Mitchell girls repeat as WTC champions
     2014-02-13      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - The Western Trails Conference champions are the Mitchell Lady Tigers. The team, front row from left is Kady Lower, Taylor Peters, Aspen Reifschneider; back row, Head Coach Brock Ehler, Assistant. Coach Rod Ehler, Brooke McVay, Ashlynn Einfalt, Felina Blanco, Devin Beaver, Hannah Plasencio, Celeste Cardona, Madi Watson, McKenna Zulkoski and Assistant Coach Marty Gillen. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – Call it a double dose of mission accomplished.

After winning the Western Trails Conference volleyball championship in undefeated fashion and the WTC Tournament in the fall, the Tiger girls who turned their attention to the basketball court set their goal of also sweeping the conference schedule and repeat in winning the WTC Basketball Tournament.

By jumping out to a 16-6 first-quarter lead and turning back Gordon-Rushville’s multiple comeback attempts in Saturday’s championship game, the Tigers led by as many as 13 points in the final period and rolled to a 45-33 victory at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.

“The girls are happy, and they talked about during volleyball about sweeping the conference, and so one of our early goals in basketball was to sweep the conference,” Mitchell girls’ coach Brock Ehler said. “We had a heck of a tough task to beat some of these teams.

“That was three times we had to beat Gordon-Rushville and we had to beat Kimball three times (including a 39-31 semifinal victory Friday), and to be able to do that in a solid basketball conference and be able to win every game, that will go down in history that they came out undefeated in both volleyball and basketball.”

Taylor Peters, the Tigers’ lone senior, led Mitchell offensively with 13 points and junior Aspen Reifschneider added 11 in pacing Mitchell’s victory. Junior Kady Lower added nine points for the Tigers, who were playing the championship game with a thin bench that forced some freshmen into play.

“We were missing our second girl off the bench so we went to two girls, one who had never played varsity, and we had to fight our way through 3-1/2 minutes of that second quarter because of foul trouble,” Ehler said of freshmen Madi Watson, who has played sparingly on varsity, and varsity novice Hannah Plasencio.

Gordon-Rushville cut Mitchell’s lead to 24-21 late in the second quarter before the Tigers increased their margin back to five at halftime and to nine twice in the third period. Freshman Josie Perez led the Mustangs (with a game-high 14 points, but no other teammate had more than five points.

“Those girls did their job, they stepped up and we continued to lead in the first half,” Ehler said. “In the second half, if we played our game and our strategy, then we would be fine. And things worked out all right for us.”

The Tigers (16-4) opened WTC Tournament play Thursday with a 49-39 home win over Bridgeport, a game that was overshadowed by the teams coming together following the contest to share a prayer for Bridgeport rancher Robin Lapaseotes, who was killed in an auto accident last week in Morrill County.

After the No. 7 seeded Bulldogs (2-15) took a 17-11 lead after one quarter, Mitchell outscored Bridgeport 17-7 to take a 28-24 halftime lead. After taking a 40-33 lead after three periods, the Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 9-6 in the final quarter to clinch the win.

Lower led Mitchell in scoring with 18 points, a game-high figure she shared with Bridgeport junior Megan Dudden. Mitchell junior McKenna Zulkoski added 12 for the Tigers, while Bulldog junior Olga Aguilar had 15.

In Friday’s semifinal win over Kimball, Mitchell broke a 16-all halftime deadlock with a 13-8 run in the third quarter and outscored the Longhorns 10-7 in the final period.

Lower led all scorers with 15 points and Peters added 13 for the Tigers, while Kimball (13-7 after taking third place) got 11 points from junior Jessica Hanks.

Mitchell (16-4) completes its regular-season schedule with a home date Friday against Ogallala and a Saturday trip to Sidney before the Tigers begin play in the district C1-12 tournament Tuesday at Alliance.

Mitchell boys take win 3rd place on Fegler’s late basket

After the Mitchell boys suffered a 63-43 loss to Bridgeport in Friday’s semifinals, first-year Tigers coach Jayson Gregory said the players were challenged to redeem themselves in Saturday’s third-place game against Hemingford.

Mitchell led the Bobcats 31-22 early in the third quarter before Hemingford forged a 43-all tie with 4:19 remaining. The Bobcats (13-5) erased a 48-44 deficit and tied the score with 37.8 seconds left on two free throws.

