Minatare boys rally to down Leyton, end losing streak: Pep rally, WNCC routines fire up home Indians crowd for doubleheader
     2014-02-06      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Minatare’s Javier Guerrero (No. 1) and Leyton’s Cody McKay (No. 41) head to the hoop, followed by Minatare teammate Yovan Perez and Leyton opponents Drew Brenner and Brenner Cruise during Friday’s home match up. The Indians got their groove back after a recent series of losses. 
MINATARE — After having opened the season with nine straight wins, the Minatare boys’ basketball team found itself going winless in its two Minuteman Activities Conference Tournament games.

And after another loss last Tuesday at Oelrichs, S.D., the Indians found themselves down in the first half Friday at home by 10 points to MAC Tournament champion Leyton.

But Minatare did not panic, and the Indians clamped down on defense, passed the visiting Warriors early in the fourth quarter and used solid free-throw shooting down the stretch to preserve the 61-54 victory.

The Minatare girls gave Leyton, which also won its MAC tourney title, first-half fits before the Warriors broke away to take a 48-22 win in Friday’s first game.

The doubleheader was preceded by a special pep rally conducted by Western Nebraska Community College, through its Adopt-a-School program.

Members of the Cougar men’s basketball players spoke on esteem issues and had some shooting and dunking exhibitions, while the WNCC cheerleaders performed at halftime of each game.

Minatare boys’ coach Kyle Cotton said Friday’s win featured the most complete effort from the Indians, something they needed after falling from the No. 1 seed in the MAC tournament to fourth place.

“That has been our emphasis since the MAC Tournament, where I didn’t think we fought as much as we should have,” Cotton said. “Today (Friday), they focused and they came out and played hard. They played hard on defense, especially in the second half.

“Overall, I thought the defensive intensity was fantastic, and I feel like that is the reason we won.”

But Leyton (11-4 after a Saturday win over Crawford) got the upper hand early, scoring 11 straight points to take a 13-5 lead late in the first quarter.

Minatare cut the deficit to 13-10 early in the second period before the Warriors bolted to a 19-12 advantage that they eventually turned into a 27-17 lead with 2:37 left in the first half.

A 5-0 run for the Indians helped start a 9-3 run to finish the first half, which Leyton led 30-26 at halftime.

“For as young as they are, they don‘t panic,” Cotton said. “We had let them get some easy baskets.”
The Warriors rebuilt a 40-34 lead with 3:11 left in the third quarter before Minatare scored five unanswered points in the quarter and had a 7-0 run that put them ahead 41-40 27 seconds into the fourth quarter.

The teams traded leads four time afterward, and the Indians scored seven free throws in a 9-0 run that gave them their biggest lead at 57-47 with 1:51 remaining.

Sophomore Yovan Perez was 7-for-8 at the free-throw line, all in the fourth quarter, in keeping Leyton at bay the rest of the game. Perez scored 10 points on the night and was one of four Minatare players to reach double figures.

Junior Juan Garfio led the Indians with 17 points, followed by junior Javier Guerrero with 14 and sophomore Dominic Longoria with 13. Minatare was 21-for-34 on free throws, going 12-for-18 in the fourth quarter.

Leyton senior Dylan Brenner led all scorers with 19 points, hitting 8 of 11 free throws in leading the Warriors’ 11-for-17 effort at the line.

In Friday’s girls’ game, Leyton had early leads of 9-4 and 21-11 before the Warriors broke loose of Minatare in the second half.

Leyton (9-6 after a 51-48 home loss Saturday to Crawford) scored 13 straight points to take a 38-15 lead early in the final quarter and finished the game with a 10-2 run.

Despite the loss, which kept Minatare (0-14 after a loss Saturday at Potter-Dix) winless on the season, first-year coach Matt Korkow said he saw improvement in the Indians’ defense against Leyton.

“We focus a lot on the defensive side, and they are starting to understand the system,” Korkow said. “There is not a lot of experience on the team (with no seniors), but it was good to see them go out with the intensity that we have been looking for all season. They just played their hearts out.”

