Bearcat boys finish big season at state tournament
     2011-03-17      By Terry Gaston    editor@geringcitizen.com
In some ways, it could be said that the Scottsbluff boys’ basketball team might not have lived up to some’s expectations by losing a tough first-round state tournament game.

In other ways and probably more so in being meaningful, are that the Bearcats were the District B-6 champions, won the season-opening Western Conference Invitational Tournament, qualified for state for the second time in three years and in Tony Siske’s four years as head coach, and they were rewarded for playing a tough schedule.

And after having four days to ponder Scottsbluff’s past four months from preseason to state, Siske on Monday called the year nothing short of a success.

“It was a great season, winning 18 games and ending our season at state,” said Siske, who led the Bearcats to their 34th state tournament berth in the process.

Scottsbluff started out strong against Lincoln Pius X in their first-round Class B state tournament game at Pershing Center in Lincoln, but then the Thunderbolts struck hard and heavy.

Pius X turned the Bearcats’ early 8-6 lead into a 17-2 run to end the first quarter and maintained a double-digit margin most of the game’s balance in winning 67-43.

“It wasn’t the way we wanted it to end, but if it had to end on a loss, it might as well be down at Lincoln,” said Siske, whose team finished the year 18-8 and saw their first-round foes finish third in Class B with a 20-5 record.
Pius X’s two centers combined for 27 points and really hurt Scottsbluff inside, leading the Thunderbolts to 54 percent shooting for the game by combining on 12 of 19 shots (63.2 percent) between themselves. The tandem also combined for 17 rebounds and helped limit the Bearcats to just 35 percent shooting from the floor.

The ‘Bolts also hurt Scottsbluff from outside, with two other players scoring in double figures to total 26 points.

“We played a great team,” Siske said of Pius X, which stuck with eventual state champion South Sioux City before taking a 50-47 loss in the semifinals. The Thunderbolts then defeated Norris 72-63 in the third-place contest.

Pius X entered the state tourney with five straight wins and 12 victories in its last 14 outings dating back to late December. The Thunderbolts wre the No. 3 seed in the brutal District B-3 tournament but beat both Norris and Gretna, the two state tourney’s wild-card teams. Gretna finished as the state runner-up to South Sioux City (23-2).

“They came into state on a roll and ended up playing the team that won state very tough,” Siske said.

Junior Zach Clemens paced Scottsbluff with 14 points and sophomore Michael Hadden added 12 along with a team-high six rebounds.

The Bearcats will lose four seniors but return players who scored more than 90 percent of the team’s points.

Clemens had team-high averages of 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, while junior classmate Rich Williams was next in scoring with 12.2 points per game. Hadden was the No. 3 scorer and rebounder with 10.1 points and 3.1 boards per contest.
Sophomore Eric Moreno (6.5 points, 3.0 rebounds) and junior Isaiah Castellaw (5.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, second on the team) also will be back.

“We have six kids we turned to a lot of the time,” Siske said. “So hopefully next year we can make another run at it.”

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