Bearcat girls' perfect streak reaches 12 before loss
     2011-02-17      By Terry Gaston    editor@geringcitizen.com
Two victories in the East-West Shoot-Out on Thursday and Friday left the Scottsbluff girls' basketball team still undefeated for 2011 and having run the Bearcats' winning streak since the New Year to 12.
No. 13 was not to happen on Saturday, however. While Scottsbluff senior Hattie Guzman ripped 22 points for the Bearcats, Lexington had two sharp-shooting guards nail 22 points – apiece.

Lexington senior Hailey Mandelko and junior Sydney Seberger – whose numbers, 23 and 21, respectively, ironically add up to their 44-point total – combined for nine of the Minutemaids' 3-points in rolling past the Bearcats 64-46.

The loss spoiled Scottsbluff's perfect run for 2011, which had grown to a dozen wins with a 61-40 rout of McCook on Thursday and a 46-40 victory over Class A North Platte on Friday. All three of Scottsbluff's games in the Shoot-Out were in the new Bluffs Middle School gym.

Lexington, behind 13 first-half points by Seberger with three 3-points and nine by Mandelko on all treys, built a quick 29-15 advantage with 3:52 left in the first half.

The Bearcats (18-4) dug in deep, however, scoring the last seven points of the half and the first three of the second half to cut the Minutemaids' lead to 29-25. But Lexington spent the next four minutes on a 12-2 run to regain the 14-point advantage.

“They were on fire and hard to stop,” Scottsbluff coach Mike Burda said of Lexington, which got five 3-pointers from Mandelko and four treys from Seberger in their twin 22-point outings.
The Minutemaids kept Scottsbluff from getting closer than 10 the rest of the way and had a 63-43 advantage with 1:24 remaining, in spite of Guzman's four 3-balls and 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Still, Burda said he was pleased with the way the Bearcats hung in against Lexington, which had pelted Scottsbluff 47-28 on Dec. 29 in Kearney and Mandelko – who will play collegiately at NCAA Division I Southern Utah University – scored 27 points.
“The score does not indicate the competitiveness of the game,” Burda said. “They were just on fire and hard to stop.

“The Seberger girl was impressive, I didn't know she could shoot the ball like that,” Burda said. “Their 11 3s were contested too.”

The win lifted the Minutemaids (20-3) to their 10th straight win and 13th victory in 14 contests.
Guzman shared team-leading rebounding honors with senior Makayla Westphal with five boards each.
In beating McCook two nights earlier, Scottsbluff was 21-for-24 from the free-throw line and outscored the Bison (9-14 after the weekend) by 10 points in each of the first two quarters to take a commanding 36-16 halftime lead.
“We played hard defensively and were able to force a lot of turnovers and able to transition the basketball,” Burda said. “We've had a lot of girls step up on any given night. In a team defense format like ours, we don't care who scores.”

Guzman had 15 points for the Bearcats. Westphal followed with 12, including a 10-for-11 effort to lead Scottsbluff's free-throw dominance, and she also had seven rebounds. Senior Abby Zach added 11 points., with both Guzman and Zach netting three 3-pointers apiece.

The Bearcats' win over North Platte on Friday saw Scottsbluff ride a 15-2 run to end the first half and take a 31-14 lead over a Bulldog team that was 5-0 in games against Class B opposition.
North Platte (9-11 after the weekend) took advantage of some Bearcat offensive struggles in the second half and hit a last-second shot to get as close as six.

Senior Gillian Harkins led a balanced Bearcat attack with 12 points and five rebounds, while Westphal had 11 points and 6 rebounds. Zach also had six boards to go with her 10 points, while sophomore Zoey Rada added five rebounds.

“We came out strong, our defense came out and did some good things in the second half, but offensively we struggled,” Burda said. “Gillian was the best post player on the court.”
The weekend action left Scottsbluff with a week's worth of practice to prepare for its regular-season finale against Gering (9-12) on Friday night for a 6 p.m. contest in Cougar Palace at Western Nebraska Community College. The Bearcats won the teams' first meeting in Gering, 52-36, on Jan. 11.
“We're not hanging our heads,” Burda said of the loss to Lexington. “We're excited to get back to work and get ready for Gering on Friday.”

Scottsbluff will then return to Cougar Palace next Thursday for semifinal action of the District B-6 tournament. The top-seeded Bearcats will play Tuesday's winner between No. 4 seed McCook and fifth-seeded Alliance (3-17).



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