Lions complete royal sweep over Wildcats
     2013-01-31      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Morrill senior Jacob Ramirez goes in for a basket amid defensive action from Banner County opponent sophomore Tyson Dahlgrin, while Wildcat teammate sophomore Kadan Huber (facing out) and junior Ben Hostetler (No. 31) eye the play at Morrill’s Homecoming game last weekend. The Lions trumped the Wildcats 40-36 for their first win of the season. 
MORRILL — All four varsity basketball teams from Morrill and Banner County entered Saturday’s doubleheader in need of victories to build momentum in heading down their season’s stretch.
And with some Winter Royalty queen candidates playing in the preceding girls’ game and all three king candidates playing in the boys’ game that led to the halftime crowning ceremony, distractions could have been at a premium for the host Lions.

By afternoon’s end, both Morrill teams overcame offensive struggles, and the Lion boys offset a Banner County record-setting performance by sophomore Tyson Walgrin, to score a Winter Royalty doubleheader sweep.
The Morrill girls’ 26-8 win over the Wildcats wouldn’t have won any crowning honors, but it nevertheless was enough to snap the Lions’ five-game losing streak.

The Lion boys broke a six-game slide of their own, scoring their first win of 2013 by out-scrapping Banner County 40-36.
Morrill overcame an early 7-0 deficit and ultimately a 21-rebound, Wildcat school-record rebounding effort by Walgrin, whose 13 points matched game-high honors with Morrill senior Sheldon Le.

Morrill seniors Raina Younkin and Cody Peachey were crowned queen and king at halftime of the boys’ game, which was knotted at 19-all at the halftime break and Winter Royalty coronation.
“We missed 14 shots in the paint in the first half, and we have to figure out a way to make our shots in the paint,” Morrill boys’ coach Cody Wallesen said. “It was our first win in a while, so it feels kind of good even though it was sloppy.”

After Peachey and fellow king candidates Le and senior Taylor Lackey took care of the royalty business at the break, they had unfinished basketball business.
The Lions, who rebounded from their 7-0 deficit to take the first quarter 13-9, had let Banner County turn Morrill’s 17-11 second-quarter lead into the halftime deadlock, and then the Wildcats grabbed a 25-21 lead midway through the third period.

Banner County still clinged to a 26-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter before Morrill senior Jacob Ramirez ripped a 3-point shot eight seconds into the quarter to give the Lions the lead.
After the Wildcats tied the score at 28 on junior Ben Hostetler’s free throws, Morrill found its inside game after early struggles and reeled off a 9-2 run to lead 37-31 with 3:51 left in the game.
“We’ve been trying to make an effort to get out and run and get some easy baskets,” Wallesen said. “We finally got some stuff going, and it just comes down to making shots.”

Banner County got as close as 37-36 on a back-door layup form Hostetler to Dahlgren, but then Lions sophomore Jorge Lara put up an under-handed layup with 1:24 left. The Wildcats missed four shots down the stretch and Lackey added a free throw with 5.2 seconds left to seal Morrill’s hard-fought win.

“I think we had the game, but we had about a two-minute breakdown where we had two or three turnovers in a row where we gave the lead back to them and that’s what got us,” Banner County boys’ coach Jim Wyatt said.

Banner County sophomore Mike McKown followed Dahlgrin’s 13-point effort with 12 points, which included two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“These kids fight to the end, you have to be proud of them,” Wyatt said despite watching his team fall to 1-14 on the season. “They have a lot of class and a lot of heart. We haven’t been winning but we’ve competed in most every game we’ve played.

“We just haven’t got the scores, but they’re young. When you have three sophomores on the floor and they’re learning, and when a sophomore grabs 21 rebounds, what’s that going to do for two more years?”
Lara followed Le’s 13 points with 10 for the Lions (5-9), who visit Bridgeport in the first round of the Western Trails Conference Tournament on Thursday.

“They play really hard defensively and we were just down there and they beat us pretty bad,” Wallesen said of the Lions’ 74-38 loss to the Bulldogs on Jan. 19. “But I feel like we can compete with them, and if we have a couple things go our way that there’s no reason we can’t compete with that team.”

Banner County plays South Platte at Harrisburg on Friday and at Sioux County on Saturday.
“These kids are not going to give up, they’re going to fight all the way,” Wyatt said. “They have a lot of personal pride and play hard, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Although the points in the girls’ game were few and far in between, Morrill (5-9) turned in a stellar defensive effort, shutting out Banner County (1-14) in the second quarter in building a 12-2 halftime lead and then sparing the Wildcats just a third-quarter free throw to build a 19-3 advantage heading into the fourth stanza.
“It’s always good to get a win,” Morrill girls’ coach T.J. Norris said. “Several of our girls played really hard and have a lot to be proud of.”

