Bearcats let out new-year’s roar with pair of victories
     2013-01-10      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen
Scottsbluff senior Michael Hadden goes for 3 at Saturday's home bout against Rapid City Stevens at WNCC's Cougar Palace. The Bearcats defeated Rapid City Stevens 63-53.
 
SCOTTSBLUFF – For those wondering if the Scottsbluff boys’ basketball team would be rattled following the Bearcats’ pair of losses in their conference tournament, they got a resounding answer through Scottsbluff’s two solid victories last weekend.

With senior Eric Moreno scoring at least 20 points in each game, and senior Michael Hadden matching Moreno’s 26-point outing Saturday night, the Bearcats scored a 66-50 win Friday night at Alliance and then turned back Rapid City, S.D.-Stevens 63-53 Saturday at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.

The wins gave Scottsbluff a 10-2 record and got the Bearcats back on the upside of results following their semifinal and third-place game losses in the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament on Dec. 27-29 in Columbus.

Those losses, to Class A Kearney and District B-6 stronghold McCook, snapped Scottsbluff’s 8-0, season-starting run and a 15-game winning streak that included the Bearcats’ final seven victories on their way to winning the Class B state championship last season.

“It was a very good weekend for us,” said Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske, whose team (10-2) committed just a combined 18 turnovers in the two wins. “We wanted to get two wins, and we came out and accomplished the goal.”

In a battle of sharpshooters, Moreno was 7-for-10 (3-for-5 on 3-pointers) on his way to his 23-point night, and he knocked down 6 of 8 of his free throws.

Hadden was perfect on nine free throws, shot 7-for-11 from the floor and made six rebounds. Senior guard Taylor Winkler tacked on 10 points, nailing a pair of 3-pointers.

“Michael and Eric combined to go 14 for 21 for the game,” Siske said, "and what I like that Eric is doing is he is attacking the basket pretty hard, and it’s something we’ve been asking him to do and the past two nights he’s done a great job.

“People have to respect his shooting ability. He’s going to get people guarding him up short and his shot faking is kind of deceptively quick, because he kind of lulls people to sleep, floats around a little bit and then he goes right by somebody.”

Scottsbluff succeeded defensively by shutting down Stevens junior guard Steven Schaeffer, luring him into early foul trouble with just six first-half points in 16 minutes in which the Raiders (2-4) just scored 19 in the first half.

The Bearcats maintained that eight-point lead after three quarters and led by as many as 14 points in the third period.

“I thought our defense was really good, especially in the first halftime,” Siske said. “In the second half, it maybe not quite as good because I was switching up defenses and we were in a little bit of foul trouble and some fatigue.”

Schaeffer led all scorers with 26 points, hitting 8 of 18 shots including just 2 of 7 3-point shots.

“Steven Schaeffer is one of the best players that we have seen," Siske said. "He has six points at half and ends up with 26. A lot of them were earned. I thought we were guarding him pretty well. And the degree of difficulty on some of his shots is pretty high, and that’s what we told the kids that they can make the tough shots and he did.”

Senior guard Matt Klein, perhaps still bothered in free-throw shooting by a pre-season broken hand, hit just one free throw but had seven assists and two steals. Freshman Austin Clarkson added four rebounds and two blocks.

Sophomore Jackson Hinze, who started the game and had a strong effort against Alliance, had ill effects force him out of the game for the second half.

“I thought we were very efficient in the second half and played with poise, minus a possession or two,” Siske said. “We took really good shots and knocked down free throws.”

Against Alliance on Friday, the Bearcats committed just eight turnovers and made 48 percent from the floor in downing the Bulldogs.
Moreno ripped four 3-point shots on his way and was 8-for-13 from the field in reaching the 20-point mark. Winkler followed Moreno by scoring 13 points, while Hadden followed with 12 and Klein hit two 3s on his way to scoring 10 points.

“What I told the kids afterward, I said, ‘I think we got better this week and I thought this week was probably our best week of practice we’ve have all year,” Siske said.

“And now the challenge is to top it, have a better week of practice and take another step forward. Having Matt back helps and now we can just really getting a set rotation and get used to our roles.”

Bearcat girls fall to Alliance
The good news for the Scottsbluff girls Friday night was that the Bearcats broke 40 points for the second straight time after having been held under the mark in each of their first seven losses.

The bad news was that 40 points weren’t enough against Alliance, which left the SHS gym with a 55-44 win over the Bearcats.

“We played well in spots, but we need to be more consistent to be able to produce more victories,” said Scottsbluff coach Mike Burda, whose team (1-8) was coming off winning its first game by taking the seventh-place contest of the GNAC Tournament against Hastings.

“We are getting better each week of games and practices, so that is a huge positive.

Alliance senior Olivia Vogel had a career-high 18 points and had eight rebounds in leading the Bulldogs (6-4) to their third straight win.

The Bearcats, who were outscored 12-5 in the second quarter and entered halftime trailing 28-16.

Scottsbluff got 14 points from junior Kiley Guerue with 14 points and 11 from senior Liz Cunningham along with three assists and three rebounds. Toni Rosado chipped in eight points and pulled down five rebounds.

The Bearcat girls began the week Tuesday at Gering, and this weekend finds both Scottsbluff teams splitting their Friday and Saturday games between the SHS gym and the Wyoming capital city.

On Friday, the Bearcat boys play host to Cheyenne East at 7 p.m. and at Cheyenne Central on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Scottsbluff girls will play at Cheyenne Central on Friday at 7 p.m. and will entertain East on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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