Bearcat boys drill McCook, Lexington in Shootout
     2014-02-20      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Bearcat senior Matthew Mickey (No. 20) hustles down court with McCook’s Caleb Sheets (No. 43) and Jacob Vogel (No. 51) following behind during the weekend’s East/West Shootout action. The Bearcats clobbered McCook 78-47.  
SCOTTSBLUFF — Scottsbluff boys' basketball coach Tony Siske has long said he likes the East-West Shootout and the three games in as many days that the event provides with the Class B postseason tournaments starting just two weeks afterward.

Siske and the Bearcats really enjoyed the start of this year's Shootout on Thursday, when Scottsbluff opened its game against McCook with a 20-0 run and rolled past the Bison 78-47 at the Scottsbluff High School gymnasium.

The Bearcats then found themselves in a tussle against North Platte on Friday, trailing by eight points with 32 seconds remaining and having a chance after pulling within three. But the Class A Bulldogs held on for the 53-50 win.

Then on Saturday, Scottsbluff ran roughshod over Lexington, riding a 28-10 first-quarter start to a 78-35 victory.

While Siske said he ultimately would have preferred the Bearcats finish the weekend undefeated, he said he liked what he saw in their two decisive wins and close loss.

"It was one that we could have won, but we couldn't pull it out at the end," Siske said of the close loss to North Platte (10-12). "We battled hard but just came out on the short end of the stick. North Platte was the best of the three teams we played, without a doubt."

In that game, Scottsbluff opened with an 11-8 run that included two 3-pointers from junior Trent Harris and another trey from sophomore Dillon Hernandez. North Platte opened the second quarter with five unanswered points and rode an 11-2 run for a 24-17 halftime lead.

The Bearcats had a 7-0 run to begin the third quarter and knot the score at 24-all and the teams were deadlocked at 33 each entering the final period.

The Bulldogs built a 50-42 lead with 32 seconds remaining and used nine free throws down the stretch to fend off Scottsbluff's comeback bid.

Harris scored a team-high 14 points for the Bearcats, and Hernandez finished with four 3-pointers for 12 points. Freshman Landon Walker added 10 points and had five rebounds, while sophomore Austin Clarkson had eight points and eight rebounds.

Kade Erickson led all scorers and three North Platte players in double figures with 16 points. Drew Callaghan had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Shane Mauch scored 12 points.

The Bearcats started the weekend with a 78-47 win against McCook in fast and furious fashion, scoring the game's first 20 points on their way to a 27-6 lead after the first quarter.

"I was just hoping to keep it going, and for the most part, they did a good job of keeping up the intensity," Siske said of the Bearcats' quick start.

Freshman Dru Kuxhausen then scored 13 of his 16 first-half points in the second quarter, and Scottsbluff's lead grew to 45-23 by halftime.

"We got him some good looks early and he knocked them down, and he even missed some shots where he had good looks and I thought he would make," Siske said of Kuxhausen, who nailed four 3-pointers in earning all his points by halftime.

Harris led Scottsbluff with 17 points with six rebounds, a category the Bearcats led 46-26 and were paced by Clarkson's 10 boards. Twelve Bearcats scored in the game, and that did not include junior guard Jackson Hinze, who made up for his scoreless outing with seven assists.

Mack Alspaugh led McCook with 16 points and six rebounds, while Wesley Burkert added 10 points.

Scottsbluff rebounded from the loss to North Platte with another big start Saturday against Lexington (9-14) and turned its 18-point, first-quarter lead into a 49-22 halftime advantage.

"We played well against Lexington," Siske said. "We shot the ball well, moved the ball well and defensively we were pretty solid."

Kuxhausen led the Bearcats with 14 points, with Hernandez and Walker adding 13 apiece. Kuxhausen, Hernandez and senior Beau Lofink had three 3-pointers each and Hinze added two more in Scottsbluff's 13-trey effort.

Scottsbluff held the Minutemen's leading scorer, Marco Muniz, to seven points.

The Bearcats close out the regular season with a visit to Gering on Friday for a 7 p.m. game. Scottsbluff then entertains Rapid City Central in a 5 p.m. contest Saturday.

The boys' District B-6 bracket will be released Tuesday and play will begin Saturday, March 1. As of Monday, Gering(17-5), Scottsbluff (13-8) and Sidney (15-6) were Nos. 5 through 7 in the Class B power points.

McCook (10-12) and Alliance (7-12) look to be locks for the fourth and fifth seeds, which would result in their first-round game being played at a site between the two cities. Action then shifts to Western Nebraska Community College's Cougar Palace for the March 3 semifinals and March 4 championship game.

"I'm not even worried about it at this point," Siske said of the district seeding battle. "We're just going to take each game as they come and try to win each game."

Bearcat girls look for strong finish

The Scottsbluff girls struggled on their three-game Shootout road swing, falling to McCook 60-28, to North Platte 76-35 and to Lexington 42-29.

The losses left the Bearcats at 2-17 on the season and in the No. 5 and lowest seed for the District B-6 Tournament. Scottsbluff will play Alliance (4-15) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at WNCC's Cougar Palace.

Before district play begins, however, the Bearcats will complete the regular season with a visit to Gering on Friday for a 5:30 p.m. game and Saturday at home against Rapid City Central, starting at 3:30 p.m.

Scottsbluff and Alliance have split their two meetings, with the Bulldogs winning 56-44 at Alliance on Jan. 10 and the Bearcats avenging the loss with a 74-48 home win on Feb. 7.

"We've split with them, so if our kids play the way that they're capable of, it should be a good outcome for us," first-year Scottsbluff coach Rachel Larson said.

"But I know that Alliance is going to make the adjustments that they need to and do what they can to put themselves in a position to win. It will probably come down to who is executing better on offense."
Despite the Bearcats' record, Larson said her sophomore-dominated team has grown together and she likes the prospectus for the future.

"We have really good team chemistry and the kids get along really well, and that's always a good thing," Larson said. "The basketball part will come. We're just young and inexperienced, and it will come.

"I have just really enjoyed working with the kids this year, even though it hasn't always gone in our favor. I have really enjoyed them, and I just know that our future is going to be bright."

In its loss to McCook (11-11), Scottsbluff trailed 14-7 after the first quarter and was down 31-14 at halftime.

Sophomore Chesney Walker led the Bearcats with 13 points, while classmate Chloey Reifschneider followed with five points that included one 3-pointer.

Sophomore Zoe Holscher suffered a turned ankle in the game and did not play the rest of the weekend.

"We'll see how she is going to do this week," Larson said. "We don't want any long-term damage or anything like that, so if she has to sit out the rest of the year, that's what we'll do."

On Friday, North Platte (now 13-9) jumped out to a 29-8, first-quarter lead and led 55-19 at halftime. The Bulldogs had three players reach double figures in scoring, led by Kaitlynn Harvey's 16 points. Walker led Scottsbluff with seven points.

On Saturday, The Bearcats fell behind Lexington 14-7 after one quarter and trailed 24-11 at halftime, a margin the Minutemaids (8-15) maintained at game's end.


Sophomore Aly Camacho led Scottsbluff with 10 points, while classmate Kelli Wentz scored six points while stepping into the point guard spot in Holscher's absence.

"More than anything, it's good to play a Class A school like North Platte because the competition is really good," Larson said.

"As far as Lexington is concerned, I thought our guard play stepped up pretty well especially when Zoe was out. I thought our other guards stepped up and handled that role that they're not normally accustomed to."

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