Senior Taylor Cooper scored all seven of her points in the Lions’ third-quarter run. Junior Dylainee Peacock had seven of her game-high nine points in the first half. Banner County sophomore Ashlynne Hanan scored all her team-leading four points in the fourth period.

Norris also gave Banner County credit under coach Brittany Cooper, who has just two seniors.
“I hope the best for Banner County,” Norris said. “I know they’ve been working hard this season and have faced a lot of struggles. They played hard and gave us a good game.”

The Lions have the lowest seed in the Western Trails Conference Tournament this weekend, but Norris said he likes the potential his team has as it prepares for Class C2-12 sub-district play starting Feb. 18.
“If we start coming together and start playing hard, there is a great deal of potential in our sub-district and I think we can be extremely competitive.”

Both schools had played games Friday night, all on the losing end. The Wildcat boys lost a tough 66-61 decision at Potter-Dix, whose girls downed Banner County 56-17. Hostetler had 19 points and McKown added 13 for the Wildcat boys.

Morrill was swept Friday by Crawford, with the Ram boys (8-7) prevailing 51-37 and the Crawford girls (13-3) winning 66-43.

Mitchell sweeps G-R

The Mitchell girls had a strong outing from seniors Chalsey Grentz and Havannah Newens in turning back Gordon-Rushville 59-52 at home Friday night.
Newens scored a game-high 19 points and Grentz added 15 for the Tigers (9-7), who outscored the Mustangs 13-6 after Gordon-Rushville erased a seven-point deficit starting the fourth quarter and forged a 46-all tie.

The Mitchell boys (9-7) completed the sweep, riding junior Bo McVay’s 32-point outing in downing Gordon-Rushville 72-51.
McVay had five 3-pointers in the first half in scoring 21 points by halftime and also grabbed seven rebounds, made six assists and picked four steals.
Garret Braman followed by leading a balanced supporting scoring effort with 10 points, while Jamie Fegler added nine points and Antonio Barrios and Adam Schlotthauer added eight apiece.

Bayard splits with rivals

The Bayard girls held off a late comeback by Bridgeport to hold off the Bulldogs 41-40, while the Bridgeport boys downed the Tigers 43-30 in the Morrill County arch-rivals’ battle Friday at Bayard.
In the girls’ game, Bayard junior Megan Stuart scored 10 of her game-high 22 points in a second-quarter spree that put the Tigers (4-13) ahead 20-15 at halftime. Bayard took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter and led by seven points midway through the final stanza before Bridgeport closed to within four.

Kaylie Fiscus, who followed Stuart with eight points, scored with 55 seconds left for a 41-35 Bayard lead before the Bulldogs (6-10) rallied to within one but could not catch the Tigers. Bayard thus broke a five-game losing streak with the victory.

In the boys’ game, Bridgeport (10-6) used a 13-5 run in the third quarter to pull away from the Tigers (6-11) and handing Bayard its fifth straight loss. Bayard seniors Dustin Daniel and Braydon Parriott had nine points apiece, while Jason Amateis had a game-high 14 points for Bridgeport.

Minatare swept in doubleheader

The Indians were swept in back-to-back doubleheaders, Friday at Leyton and Saturday at home against Potter-Dix, and then Tuesday night at Hemingford.
The Leyton boys (14-1) got a triple-double from Dylan Brenner of 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in pacing the Warriors past Minatare. Brennen Cruise added a double-double for Leyton with 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Sam Schumacher added 21 points for Leyton.

Javier Guerrero led the Indians (now 9-6) with 14 points and Dominic Longoria added 10. Minatare lost at Potter-Dix 46-36 and then at Hemingford 55-38, the Indians’ fifth loss in 11 days.
The Minatare girls fell to 1-12 with losses at Potter-Dix (62-24), Leyton (69-12) and Hemingford (69-12). The Indians play host to Sioux County on Friday.

WTC Tourney begins

Both Mitchell teams will be at home and both Bayard and Morrill teams will be on the road Thursday for first-round action in the Western Trails Conference Tournament.
The Mitchell girls (9-7) are the No. 2 seed and face No. 7 Morrill (5-9) at 5:30 p.m. before the No. 4 seed Tiger boys (9-7) entertain No. 5 Bayard (6-11) at 7 p.m.

The No. 6 seeds Morrill boys (5-9) and Bayard girls (4-13) will start tourney action at No. 3 Bridgeport (10-6 boys, 6-10 girls), with the girls’ game at 5:30 p.m. and the boys’ contest at 7 p.m.
Both Kimball teams (12-1 boys, 11-2 girls) earned their respective No. 1 seeds and subsequent first-round byes and semifinal berths in Friday’s semifinal games after the tournament moves to Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.

Thursday’s other first-round games have Gordon-Rushville (2-12 boys, 6-9 girls) at Hemingford (13-3 boys, 11-6 girls).

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