Lady Wildcats claim second MAC championship
     2011-01-27      By Brian Hale   
Coach Britany Cooper and the Lady Wildcats celebrate their title. 
This year's Minuteman Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament had a little bit of everything for the high school basketball fan - a stage-like setting at the Cabelas sports complex, high-speed action, close games and a record blowout, amazing comebacks, surprising upsets of both #1 seeds and three overtime games.

The tourney began on Monday with the girls action. Banner County flew past the Garden County Eagles 59-38 while the Blue Knights of South Platte quieted the Storm from Creek Valley 50-39 and record deficits were being set as Minatare fell to Leyton, 61-9. Top seeded Potter-Dix received the customary first round bye.

The boys bracket tipped off on Tuesday with Leyton defeating Banner County 50-39, Minatare reversing South Platte 52-25 and Garden County sneaking past Potter Dix, 53-46. The #1 Creek Valley Storm, with their tournament bye, awaited the winner of Garden County vs. Potter-Dix.

Round two of the MAC Tournament on Thursday spelled demise for both top seeded teams in the boys and girls brackets as the Banner County girls skated past #1 Potter-Dix, 55-42 and the Garden County boys surprised the #1 Creek Valley Storm, 39-37 in Overtime. The other two semi-finals pitted the Leyton girls against South Platte with
Leyton winning easily 43-25 and the surging Minatare Indian boys over Leyton, 62-53.

In that late Thursday semifinal, Minatare jumped out to an 8-0 lead before the Warriors settled down and played the Indians even the rest of the way. The Indians never trailed by less than their initial lead until the Warriors made it interesting cutting it to 58-53 with 32 seconds to go with a flurry of last minute buckets of their own. Minatare's Wojo hit several key free throws going 6 for 6 from the line in the fourth quarter to secure the win while Dakin Rummel shot lights-out hitting 6 three-pointers en route to his game high 28 points advancing them to the MAC Championship on Saturday.

Minatare improved to 8-3 on the season while Leyton dropped to 8-4.
In Saturday's first consolation game, the Potter-Dix Coyote girls found some redemption, earning third place in the tourney by upending the South Platte Blue Knights, 55-37. The second game of the night was the first of our two back-to-back OT games which proved to be an exciting comeback for the Leyton boys. The Warriors had to chisel away at an early Creek Valley lead to eventually tie it up at the end of regulation. Then, the Warriors continued their late momuntum by blanking the Storm 8-0 in the final stanza, winning the third place finish by the score of Leyton 54 Creek Valley 46.

The second exciting overtime game immediately followed when the Banner County girls, defending their MAC title, took on the Lady Warriors of Leyton in the final matchup. The Wildcats ran up a 27-13 halftime lead which should have put them in good shape.

However, the scorebook was showing several key BC girls already in foul trouble... and it almost made the difference. The Lady Warriors came out on the warpath in the second half, erasing the Wildcat lead by outscoring them 30-16 to tie it up at 43-43 with 15 seconds left in regulation. Despite the fact that Banner County never trailed and the only time the game was tied was at 0-0 and 43-43... all the momentum had shifted to the Lady Warriors. The Lady Wildcats held on to win in OT 49-45 to claim their second consecutive MAC Championship.

The Lady Wildcats are led by Coach Brittany Cooper who gave credit to how the girls stuck together with key starters out. Assistant Coach Ms. Covell had this to say, "The second half was nerve racking with Leyton catching up quickly with a tie of 43-43. We lost Lindsey Soule 3rd quarter and Kaylea Stoddard 4th quarter from fouling out. With Brooke Wyatt having four fouls herself, the girls were at a tough spot, but Cody Muhr and Amanda Harrison managed to keep up. With the girls going to overtime, the girls fought hard and managed to win the game. Jessica Bruce, Brooke Wyatt and Ashley Harrison scored points during overtime. It was a great game!"

The final game of the tournament ended up being a rematch from earlier this month in Minatare when the Indians defeated the Garden County Eagles in a low scoring affair at home, 32-28. At Minatare, the Indians found a way to claw back after being down by 7 late in the game to win by 4. This time, it was to be much different. It was the Eagles turn to play catch up, and they did.

Minatare was on fire early as Xavier Longoria and company hit several key shots off some really pretty passing from the Indians.

Minatare took a 5 point lead into half 26-21, but it already felt as if the game was slipping away. It didn't take the Eagles long in the third quarter to erase the Minatare lead and secure a 10 point lead of their own at 35-25. Things seemed to be spinning out of control for Minatare when their sharpshooter was whistled for a technical foul. Minatare has scored over 70 multiple times this year, but in the second half of this one the Indians just couldn't hit any of their shots. One thing is for sure. When the Indians are hot, they're hot! … and when they're not, they're not.

The Garden County Eagles, behind solid inside play and hustle in the backcourt spoiled Minatare's hopes for a 2011 MAC Championship, 44-36 Saturday night in Sidney.



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