HOOPESTON — With two starters measuring at 6-foot-5 or taller, and three others listed at at least 6-1 or more, the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils will likely have a size advantage against most teams this season. At the very least, they will be able to match up.
But they learned early in the Cornjerker Classic that size doesn’t always mean an automatic advantage. They proved that rebounding is often more about effort.
“That first game, our rebounding wasn’t very good,” said Bismarck-Henning 6-foot-8 center Wilde Garowski. “We kind of learned from that. The second game was a little better. Yesterday when we came out, we knew we couldn’t out-jump them (Donovan), so we just boxed out hard and stayed aggressive.”
The Blue Devils still got by with wins and showed improvement throughout the tournament. By Saturday’s finale against Hoopeston Area, Bismarck-Henning had got the message from coach Jon Clapp of the importance of boxing out. It resulted in a 60-41 win over the Cornjerkers to go undefeated and win this year’s Cornjerker Classic.
“The very first game of the tournament, we were absolutely horrible about boxing out and rebounding,” Clapp said. “I think over the four games, we made some significant strides and consciously made an effort to make sure we were boxing out on guys and holding them out and getting rebounds.”
The Blue Devils got past Leroy in their first game on Saturday in what ultimately helped decide the championship. Then, in the tournament’s finale, they out-rebounded the Cornjerkers 34-15 with Garowski leading the way.
By the end of the first half, Garowski had already grabbed nine of his game-high 14 rebounds, all of which were on the defensive glass.
Hoopeston Area tried everything it could to keep him off the boards and away from the basket, but that only freed up Garowski’s teammates.