By Derek Hoesly


EVANSVILLE – Blue Devils boys’ basketball team cruised to a 74-46 victory over Brodhead in a Rock Valley Conference crossover matchup last Thursday.

An outstanding pre-game ceremony that Evansville eighth-grader Breana Sendelbach led, however, showed just how much more important what we do in life is to what we do in a game.

Breana had a fundraiser for the Make a Wish Foundation.

She raised money through donations and t-shirt sales. The bright orange t-shirts could be seen throughout the gymnasium.

Breana was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May 2015.

After receiving treatments, Breana received good news in October 2015 that she was in remission. The fundraiser totaled amazingly more than $2,000 – with all the proceeds going to Make a Wish.

“I did this so more people could get their wishes quicker. Then they don’t have to wait so long. My message is just keep fighting,” Breana said.

Cancer has hit close to the Brodhead athletic family, too, as Tom Nipple had to give up coaching Brodhead-Juda baseball recently to fight Glioblastoma Multiforme. Tom is still going through treatments to battle this form of brain cancer diagnosed just this past spring.

In a pre-game ceremony, UW Men’s Basketball Coach Greg Gard present both Breana and Tom his autographed basketball.

Coach Gard recently lost his father Glen to Glioblastoma Multiforme. Having Gard there was a pleasant surprise to Breana and her family, as well as to Nipple. All the players and coaches from both teams came out to center court for an inspirational photo.

“I was totally surprised and honored to be a part of such a worthwhile event,” Nipple said. “Staying positive and having a strong support system of family and friends has helped me.

“I can’t thank my family and friends enough and can’t imagine going through this battle without them,” Nipple said.

“I felt it was important for me to be there if I could help show support,” added Gard. “I’ve talked about what my dad went through with his battle and what our family went through.

“If I can help somebody in any way, shape or form that’s battling cancer, or help organizations that are trying to raise funds to fight it, I’m more than willing to step forward and try to help.”

As for the game, Evansville jumped out to a 15-6 lead. Kyle Rutkowski, who had a big night, scored on a baseline drive and fast break layup off a Cardinal turnover.

Sophomore sharp shooter Parker Johnson drilled a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 15-9.

The Blue Devils scored 11 out of the next 17 points to go up 26-15 with 5:56 left in the opening half. During the surge, Rutkowski converted in the paint, and Tanner Meehan buried a three-pointer.

Senior Josh Pickel connected on a three-pointer to slice the deficit to 29-20. The Cardinals drilled six three-pointers to account for 18 out of their 22 points in the opening half.

Brodhead had a difficult time dealing with Evansville’s size as several of the Cardinals shots were blocked or altered.

Evansville outscored Brodhead 8-2 to close out the first half with a 37-22 lead at intermission. Zach Mielke hit a 15-foot jumper in the middle of the lane to ignite the spurt. Rutkowski capped the surge with an inside conversion.

The Blue Devils took a commanding 48-22 lead with an 11-0 run to open the second half. Rutkowski and Mielke continued to do major damage against the Cardinals. Rutkowski scored on a putback. Mielke had a couple of paint conversions during the run. Brodhead had no answer for the inside game of the Blue Devils.

The lead ballooned to 58-25 as Evansville went on a 10-0 run. Rutkowski scored six points, all coming in the paint during the run. Rutkowski had a game-high 20 points.

The Cardinals continued to battle, though. Brodhead went on a 7-0 run to make the score 64-34. Johnson dialed up a corner three-pointer to spark the run. Sophomore Brekan Day buried a pair of free throws after getting fouled on a drive.

The Cardinals closed out the game, outscoring the Blue Devils 7-3. Day slashed to the rim for a conversion. Junior Tyler Flannery hit a pair of freethrows after getting hammered on a drive.

Johnson led the Cardinals with 14 points. Day chipped in 11 points, all coming in the second half for Brodhead.

Brodhead hosted Edgerton yesterday, Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Breana wanted to send out a special thank you to Sandy Franklin. Franklin made the t-shirts at Sew Many Threads in Evansville.


Special appearance of Greg Gard UW Men's BB coach   presenting signed BB to Tom  and Evansville student Brittany  both  fighting  cancer. Tom is accompanied by his Son Alex and Brittany along  with he

CUTLINE Mandy Fields photo


Last Thursday’s boys’ basketball game had a special appearance of Greg Gard, UW men’s basketball coach, who presented autographed basketballs to Brodhead baseball Coach Tom Nipple and to Evansville student Breana Sendelbach. Both have been fighting cancer. Tom is accompanied by his son Alex, Breana by her parents Tim and Angie.


Cardinal Justice Tway gets above the height of Evansville for two points.