Bearcats ousted in first round of state tournament
     2014-03-20      By Philip Eckerberg   
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff junior Trent Harris (No. 23) flies to the hoop for a lay-up with sophomore teammate Dillon Hernandez setting protection underneath, during the Bearcats’ Class B State Tournament first-round game Thursday, March 14, against Omaha Skutt Catholic at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. Hernandez had 14 points and Harris 13 for Scottsbluff, but the Skyhawks and Michael White (No. 14 in white) ended the Bearcats’ season with a 58-49 loss. Skutt then won its next two games to earn the state championship. 
The Scottsbluff Bearcat boys’ basketball team lost to Omaha Skutt Catholic Skyhawks 58-49 in the first round of the Class B state basketball tournament on Thursday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln.

Bluffs entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed with Skutt being No. 4. Entering the contest, the teams were fairly evenly matched in both size and ability.

Skutt won the tip off and took the lead right away as the game opened. Skutt zoomed ahead to a six-point lead, but Scottsbluff junior Trent Harris and sophomore Dillon Hernandez had an answer for that start with a deuce and a trey and the Cats were back in the game at 6-5,

Scottsbluff kept pounding away at Skutt and tied the score at 13 with 2:41 left in the first quarter. The Bearcats did not score again in the first quarter while the Skyhawks earned six more points to end the quarter with a six-point, 19-13 lead.

Scottsbluff kicked its effort into overdrive in the second quarter, tying the game at 23 by the 4:44 mark. The Bearcats ended the second period by outscoring the Skyhawks 20-6. Scottsbluff held a seven-point 33-25 lead over Skutt as the teams headed to the locker room.

Skutt began to chip away at the Bluffs lead in the third frame, out-scoring the Bearcats 15-10.

The ‘Cats entered the final quarter still holding onto a two point, 43-41 lead; however, the momentum had shifted in the Hawks‘ favor.

Skutt slammed Scottsbluff in the fourth period. The Skyhawks‘ defense held the ‘Cats to just six points — with only one basket from the field, a trey by Harris, and three free throws.

The Skutt offense racked up 17 fourth-quarter points, including nine from the free throw line. The time ran out and the Skyhawks earned a nine-point victory over the ‘Cats, eliminating Scottsbluff from further play in the state tournament.

“Skutt’s defensive pressure eventually really got to us,” a disappointed Scottsbluff head coach Tony Siske said.

“(They) forced us into turnovers, forced us away from running our offense, and running the sets that we were trying to run. They really made it difficult for us to get a good look at the basket in the second half.”

After arriving in Lincoln, several Scottsbluff players and assistant coaches were struck with what was reported to be food poisoning, which set in last Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

In postgame comments, Siske said although several of the team members played through their illness, the food poisoning was not a factor in the Bearcats’ on-court performance.

The Bearcats ended the season with a 16-10 record, winning their fourth straight District B-6 title to make the state tournament. With only one senior in reserve guard Beau Lofink graduating this year, Scottsbluff would look to be in good position for making another run to the state tournament next year.

Hernandez hit four first-half 3-pointers on his way to scoring a team-high 14 points, and Harris added one 3-ball and finished with 13 points. The Bearcats hit nine 3-pointers in all, with freshman Dru Kuxhausen scoring all six of his points on two treys.

Skutt outscored Scottsbluff 19-4 at the free-throw line, with the Bearcats getting just six attempts to the Skyhawks’ 29 free shots. Harris was 2-for-2 at the line for Scottsbluff.

Other Bearcat scorers were freshman Landon Walker with seven points, junior Matthew Mickey with five and junior Jackson Hinze with four.

Skutt had three players reach double figures in scoring, led by senior Ryan Bouda with 20 points. Bouda was 8-for-12 at the line in leading the Skyhawks’ free-throw effort. William Wallrapp followed with 13 points, going 5-for-6 at the charity stripe, and sophomore Nick Bouda‘s 12 points included 4 of 8 free throws.

The Skyhawks (22-6) went on to win the Class B state championship on Saturday with a 59-45 win over No. 2 seed Beatrice (22-3) after Skutt took out undefeated Elkhorn South in Friday‘s semifinals, 66-59. Elkhorn South (26-1) took third place with a 69-61 victory over York (23-4).

Terry Gaston contributed to this story.


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