Gering teams finish tourney with wins: Bulldog boys take 3rd, girls earn 5th in Sidney Shootout
     2013-01-03      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Gering senior Austin Ferguson (No. 30) goes for two during a recent home game against Alliance. The Bulldogs took third place at the holiday shootout in Sidney last weekend. 
Both Gering basketball teams went 2-1 in the Sidney Cabela’s Holiday Shootout and finished the three-day fest of action with victories Saturday. The Bulldog boys’ 52-49 win over Sidney earned Gering third place, while the Gering girls finished as the consolation champs with a 41-39 win over Gothenburg.

Certainly both Gering coaches would like to see their respective teams use their final-day victories as springboards for their second-semester opening action, which continues with a home doubleheader Friday against Sidney.

After the Bulldog boys scored a 53-50 overtime win over Sidney in the third-place game of the Western Conference Invitational on Dec. 1, the Bulldogs and Red Raider boys met for the second time for third in a tournament and again the margin was just three points in the Bulldogs’ favor.

As in the teams’ first meeting, Sidney (5-4) basically lived and died by the 3-point shot. The Red Raiders, 5-for-21 in their first loss to Gering, shot 24 treys Saturday and made just three.

“They just let the 3s fly all over the place,” Gering coach Randy Plummer said. “If they start falling, we might be in trouble.”

The Bulldogs (7-4) had a 44-36 lead after three quarters and fended off Sidney’s every effort to collect the win.

Junior Christian Groskopf led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while senior Austin Ferguson followed with 15 and had 10 rebounds. Taylor Nelson led Gering’s 34-21 advantage in rebounds with 12 boards and also made four assists.

Gering made more free throws (12, out of 17) than Sidney attempted (10, with just four made).

“Grant Olsson was out with a back injury, and Taylor Nelson filled in admirably,” Plummer said. “And Austin Ferguson was all over the place.”

In the Bulldogs’ 50-46 semifinal loss to Douglas, Wyo., senior Zac Bibb led Gering’s bid with 17 points and four blocked shots. Ferguson was next with seven points and had team-leading efforts of nine rebounds and four assists, doing what Plummer quipped was “everything but sell popcorn at halftime.”

Groskopf had three steals in the Bulldogs’ forcing of 22 Douglas turnovers while Gering just committed five.

“It was a back and forth game, and it could have gone either way,” said Plummer, whose team took 56 shots (16 made) while Douglas was 15-for-30. “The shots we took weren’t bad shots, we just couldn’t get much to fall.”

Gering opened the tournament with a 58-42 win over Hershey, jumping on the Panthers 19-3 in the first quarter and forcing 32 turnovers while committing just six miscues. Sophomore Joses Palomo led Gering’s bounty with five steals and shared team-high scoring honors with Bibb with 12 points each.

Hershey had a 28-23 edge in rebounds, largely because the Bulldogs attempted 21 more shots. “We got a lot more shots, so they had more rebounds,” Plummer said. “Then they turned the ball over so much.”

Ferguson led the Bulldogs in rebounds with six, while senior Walker Britsch had four assists.

“We did all right, if we could have just won the other game,” Plummer said.

The Gering girls’ 2-1 run through the shootout began with a 65-41 loss to Hershey but rebounded in the consolation bracket with a 48-29 win over Chase County before rallying to top Gothenburg for fifth place.

“After the game on Thursday, the girls decided in the locker room to put it aside and play as hard as we could,” Bulldog girls’ coach Adam Freeburg said. “It felt good after that win Friday, and we carried that momentum into Saturday.”

Senior Megan Upp hit two free throws with 11 seconds remaining against Gothenburg (3-7), giving the Bulldogs their only lead of Saturday’s consolation final.

Upp’s free shots, which gave her team co-leadership with senior Santanna Mitchell with nine points apiece, capped a 16-8 fourth-quarter rally for Gering.

Junior Katie O’Boyle had eight of the Bulldogs’ 26 rebounds, while Upp and Allie Vacha had three steals apiece and sophomore Ashlyn Schultz dished out three assists.

Freeburg said his team’s biggest accomplishment of the tournament was its sharing of the wealth.

“It was cool to see that we had a lot of different girls contribute in a lot of different ways,” said Freeburg, whose team improved to 6-5. “Winning those two games was a nice accomplishment and we played really well over the weekend.”

In Gering’s opening loss to Hershey, senior Dakota Gellner led the Bulldogs with 13 points. O’Boyle had a team-high six rebounds and Vacha made four steals.

Against Chase County, senior Alexa Anderson fueled the Bulldogs’ offense with 12 points and sophomore Jessica Rogers added nine, while Gellner pulled down five rebounds and Upp made five steals.

“Winning two out of three games was a good way for us to get going with the second semester,” Freeburg said. “Now we have a lot of important conference games ahead of us.”

After the Bulldogs play tourney runner-up Sidney (7-2) on Friday at 5:45 p.m., Gering will entertain arch-rival Scottsbluff at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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