Gering boys prepare for season opener against Scottsbluff
     2013-12-05      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Roger Holsinger/for the Citizen - Gering senior Taylor Nelson fights for the rebound against Crawford Ram opponents at the Hall of Fame Jamboree scrimmage held last weekend at Gering. 
Oftentimes, Gering and Scottsbluff wind up meeting somewhere during the season-opening Western Conference Invitational Basketball Tournament.

This year, why not start the season with the Twin Cities arch-rivalry?

Gering boys’ coach Randy Plummer begins his eighth season tonight (Thursday) against Scottsbluff, which is coming off a 23-6, Class B state runner-up finish last season after the Bearcats won state in 2012.

“It kind of changes the complexion of things,” Plummer said of the first-round match-up which will begin at about 7 p.m. at the Gering High School gymnasium.

“The fact that it’s Scottsbluff adds a little extra, and I’m glad that we get the chance to play them at home. There are a few people who show up for those things.”

The Bulldogs have opened season and tournament play against Torrington in recent years, and the Trail Blazers have brought some strong credentials into each game.

“We’ve been starting against Torrington the last few years and when we played them, they were defending state champs two years in a row,” said Plummer, whose team won at Torrington last year, 60-45, and took third in the tourney. “It’s not like we didn’t have had a decent game to begin with anyway.”

Seniors Grant Olsson at post and Christian Groskopf at shooting guard, along with junior point guard Joses Palomo, are returning starters from last season’s 13-10 campaign. And returning senior post Taylor Nelson started when Olsson was injured.

Gering got its first workout against other teams Saturday in the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame Jamboree, played at Gering High School against Mitchell and Crawford.

“It’s tough to say because we didn’t run all of our stuff,” Plummer said in assessing the non-scored event, which consisted of a half against each team. “I know other schools were scouting us, and I’m not about to give away all of our offenses and defenses, stuff we’re going to start doing Thursday.

“We ran motion offense and stayed basically in half-court man (defense) for both games. We did OK. Crawford was obviously outmanned and Mitchell gave us a pretty good go. It was a pretty lively scrimmage against Mitchell. It’s a good rivalry between us and them. It gave us a good look at what we’re doing, and obviously we need to improve a few things before we play on Thursday.”

The Gering-Scottsbluff winner will play in Friday’s semifinals at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace at 8 p.m.; the loser will play in the consolation semis at Scottsbluff High School, also at 8 p.m. The Bulldogs and Bearcats are bracketed with Mitchell and Torrington, which play at Mitchell tonight.

The top bracket has Omaha Skutt Catholic opening at Sidney, and Chadron visits Alliance. Those teams’ semifinal games will be Friday at 6:30 p.m., with the losers at SHS and the winners at WNCC.

Saturday’s third-place game at Cougar Palace will be at 3:15 p.m. and the championship contest at 6:45 p.m.

“I’m excited to get going,” Plummer said. “I think we have the makings of a good team, but it if was all that easy, they wouldn’t need a coach, right? They need to get the right things running and remind them about playing defense and doing things that are important to winning games.”

Plummer has never been hesitant to bench all five of his starters, either.

“We have some really good back-ups,” he said. “Right now, I think I have 10 guys that I think can play. There will be a lot of kids who play this weekend, that’s for sure.”

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