District B-6 tournament races wide open
     2014-02-27      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Gering senior Christian Groskopf flies to the hoop, with Bearcat defenders junior Trent Harris (No. 23), sophomores Dillon Hernandez (No. 24) and Austin Clarkson eyeing the play during the exciting battle of the cats and dogs at Gering on Friday. See full story on B2. 
Gering and Scottsbluff basketball coaches are in agreement about both divisions of the District B-6 Basketball Tournament, which is this week for girls and next week for boys at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.

Anybody, on any given night, can win.

The Gering girls are the No. 2 seed at 13-11 and play McCook (11-12) in the second semifinal today (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m. The first semifinal, at 5 p.m., is between No. 1 seed Sidney (15-7) against No. 4 seed Alliance (5-16), which scored a 59-53, first-round victory Tuesday night over No. 5 Scottsbluff (2-20).

The district championship game will be Friday at 6:30 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Class B State Tournament on March 6-8 in Lincoln.

The boys' bracket, released Tuesday morning, has Gering (18-5) as the No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs will play in Monday's 5 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Saturday's first-round game matching No. 4 Alliance (7-13) and McCook (10-14). That game, moved to North Platte High School for travel purposes, will tip off at 2 p.m.

Scottsbluff (14-9) drew the No. 3 seed and will play No. 2 seed Sidney (16-6) at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The semifinal winners will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for the district championship and berth into the Class B State Tournament on March 13-15 in Lincoln.

Fourth-year Gering girls’ coach Adam Freeburg, who is enjoying his first winning season as the Bulldogs’ leader, said he hopes his team can carry some momentum from its 59-52, regular-season finale victory Friday night at home against Scottsbluff.

“I was excited for our seniors to play in front of that atmosphere,” Freeburg said. “Getting that win was huge for us, and I think that will give us some momentum going into this week.”

Gering owns a 47-45 victory at McCook from Feb. 14 in the East-West Shootout.

“It was a hard-fought battle all the way through from start to finish, so I would expect the same Thursday,” Freeburg said of playing the Bison again. “Coach Ellis will have them ready to go against, that’s for sure, and we’re going to do our best to be ready for them.”

With a win, the Bulldogs would play Friday night with little time to adjust to the opponent.

“We mostly focus on what we need to do to get better,” Freeburg said in preparing his team for this week. “We will talk some about what they (the Bison) do and make some adjustments on our defense and on our offense on what they do.

“But for the most part, we concentrate on what we do and we just try to get better at what we do.”

“I think it’s going to be fun for all five schools, really,” Freeburg said. “I think it’s great for all five schools involved and all the kids involved, and I think if any one of those five teams gets hot over this week, they can be the team representing us down at the state tournament.

“It seems like everybody has beaten everybody. We got beat by Sidney, then McCook beat Sidney and then we beat Mc Cook, so it’s up for grabs and I think it should be fun for all five schools involved.”

Sidney owns wins over Gering in both their meetings, 39-31 at Sidney on Jan. 10 and 52-45 at Gering on Feb. 7. The Bulldogs won at Alliance 40-30 on Dec. 13 and 48-39 in overtime at Gering on Jan. 31.

Gering boys’ coach Randy Plummer said having the No. 1 seed is good for his team, which has won eight straight games, but added that it offers no guarantees for success in the district tournament.

“It’s a lot easier road to go through when you’re No. 1,” Plummer said. “We still have a tough job ahead of us. We finished 18-5, which is a very, very good regular season, but the records are all now zero-and-zero and we have to play the winner between McCook and Alliance.”

Gering had a 64-48 win at Alliance on Dec. 13 and a 64-56 win in the Jan. 31 rematch at Gering. The bulldogs defeated McCook 65-39 at home on Feb. 14 in the East-West Shootout.

Gering is 2-1 against Scottsbluff, with both wins – including Friday’s 73-68 victory – coming on the Bulldogs’ home court.

Gering split its two games with Sidney, with the Red Raiders winning at home 75-64 on Jan. 10 and the Bulldogs edging Sidney 71-69 at home Feb. 7 on junior Joses Palomo’s buzzer-beating 3-point basket.

“Between Sidney, Scottsbluff and us, we’ve beaten each other and been beaten by each other several times, and we still have to play either McCook or Alliance, and we beat Alliance twice and once for McCook, and that makes it even harder to beat them another time,” Plummer said.

“It becomes harder every time you play them, because they play that much harder to beat you. Your kids sometimes let up a little bit. These guys realize that you can’t coast through any games, and I think we have proven the last seven or eight games that we can play with anybody. The pressure has been on us and we have responded with the pressure on us, and so I am expecting the same thing next week.”

Scottsbluff avenged a 67-44, season-opening loss at Gering on Dec. 5 with a 65-52 home win Jan. 25. The Bearcats have lost two close games to Sidney, 66-62 on the road Feb. 1 and 56-54 at Scottsbluff seven days later.

“We hope it’s a game that goes right down to the wire, just like the last two have,” Scottsbluff boys’ coach Tony Siske said.

In looking at other possible championship opposition for the Bearcats, they won 75-47 at home Jan. 10 and 83-63 at Alliance on Feb. 7. Scottsbluff routed McCook 78-47 on Feb. 13 at home in the East-West Shootout.

“Any one of the five can win games,” Siske said. “Every team has some very special players.”

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