, dropped to 4-8 in a frustrating start to their season.