Bearcats get good warmups against Longhorns Scottsbluff opens season against Mitchell tonight in conference tourney
     2014-12-04      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff sophomore Dru Kuxhausen goes in for a layup while Kimball opponents Ethan Land and Trent Rutlege eye the play during Monday evening’s scrimmage at Scottsbluff. The Bearcats begin regular season play this Thursday at home. 
Scottsbluff’s girls broke the 50-point barrier just four times last basketball season and finished just 2-20 in Rachel Larson’s first season as the Bearcats’ coach.
In their Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame Jamboree game Monday night against Kimball, Scottsbluff had the 50-point mark reached early in the fourth quarter as part of a 10-0 run that bridged the third and fourth periods.

After the Bearcats opened the fourth quarter with seven unanswered points, taking a 52-41 lead with 6:34 remaining, Larson said the Bearcats basically ran out of steam in falling to the Longhorns 61-60 at the Scottsbluff High School gymnasium.
“Last year we didn’t score a whole heck of a lot,” said Larson, whose team had a season-high 74 points in a 27-point win over Alliance.

“I was pretty impressed with how we played defense and the pressure we gave for about three quarters,” Larson said of Monday’s effort from the Bearcats. “To play that style of play, we just have to be in better shape and I think the kids understand that.”

Although Kimball still trailed 58-51 with 3:41 to play, the Longhorns chipped away at tiring Scottsbluff. The Bearcats clinged to a 60-59 lead after Kimball junior Danika Daum scored with 1:32 remaining.

The Longhorns then took the lead on a midcourt steal by Alex Reader, who drove unguarded to the bucket and gave Kimball its first lead since the second quarter with 29 seconds remaining.
Reader forced two more steals afterward, the last with six seconds left while Scottsbluff was trying to find an opening in its half-court offense for a go-ahead or winning basket.

“I think we just ran out of gas and they had a couple big plays go their way,” Larson said. “They kept fighting and played with a lot of composure and just kept fighting until the end. Unfortunately we kind of lost some of the aggressiveness we had, they went on a run and we weren’t able to recover.”
Junior Zoe Holscher led the Bearcats with 19 points and classmate Aly Camacho followed with 11. Daum led all scorers with 21 points and Jessica Hanks added 13 for the Longhorns.

The Scottsbluff boys, behind the early sharpshooting of sophomore Dru Kuxhausen and senior newcomer Ashley Jones, hit the 50-point mark by halftime of their 76-38 runaway win over Kimball.
While many might have thought the Bearcats looked to have an easy time with the outmanned Longhorns, Scottsbluff boys’ coach Tony Siske said the Bearcats still have a lot of work to reach the level that has led them to the state tournament four straight years and five of the past six seasons.

“I thought at times we let up defensively and we didn’t rotate very well,” Siske said. “Offensively, I think we needed to run it through a little bit more sometimes and make their defense work a little bit. There were times we worked really hard defensively, but it’s got to be consistent and the entire time.”
Kuxhausen scored the first basket of each quarter, including starting the first three periods with a 3-pointer. Kuxhausen finished the night with six treys and a game-high 26 points.

“He can shoot the ball and our guys did a good job finding him,” Siske said of Kuxhausen. “They knew he had the hot hand and particularly looked for him and found him.”

Jones, a transfer from Iowa, followed with 15 points after he scored nine in the first half. Jones ended the half with a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining in giving the Bearcats a commanding 50-22 halftime lead.
Ten Bearcats scored in the contest, with sophomore Landon Walker scoring eight points and junior Austin Clarkson adding seven, including three on a second-quarter 3-ball. Senior Trent Harris had all six of his points netted in the first half.

Scottsbluff, which finished 16-10 last season and lost just one senior off that team, begins regular-season play in the opening Western Conference Invitational Tournament, which begins today (Thursday) and continues through Saturday.
The Bearcats open at the SHS gym against Mitchell, with the girls’ game starting at 5:30 p.m. and the boys’ contest tipping off at about 7 p.m.

The Bearcats and Tigers will match up against the respective winners and losers from Thursday’s games between Omaha Gross Catholic and host Alliance, with the winners playing at Western Nebraska Community College and the losers in consolation action at Scottsbluff High.

Friday’s girls’ games at both sites will start at about 5 p.m. and the boys’ contests will begin at about 6:30 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule will begin at 10 a.m. at both sites. The seventh-place games will be at the SHS gym, and the fifth-place games will kick off a six-game schedule at WNCC. The girls’ championship game is scheduled for 5 p.m., and the boys’ title contest is set for a 6:45 p.m. start.

For the Scottsbluff girls, Larson said Mitchell will be a viable first-round opponent after the Tigers went 18-6 last season under Coach Brock Ehler.
“They’re definitely going to come after us and play tough,” Larson said. “It’s definitely going to be a fight and we will have to be ready to play for sure.”
The Mitchell boys were 10-13 a year ago under Jayson Gregory, and Siske expects the Tigers to be a feisty opponent tonight.

“They’ll play a zone more than likely, and we’ll have to execute against it,” Siske said.

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