Gering turns back Scottsbluff in Twin City battle
     2013-01-10      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Gering Citizen
Gering senior Dakota Gellner (No. 32) grabs for the rebound from Bearcat junior Toni Rosado (No. 34) while Gering Teammate sophomore Jessica Rogers (No. 20) and Bearcat senior Alexus Pinedo (No. 4) eye the play during Tuesday's exciting battle at Gering. The Lady Bulldogs won 53-42.
 
For the first five minutes of their Twin City Rivalry girls' basketball game Tuesday night at Gering, the Lady Bulldogs played the aggressor and rode an emotional wave to an early 12-point lead.

Once the young Lady Bearcats settled into the game at the Gering High School gymnasium and became acclimated to the rivalry's environs, they grew up over the next 23 minutes and stood toe-to-toe with the Lady Bulldogs in the contest's waning moments.

When push came to shove, a lot of which was called to the whistle tune of 39 personal fouls, Gering used its relative experience in the final four minutes to fend off Scottsbluff for a 53-42 win.

"Getting up quick like that in basketball is always a really tough thing, because just naturally when you get ahead that big, you let down even when you're doing your best not to," said Gering coach Adam Freeburg, whose team led 14-2 in the first 5:47 but were outscored 7-2 the rest of the first quarter.

Sophomore Jessica Rogers scored six of the Bulldogs' first 14 points, and Scottsbluff junior Toni Rosado had a half dozen as well in the opening period in setting a pace for Scottsbluff that kept the Bearcats to within seven points until late in the third quarter.

The teams played even scoring basketball in the second and third quarters, with six each in the second and 15 in the third, a factor that kept Gering ahead by seven (37-30) heading into the final eight minutes.

Rosado had 10 third-period points, pulling Scottsbluff to within three at 22-19 early in the third quarter, and helped draw the Bearcats to within four with 3:00 left in the period before Gering found its niche against Rosado and began padding a lead for the final margin, 11-point victory.

On Tuesday, Rosado mad 6 of 13 field goals and was 6-for-7 at the free-throw line in scoring a game-high 18 points. Rosado also pulled down eight rebounds but she also made six turnovers, of which the Bearcats had 25 miscues for the night.

"Her nickname is Crazy, just because she does what she does," Scottsbluff coach Mike Burda said of Rosado. "She goes down there and sometimes it's amazing the post moves she makes. I don't even know how she does it, but the ball gets into the basket."

Still, Rosado's improving presence inside has made a major difference in the Bearcats' growth since they were swept in the Western Conference Tournament and on their way to losing their first seven straight games. For the first time all season, Scottsbluff has eclipsed the 40-point barrier and has done so for the past three games.

"She's just a competitor, she's really quick , she's not overly tall but for her size she's really quick," Burda said. "She has gone through a lot this year, including as a player, and she has improved as a player."

After Gering rebuilt a nine-point lead late in the third and again led by seven after the period, the Bearcats closed to within three at 43-40 with four minutes remaining.

The Bulldogs responded by getting a follow shot from senior Dakota Gellner to fall, a pair of free throws by senior Alexa Anderson and an inside basketball by junior Katie O'Boyle to regain a nine-point advantage. Scottsbluff got as close at 47-40 before Gering turned two defensive stops into baskets for the final margin of victory.

"They made their runs, and I thought we did a really nice job of putting our foot down and stopping those runs and then making the lead bigger," Freeburg said. "That's a tough thing to do."

Scottsbluff connected on just 16 of its 49 shots (33 percent) and was just 50 percent accurate on free throws Senior guard Alexus Pinedo made three assists and was one of four Bearcats to score four points apiece, along with senior Liz Cunningham, sophomore Aysia Ensrud and freshman Zoe Holscher.

Junior team-leading scorer Kiley Guerue was shut out on nine shots and made just 1 of 4 free throws for her single-point, two-steal night.

"It probably wasn't the prettiest game to watch, but the girls did fight," Burda said. "We feel we're getting a lot better since the beginning of the season. This one hurts a little bit, but we said we were going to let it hurt for tonight and not worry about it, just because we feel that we are getting better in every practice and every game. Hopefully by the end of the season, having that mind-set will pay off."

The victory was the Bulldogs' second of the season in two meetings against the Bearcats, the first of which took place on Scottsbluff's home floor in the consolation semifinals of the Western Conference Invitational on Nov. 30. Gering emerged that day with a 48-33 win.
The Bulldogs, riding some extra passion on the heels of the death of senior Mikal Orozco on Sunday in a car-train accident, came out of the gate Tuesday night and forced the Bearcats (1-9) into five turnovers in the first four minutes.

All the while, Gering was 9-for-24 on free throws and were 21-for-57 (37 percent) from the floor. Jessica Rogers struggled with a 4-for-12 shooting night but still conjured a team-leading 10 points along with a Gering-high 13 rebounds.

Senior Santanna Mitchell followed the Bulldogs' balanced scoring attack with eight points, while O'Boyle followed with seven points with a team-high three steals and five rebounds. Senior Megan Upp added seven points, while sophomore Ashlyn Schultz hit two 3-pointers for her six points and Anderson hit a pair of 2-point shots and two free throws for six points.

The Bulldogs out-rebounded Scottsbluff 40-29, including an 18-9 advantage on offensive boards. Dakota Gellner had five of her eight rebounds off Bulldog misses and Mitchell followed with seven boards.
"We were trying to find mismatches on the post, and I think we did for the most part in the beginning," Freeburg said. "We kind of had some problems getting those mismatches in the middle, but in the fourth quarter, we really did a nice job of getting it in and getting some points on the post."

Both Gering and Scottsbluff will play opponents from two of the three Cheyenne high schools, and the Bulldogs will go on the road Thursday night and get the first crack against a strong East Thunderbird squad.

"We are going to have our hands completely full and more," Freeburg said."They're one of the best teams in Wyoming in all classes. But you know, this group will go down and play as hard as we can and give it a shot. That's all we can do, and these girls will do that."
Scottsbluff then moves into the Wyoming capital Friday night for a game against Central. The Bearcats then play host to East on Saturday at the SHS gym, with the varsity game expected to start at about 3:30 p.m.

"We just need to work on starting out sharper," Burda said." I think tonight we had some girls who got a little emotional. We had some freshmen on the floor who I don't think they had played a Gering freshman game, let alone a Gering varsity game. It's a big growing experience for a lot of the girls, and it is what it is, and we can't hang our head too hard just because we are getting better."

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