Juniors Kaitlin Craig led Minatare with nine points and Craig pulled down 14 rebounds. Leyton had 11 scorers, paced by senior Katy Ernest and junior Kaitlyn Berner with seven points apiece.

Minatare drops pair at Potter-Dix

On Saturday, the Minatare boys (10-4) fell to Potter-Dix 62-51 after the Indians made just 8 of 17 free throws and Coach Cotton said the team did not play with the same consistency and intensity it did in beating Leyton.

Guerrero ripped four 3-point shots against the Coyotes on his way to scoring 19 points. Longoria followed with 16 points. Cameron Purcell led Potter-Dix (8-7) with 19 points and Bryant Knigge followed with 17.

The Potter-Dix girls had a pair of 15-point scorers in their 59-31 win over Minatare.

Minatare was to play Hemingford on Tuesday, but the winter weather that struck the area forced the games to be postponed to Monday. The Indians will next travel to Harrison on Friday to play Sioux County.

Mitchell sweeps Gordon-Rushville

In Western Trails Conference action Friday night at Gordon, Mitchell swept the host Mustangs. The Tiger boys (7-9) downed Gordon-Rushville 67-35 and the Mitchell girls (13-4) were 52-30 winners.

Bridgeport scores sweep over Bayard

Three Bridgeport boys scored in double figures, leading the Bulldogs to a 58-34 win over Bayard on Friday night.

Jaime Gonzalez scored a game-high 12 points for the Bulldogs (12-3). Jason Amateis finished with 11 points and Quentin Baxter added 10.

Phil Schuller and David Schuler led Bayard (7-10) in scoring with 10 points each.

The Bridgeport girls gained its second win of the season with a 31-27 victory over Bayard. Both of Bridgeport’s wins (2-13) have come against the Tigers (4-12).

Megan Dudden scored 11 points to lead Bridgeport in scoring. Bayard senior Megan Stuart led all scorers in the game with 15 points.

Banner County boys down Morrill

The Banner County boys improved to 5-10 with their second straight victory Saturday, a 50-36 win over host Morrill.

Wildcat senior Ben Hostetler and junior Mike McKown had 13 points each for Banner County (5-10). Morrill fell to 3-13 with the loss.

The Lion girls scored a 50-18 win over Banner County, with freshman Jessica Harvey leading Morrill (10-7) with 12 points. The Wildcats (2-13) had six points each from Ashlynne Hanan and Dalle Rutledge.

With Morrill in the Western Trails Conference Tournament this week, Banner County continues action Friday at Big Springs against South Platte.

WTC Tournament set

The Western Trails Conference Tournament gets under way today (Thursday) with three first-round games on home courts in each division before action moves to WNCC for semifinals Friday and finals Saturday.

In the boys’ bracket, Bridgeport (13-3) drew the No. 1 seed and receives a first-round bye into Friday’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal game. The Bulldogs will play the winner of today’s 7 p.m. game with Mitchell (7-9) at Bayard (7-10).

In the bottom of the boys’ bracket, No. 7 seed Morrill (3-13) travels to No. 2 Hemingford (12-3) at 6 p.m. and No. 3 seed Kimball (13-3) plays host to No. 6 Gordon-Rushville (4-11) at 5:30 p.m. in today’s other first-round games. Those winners play Friday at 7:30 p.m. at WNCC.

In the girls’ bracket, Hemingford (14-2) is the top seed and has a first-round bye into Friday’s 2 p.m. semifinal game at WNCC. The Bobcats will play the winner of today’s 6 p.m. game that has No. 5 Gordon-Rushville (5-11) at No. 4 Morrill (10-7).

In the bottom of the girls’ bracket, No. 3 seed Kimball (11-6) plays host to No. 6 Bayard (4-12) at 7 p.m. and No. 7 Bridgeport (2-14) at No. 2 Mitchell (13-4) at 6:30 p.m. in today’s other first-round games. Those winners play Friday at 3:45 p.m. at WNCC.

Saturday’s finals have the girls’ third-place game at 2 p.m., the boys’ third-place game at 3:45 p.m., the girls’ championship at 5:30 p.m. and the boys’ title game at 7:30 p.m.

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