Minatare boys overcome 4th-quarter deficits to reach sub-district final: Indians hold on to defeat Garden County, play Leyton on Thursday; all other area teams eliminated
     2014-02-27      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/Sheila Weber Photography - Minatare’s Yovan Perez (No. 4) fights his way to the hoop as teammate Dominic Longoria (No. 42) preps for the rebound while Garden County defenders eye the play. The Indians defeated Garden County Tuesday night 44-42 to advance into tonight’s 7 p.m. sub-district championship game at Gering High School. 
Survive and advance. Live for another day.

Such are phrases associated with any type of postseason playoff situation.

They were exemplified very well Tuesday night in the second semifinal game of the Sub-District D2-11 boys' basketball tournament.

No. 2 seed Minatare overcame a five-point deficit to No. 3 Garden County to overtake the Oshkosh-based Eagles midway through the fourth quarter, only to give the lead back to the Eagles briefly before the Indians held on to take a 44-42 win at the Gering High School gymnasium.

With the win, Minatare (12-7) advances to Thursday's 7 p.m. sub-district championship game, The Indians will play top-seeded Leyton (16-5), which eliminated No. 4 seed Banner County 56-37 in Tuesday's first semifinal.

Thursday's winner earns a spot in the District D2-6 playoff game on Tuesday.

"That's the name of the game, isn't it?" Minatare coach Kyle Cotton said of the Indians' comeback victory to make the sub-district finals.

The game started with Garden County (10-9) taking a 12-7 first-quarter lead and the Eagles hanging on for a 14-12 halftime advantage.

"In the first half, we did not play very well," Cotton said. "We came out really tight, had 17 turnovers I believe and scored just 12 points.

"At the beginning of the third quarter, I felt like we were tight so we started switching things up, got going a little on defense and I felt that really keyed us."

The Indians doubled their first-half scoring output in the third quarter but trailed Garden County by five, 29-24.

Minatare scored four free throws and added a basket by sophomore Dominic Longoria to race past the Eagles in the first 1:08 of the fourth quarter for a 30-29 lead.

The Indians extended their lead to 35-29 before Garden County responded with nine unanswered points to take a 38-35 advantage with 2:33 remaining.

"I thought both of our defenses played really well," Cotton said. "I've got to give them a lot of credit. They did a lot of things well on defense. When we got inside, we missed layups they contested.

"I felt our defensive intensity really changed the game for us. We got out of our pressure a little bit, got some turnovers and then we made some big shots. We were up and they made some good plays, and then they got up and we made some big plays, and that's what it takes."

After Longoria converted a three-point, game-tying play, the Eagles again built a three-point lead at 41-38 with 1:08 left to play.

Junior Juan Garfio knocked in a game-tying 3-pointer for the Indians with 39 seconds remaining, and a Longoria foul with 28.9 seconds left put Garden County senior Anselmo Cano at the free-throw line, where he made just the first shot but enough to put the Eagles ahead 42-41.

After a loose ball went out underneath the Minatare basket, Garfio grabbed the in-bounds pass from junior Chance McAllister and laid in the go-ahead bucket with 15 seconds remaining and a 43-42 Indians lead.

After the Eagles missed on an in-bounds play following a timeout, Minatare sophomore Yovan Perez was fouled on the rebound and hit the second of two free throws for a two-point lead with 5.7 seconds left.

Eagles sophomore Matthew McCarthy tried a 10-foot shot as time was running out, but he had the attempt blocked by Longoria to seal the Indians' victory.

For the fourth quarter, Minatare made 9 of 11 free-throw attempts and was 17-for-25 for the game.

Longoria scored 12 second-half points to finish with a game-high 14 that included four perfect free-throw attempts. Perez followed with 13 points and hit 7 of 10 charity shots.

Junior Ryan Smith led Garden County with 10 points.

Thursday's game will be a rematch of a hard-fought, 61-54 Minatare home victory from Jan. 31.

"They're going to come out and play hard, like they always do," Cotton said of the Warriors. "We're going to have to play a lot better, be more efficient on offense. We'll have to play with the same defensive intensity.

"It's going to be fun. It's a chance to go to the district final, and I think we will be up too."

In Leyton's win over Banner County, the Warriors took command with an 18-9 run in the first quarter and led the Wildcats 33-24 after a deadlocked second period with 15 points scored by each team. Leyton then outscored Banner County 9-4 in the third quarter and 14-9 in the fourth to take the victory.

Junior Tyson Dahlgrin led the Wildcats (8-13) with 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Senior Ben Hostetler and junior Mike McKown finished with nine points apiece and Hostetler made three steals in his Banner County finale.

