(New Buffalo, MI) - The Hickory Huskers from the movie "Hoosiers" were not on the basketball court. Still, a small school unexpectedly beat a larger team anyway, as the New Buffalo Bison took down the Sturgis Trojans.
In their December 7 season opener, the Class D New Buffalo Bison outscored Class A Sturgis 77-73 on the road. Head Coach Nate Tripp said good defense, accurate shooting, and determination were major keys to success in his team's fast-paced style of play.
“The boys were definitely celebrating afterward,” said Bison Head Coach Nate Tripp.
Tripp said the game against Sturgis was scheduled to help the defending District 4 champions with five returning starters getting used to stiffer competition for preparing to go deeper this year's postseason. The Bison lost in the first round of the regionals by four points last year to Howardsville Christian.
Tripp said he was hoping to have a chance at defeating Sturgis in the final period. However, Sturgis never had the lead and trailed the Bison by 12 points at the end of the third quarter. Tripp believes that the outcome showed New Buffalo should be mentioned as one of the state's toughest Class D basketball teams.
"We're tough. We are gritty, and we're not scared, but it also told us we got a long way to go. We got a lot of things we got to clean up," he said.
Kayden Parmley paved the way with 24 points for the Bison, while Jeremiah Mitchell added 14 points. Mark Shaw and Zack Forker contributed 12 points apiece. Forker also grabbed ten rebounds.
Tripp said the strategy on defense this year is to be more aggressive with players trapping ball handlers more often when there's an opportunity and during critical moments in games. Tripp, who has coached many of the players since middle school, said another goal this season is to achieve a high level of performance from the team on a more consistent basis.
“This is a team that has had their ups and their downs and their peaks and their valleys. We’re trying to mature and grow so we don’t have those dips,” he said.
Tripp cautioned his players should not overlook talented teams like River Valley and Countryside Academy that will also be competing for the District 4 tournament.
“While it was a nice victory, this team understands where we want to go,” Tripp said.
The Bison on December 10 defeated Covert on the road 94-40. Mitchell was the leading scorer for the Bison with 19 points. Anthony Lijewski, Forker, Mark Shaw, Ryan Vincent, and Parmley each scored anywhere from 10 to 14 points.