Turnovers doom Spartans against Thompson Valley

By Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

On paper, a 1-8 record does not look good. But for Berthoud High School head boys basketball coach, Mike Burkett, there are positives to be found. The Spartans have faced a brutal early-season schedule by design, to boost the team’s RPI, and have the players available to play the up-tempo style the Indiana native prefers.

“That’s my preferred style of play, I don’t think last year we had the personnel to do that, but we’re in a spot now where we have the personnel to run that style,” Burkett explained. “They can all play that way, they’re all great athletes, they can make the right decisions, now we just have to work on teaching them when to make those decisions. We can teach execution as we go through.”

Berthoud battled hard against a talented and experienced Thompson Valley squad on Tuesday night, but the visiting Eagles pulled away late, winning the game 62-48 final. The Spartans got to within one point, 40-41 with 2:19 left in the third quarter, but were only able to score eight more points in the final 10-plus minutes of the contest.

“Wiersema from Thompson Valley, we had kind of shut him down through three-and-a-half quarters, but he got hot and started making plays when he needed to,” Berthoud senior Karsten Bump explained after the game. “A lot of it was they hit a peak at the right time and we made some unforced errors.”

Bump scored on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, and junior Jake Yuska hit a big three-pointer to pull the Spartans to within one, but then Berthoud’s youth began to show. The Spartans committed nine turnovers in the fourth quarter, and 25 on the game, and the visiting Eagles took advantage, quickly pushing their lead to 50-42 less than a minute into the final frame.

“It’s just experience, the experience of being in those situations; these are new situations for these kids to be in. They’re playing teams that have been in those situations before and we haven’t. The more we get into them the better we will be,” Burkett said after the game. “When it’s 41-40 and you have the ball you have to find a way to score … we have to find somebody who’s going to step up and make a play at that point.”

A trey from Curtis Peacock and an and-one from senior Noah Purdy appeared to right Berthoud’s ship for a time as the Spartans clawed back to just a four point-deficit, 52-48, at the 4:40 mark in the fourth. Yet those were final points Berthoud was able to score, and the Eagles forced the Spartans into mistakes and rushed shots. Berthoud missed their final five field goal attempts of the game.

“We’re going to turn the ball over, we know that, but we want to push the pace and force (the other team) to make mistakes too,” Burkett said. “We’d rather make mistakes playing at that fast pace because it creates more opportunities for us.”

Bump, who has a spark-plug type of affect when he’s on the floor, explained, “The biggest things for us is the player mentality, everyone coming together with the team aspect, it’s not my name on the scoreboard or anyone’s name, it’s the Spartans, and we all know that.”

Burkett is adamant his team is learning quickly, pointing out the tough early season schedule will pay dividends when Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) play beings after the holidays. The coach explained the team will use their practice time to work on their tempo and shot selection, saying, “The tempo is going to be one, the shooting is going to be the other. And we need to find out which kids are going to step up and be the forces for us.”

Berthoud will begin their TVC schedule after Christmas break when they face off with the 4-3 Erie Tigers.