Gering boys rally past Scottsbluff
     2011-02-24      By Terry Gaston    editor@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber 
Early on Friday night, things looked like a repeat for the Scottsbluff boys’ basketball team from the Bearcats’ Jan. 22 victory at Gering.
But the Bulldogs turned up the pressure with their defense, reversed a 10-point second-quarter deficit into an eight-point lead after three periods and took the 51-44 victory from Scottsbluff at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.
The win for Gering, oddly enough, came with the Bulldogs scoring the same 51-point total they had in losing at home to the Bearcats 68-51 nearly four weeks earlier.
Fifty-one points were enough this time largely because of Gering’s tenacious 2-3 zone defense, which forced Scottsbluff out of its inside game and rely on the outside. However, the Bearcats were 0-for-13 from the 3-point line while the Bulldogs made 3 of 15 treys.
“We’re a way different team now,” said Gering coach Randy Plummer, whose team (15-6) has reached its coach’s best record in his five years as a head coach. “We had 10 guys who played their hearts out. Any of those 10 guys I could call player of the game.”
Gering dominated at the other line, hitting 18 of 23 free throws (78.3 percent), while Scottsbluff was 6-for-10 at the stripe.
“That was amazing,” said Plummer, whose team made eight of its last 10 free shots. “In a pressure situation, you can run from it or you can face it square in the face.”
The Bulldogs also had a 28-23 advantage in rebounding.
For Scottsbluff (16-6 before Tuesday night’s season finale at Torrington), Bearcats coach Tony Siske was left looking for answers but not making excuses despite having two starters, juniors Zach Clemens and Rich Williams, recovering from illnesses during the week.
Siske, however, had said earlier in the week that Gering – which had two games in the four days, both wins decided by a total of three point, leading to the teams’ matchup in Gering – had an advantage with a six-day preparation for the Bearcats – who had the same prep time for Friday’s contest.
“No excuses, I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Siske said. “They won the game.”
The Bearcats had the hot start, however, building a 12-4 lead in the first quarter and a 22-12 advantage midway through the second quarter. Gering got as close as four at halftime, but Scottsbluff senior Nate Goodwin’s basket with one second left gave the Bearcats a 25-19 lead at intermission.
Then the game’s momentum possibly turned on one play. Scottsbluff junior Isaiah Castellaw missed a breakaway dunk attempt with about 31/2 minutes left in the third quarter and the Bearcats clinging to a 30-29 lead.
Castellaw then fouled Gering senior Gunnar Britsch, whose two free throws began a 9-0 run that ended the third quarter with the Bulldogs ahead 38-30.
“We needed two points right there, and you can’t waste two points,” Siske said of Castellaw’s miss. “In the second half, their zone was really good and pushed us out away from the basket.”
Scottsbluff scored the first four points of the fourth quarter, but Britsch hit a 3-pointer and two more free throws during a 6-2 stretch that gave Gering a 44-36 advantage. Scottsbluff got no closer than five in the final 3:19.
Britsch sealed his game-high 16-point evening with a breakaway basket off an inbounds pass with 43 seconds remaining, sending the large Bulldog contingency into celebration.
And as Plummer put it while briskly walking to the locker room behind his joy-filled Bulldogs, “That’s the way it happens, right there, man!”
Britsch had two 3-pointers and was 4-for-4 on free throws, and he also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. Junior Zach Smith, who had 23 points in the first Scottsbluff-Gering matchup, was held to 14 points but was 6-for-6 at the charity stripe.
Junior Danny O’Boyle had six rebounds and shared team-leading assists honors at three apiece with junior Nate Marquez.
Clemens, who had 29 points against Gering in the first meeting, was held to a team-high 10 points. He also had a team-best seven rebounds.
The win gave Gering victories in six of its final seven games and nine of its last 11 since Jan. 15.
“We’ve gone 6-7 on the road, and I’ve never bought into the thought that you don’t play well on the road,” Plummer said. “Your mind’s clearer and you don’t have to deal with a lot of distractions. “We fought in there and wore them out.”



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