Bulldogs ready to move forward after pair of losses
     2012-01-26      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Scottsbluff’s Matt Klein (No. 2) fights for the rebound as Gering’s Danny O'Boyle (No. 22) and Tyler Wallace fights to gain an advantage, while teammate Dillon Wademan (No. 32) observes. The Bulldogs fought hard but ultimately, the Bearcats prevailed 60-36 in the rivalry game at WNCC’s Cougar Palace.
 
No one would blame the Gering boys’ basketball team if the Bulldogs’ slow start Friday night against Chadron was a result of thinking past the Cardinals and to Saturday night’s Twin Cities Rivalry game against Scottsbluff.

But Gering coach Randy Plummer said it was not the game afterward that had the Bulldogs struggling in a 9-9 first quarter deadlock, it was still the sting from their loss Tuesday night at Torrington.
“It was still a hangover from Tuesday,” said Plummer, whose team followed its 63-45 loss to the Trailblazers by finally catching enough fire against Chadron to down the Cardinals 64-45 at the Gering High School gym.

In Saturday’s rivalry contest, again the Bulldogs struggled but kept Scottsbluff at bay until the Bearcats ignited in the second quarter, led by 13 twice before and at halftime, and continued on to a 60-36 win over Gering at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.

In the victory between the losses, Plummer said the defeat at Torrington — which the Blazers (then 8-3) avenged a 54-51, semifinal-game loss to the Bulldogs in the season-opening Western Conference Invitational Tournament on Dec. 2 — was still in Gering’s psyche.

“We couldn’t get it shaken,” Plummer said. “We’re a bunch of kids who rely on confidence, and then we lose by 18 and that shakes their confidence. We needed someone to shake off the dust and we came back.

“Momentum, mojo, karma, whatever you want to call it, you appreciate it when you have it, but if you lose it, you have to search for finding it back.”

It took awhile, but finally in the final minute of the second quarter, Gering got its mojo working and scored three free throws to take a 24-19 halftime lead.

Then the Bulldogs’ second-half press forced Chadron into numerous mistakes, and Gering used a 7-2 run to build a 33-23 lead, a margin retained by quarter’s end. From there, the Bulldogs finished strong and the 19-point final margin was the second gap of that size in the final minute.

While the Cardinals outshot the Bulldogs by percentage from the floor, 47 percent to 40, the Bulldogs made 24 field goals to Chadron’s 17 and outrebounded the Cards 35-27 and forced 28 turnovers.

Senior Danny O’Boyle hit Gering’s two 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 18 points, while senior center Tyler Wallace led the Bulldogs on the boards with 11 and assists with four. O’Boyle also had five steals, while senior guard Nate Marquez and Wallace picked four apiece.

While Gering had plenty of action preceding Saturday night’s Twin Cities Rivalry contest, Scottsbluff had been off for a week. Still, by indication of the Bearcats’ 5-3, first-quarter lead, neither fatigue nor rust seemed to play a factor in the Bulldogs’ or Scottsbluff’s lack of scoring.

“We just missed a lot of shots,” Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske said. “We got some good looks, we just missed them.”

Junior Matt Klein, however, got a beautiful look at the basket to end the second quarter, winding off the last 24.7 seconds and driving to the hoop to draw a foul. Klein hit both free throws and the Bearcats entered halftime ahead 27-14. Senior forward Zach Clemens scored nine of his team-high 13 points in the second frame. (See below.)

Bottom line, as the final score indicated, the Bearcats had more shots fall than did Gering. Scottsbluff made 20 of its 53 shots (6-for-19) from 3-point range) while the Bulldogs were just 12-for-45 (2-for-10 on treys). Following Clemens, senior Rich Williams added 11 points and senior Isaiah Castellaw had 10.

“We missed a minimum of 10 to 14 shots that were layups or within 2 or 3 feet from the basket,” Plummer said. “They just didn’t go in for us, and afterward they were able to basically pull away.”
And Siske and Clemens both pointed to the Bearcats’ defense for the team’s third-period success. By 1:11 left in the third, Scottsbluff had built a 45-20 advantage when Castellaw scoring his first six points after early foul trouble.

“We’ve got to credit the kids’ defense,” Siske said. “It was very good. And thinking back, there were not many wide-open shots that Gering missed.”

Gering, despite being outsized, held a 34-32 rebounding advantage, led by O’Boyle’s six boards. Marquez had four steals. However, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer was senior Zach Smith with just seven points.

“After watching the game on tape, you see how hard they played and fought,” Plummer said.

Siske said in spite of the Bearcats’ 14-1 record after the win, his team still has plenty of work to do.

“We were a little sloppy with the ball,” he said. “We need to value every possession.”

Gering’s loss to Torrington snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Bulldogs and left them spinning after the Blazers’ Jason McManamen rolled up 24 points.

“We outrebounded them 31-21, which leads to victory,” Plummer said. “But we had a lot of careless turnovers.”

Senior Colton Keller led the rebounding attack with eight, while senior Dillon Wademan and Wallace had six apiece. Wallace had a team-high 10 points and O’Boyle had nine.

Both Gering and Scottsbluff had a little time to get ready for this week’s action, which has the Bulldogs at home against Alliance on Friday then traveling to Ogallala on Tuesday. The Bearcats have Sidney at home on Saturday. All three of those games have 7 p.m. starting times.

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