Leyton had just four scorers, but three were in double figures. Senior Brennen Cruise led the Warriors with a game-high 22 points, while senior Dylan Brenner followed with 17 points and junior Cody McKay added 12.

Banner County had advanced into Tuesday's Sub-District D2-11 semifinal with a 51-39 win Monday over winless South Platte. The Wildcats got a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds from Dahlgrin and a game-high 18 points from Hostetler.

Banner County led 16-10 after one quarter and broke the game open with a 10-1 run in the second quarter for a 27-11 halftime lead. The Blue Knights outscored the Wildcats 18-11 in the fourth quarter but was left on the short end for the 16th time this season.

Sub-District C2-12 at Sidney

In Sub-District C2-12 first-round action Monday at Sidney, No. 4 seed Bayard won 45-33 over No. 5 Perkins County (3-19). The Tigers jumped out to a 17-6 lead after one quarter and led 35-20 at halftime.

Junior Justin Baird led the Tigers with 10 points and had nine rebounds in the victory. Senior David Schuler pulled down 11 rebounds and dished four assists, while senior Zac Rice made four steals.

Bayard, however, was unable to keep its winning ways going in Tuesday night's semifinals, falling to No. 1 seed Kimball 53-41.

The Tigers held a 13-9 lead after one quarter before the Longhorns bolted ahead in the second for a 25-19 halftime lead. Kimball increased the lead to 39-28 after three quarters.

Schuler led Bayard (9-14) with 11 points and Baird followed with eight. The Longhorns got a 23-point, 13-rebound effort from senior Mike Daum, while senior Jake Reader followed with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Kimball (20-3) advances to Thursday's 7 p.m. sub-district championship game at Sidney against No. 2 seed Bridgeport (18-4), which advanced with a 72-53 semifinal win over Dundy-County-Stratton (15-9).

The sub-district final will be a rematch of the Western Trails Conference Tournament championship game, which Kimball won 49-38. The teams split their other two meetings, each winning at home.

Thursday's winner advances to the District C2-6 playoff game on Monday.

Sub-District D1-12 at Mitchell

No. 1 Hemingford (17-6) dominated No. 4 Morrill (4-18) early and coasted to a 50-21 semifinal victory in D1-12 sub-district action Tuesday night at Mitchell High School.

Hemingford jumped out to a 24-5 lead after first quarter and shut out the Lions in the second period to take a 42-5 lead into halftime. The Bobcats extended their lead to 58-13 after three quarter.

The Bobcats (17-6) will play No. 2 seed Potter-Dix (10-11) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Mitchell for the sub-district championship and a berth in the District D1-6 playoff game on Tuesday.

Potter-Dix advanced to the sub-district final with a 69-56 win over No. 3 seed Creek Valley (5-13).

Sub-District C1-12 at Alliance

The No. 3 seed Valentine Badgers ended second-seeded Mitchell's season Tuesday night with a 59-45 semifinal win at the Sub-District C1-12 boys' tournament in Alliance.

The loss ended the Tigers' season at 10-13.

Valentine (11-9) moves into Thursday's sub-district championship game at 6:30 p.m. at Alliance against No. 1 seed Chadron (15-7). The Cardinals eliminated No. 4 seed Gordon-Rushville (5-15) with a 59-28 romp.

The sub-district winner earns a berth in Monday's District C1-6 playoff game.

Mitchell girls cut short in sub-district final

The Mitchell girls had high hopes when they got a second chance to face No. 1 sub-district seed Chadron in the Sub-District C1-12 final Thursday night in Alliance.

However, the Tigers’ hopes were dashed early against the Cardinals, who rolled to a 71-31 victory and advanced to the District C1-6 final. That game, with a berth to the Class C-1 State Tournament at stake, matches Chadron (19-4) against Hershey (23-3) on Friday in Sidney.

Junior Kady Lower scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Tigers (18-6), but Mitchell coach Brock Ehler said the team just struggled overall against the Cardinals.

Nevertheless, Ehler said he was proud of the Tigers’ 18-win achievement and second straight Western Trails Conference Tournament title.

The Tigers were looking for their first state tournament berth since 1995, when Mitchell went to state for the third time in four years.

“With 18 wins, the girls feel good because they haven’t done it in a lot of years,” Ehler said after the Tigers’ 40-35 sub-district semifinal win over Valentine last Tuesday. “The girls are excited and they’re competitors.”

The 18 wins fell just one win shy of the Tiger girls' school record set in 1994-95.

“That leaves us a solid goal for next year,” Ehler said of reaching the 19-win mark.

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