Mitchell was unable to get an early basket in the ensuing possession, but senior Jamie Fegler found an opening in the lane and scored on a one-handed floating layup with 9.2 seconds remaining, giving the Tigers a 50-48 win.

“We just wanted to get it open and get something going,” said Gregory, whose team (10-10) opened tournament play at home Thursday with a 63-54 win over Bayard. “They play great defense and we wanted to get the ball into view of the basket, whether it was inside or out.”

Mitchell’s defense forced Hemingford junior Matthew Wood into an awkward last-second, 3-point shot to preserve the win.

Fegler had 13 points, following Tiger senior Nick Harriger’s game-high, 15-point effort. Senior Bo McVay added 11 points for Mitchell. Hemingford (13-5) had a team-high 14 points from junior Colt Foster.

In Mitchell’s semifinal loss to Bridgeport, Fegler led the Tigers with 18 points and McVay added 15. The Bulldogs, who lost to Kimball in the championship game, got 24 points from senior Jaime Gonzalez.

The Tigers wrap up their home schedule Friday against Ogallala before playing Saturday at Sidney. Mitchell then finishes the regular season Feb. 21 at Kimball before the Tigers begin Sub-District C1-12 action at Alliance starting Feb. 25.

Morrill, Bayard ousted in first-round of WTC

Bayard’s boys got 15 points from senior David Schuler and 13 from Justin Baird, but the Tigers (7-11) were dealt a 63-54, first-round loss to Mitchell.

The Bayard girls also had their tournament limited to one game with a 47-27 loss to Kimball. Senior Megan Stuart led the Tigers (4-13) with 13 points, while sophomore Danika Daum paced the Longhorns with 14.

Morrill’s girls lost a 57-48 home first-round game to Gordon-Rushville, while the Lion boys were defeated 66-27 at Hemingford.

Mustang junior Hali Sauer had a game-high 18 points and Perez added 14, while Morrill ((10-8) got 16 points from senior Kylie Guerue and 13 from freshman Jessica Harvey.

The Morrill girls have three home games this week — Tuesday against Hemingford, Thursday vs. Bridgeport and Saturday against Gordon-Rushville — before the Lions open Sub-District D1-12 play next Tuesday at Mitchell.

The Lion boys have the same home schedule this week and conclude the regular season Feb. 21 at Hyannis. Morrill will begin Sub-District D1-12 action at Mitchell on Feb. 25.

Bayard had a Tuesday doubleheader at Leyton and plays host to Chase County on Friday. The Bayard girls open Sub-District C2-12 play Monday at Sidney, while the Tiger boys round out the regular season Feb. 21 at home against Banner County.

Banner County boys win again

Banner County’s boys are making a late-season charge, winning their fourth straight game Saturday night with a 49-43 win over Sioux County at home in Harrisburg.

The WIldcats were Friday night victors with a 44-37 victory over South Platte at Big Springs.

Junior Tyson Dahlgrin had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats (7-10) against Sioux County, while senior Ben Hostetler followed with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Banner County girls were downed 46-24 to South Platte. Four different Wildcats (2-15) – Paige Cross, Taylor Evans, Ashlynne Hanan and Dalle Rutledge – had six points apiece.
Banner County then lost Saturday to Sioux County, 55-22.

The Wildcats played at home Tuesday against Burns, Wyo., and the girls finish the regular season Friday at Lingle-Fort Laramie, Wyo. The Wildcat boys have a Feb. 21 regular-season finale at Bayard.

The Banner County girls will be in D2-11 sub-district action starting Monday at Gering.

Sioux County sweeps Minatare

Sioux County scored a sweep over Minatare on Friday in Harrison, with the Warrior boys downing the visiting Indians 66-52 and the Sioux County girls taking a 53-16 win over Minatare.

In the boys’ game, Garrett Ellis scored 21 points and Philip Parker added 20 in pacing the Warriors (7-8). Javier Guerrero led Minatare (10-6) with 13 points.

On Monday, Minatare was swept at home by Hemingford. The Bobcat boys took a 71-45 win, and the Hemingford girls rolled past the Indians 66-2.

Minatare will entertain Hyannis for a doubleheader Friday in the girls’ regular-season finale. The Indians (0-16) will then be in Sub-District D2-11 action starting Monday at Gering. The Minatare boys have a home game Feb. 21 against Potter-Dix.

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