Bearcat boys earn split with Cheyenne teams while girls get swept
     2015-01-22      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff senior Trent Harris dribbles outside the reach of a Cheyenne East defender on Friday at home. The Bearcats split victories over the weekend with the 75-69 loss at home, then turned around to beat Cheyenne Central on the road in a 50-35 victory. 
No matter how good or bad the Scottsbluff basketball teams are, every year a Friday-Saturday home-and-away set of games against Cheyenne Central and East prove tough for the Bearcats.

After letting a tied game Friday against East get away from them at the Scottsbluff High School gym, the Bearcat boys followed the 75-69 loss to the Thunderbirds with a hard-earned, 50-35 win Saturday at Cheyenne Central.

The Scottsbluff girls gave host Central a tough run of things at Cheyenne on Friday before they fell to the Indians 60-48.
Then after giving undefeated East a challenge through the first half of Saturday’s matchup in Scottsbluff, the Bearcats saw their seven-point halftime deficit turn into a 73-38 loss.

“It’s a tough challenge against both teams,” said Scottsbluff boys’ coach Tony Siske, whose team improved to 10-3 with the split.

“Getting a split’s not bad, though we would have liked to go 2-0.”
Scottsbluff had rallied past East 74-69 when the teams played in the Campbell County Camel Classic at Gillette, Wyo., on Dec. 12.
In Friday’s rematch, the visiting Thunderbirds (8-2) led 18-8 after the first quarter and 23-12 before the Bearcats clawed their way back to within two and then trailed 27-23 at halftime.

Scottsbluff opened the third quarter hard and ready and led 43-37 with 3:08 left in the period before the Thunderbirds came back and grabbed a 51-45 lead on a 3-pointer by senior guard Zach McCord.
The Bearcats battled back to forge a 51-all tie, and the game remained tightly played until the 2:15 mark, when McCord scored on his third shot in the lane – a play Siske said turned the Scottsbluff players into spectators.

McCord’s three-point play gave East a 67-64 lead and began a game-closing 11-5 run for the T-Birds.
“It came down to rebounding,” said Siske, whose team was out-boarded by East offensively 15-7.

McCord finished with 24 points and junior forward Elijah Oliver burned the Bearcats for 30 points, including his hitting 11 of 13 free throws.
Scottsbluff senior Trent Harris matched Oliver’s 30 points as the co-leader in scoring, while sophomore Landon Walker followed with 17 points and classmate Dru Kuxhausen added 13 with eight perfectly hit free throws.

“We needed to put that one behind us and go compete against Central, and we did that for the most part,” said Siske, whose team hit the court Saturday against the Indians’ half-court, slow-down attack.
After leading just 14-13 at halftime, the Bearcats took a 27-23 lead into the fourth quarter and broke the tightly played game open to finish strong with the 15-point victory.

“Bouncing back after a tough loss, going on the road and coming out with a win,” Siske said, was important for the Bearcats.
Harris again led Scottsbluff in scoring, hitting 17 points. Junior Austin Clarkson, shut out against East, rebounded with 12 points and also had eight rebounds. Walker, who had seven points, led the Bearcats on the boards with nine and had four blocked shots.

In the Scottsbluff girls’ game Friday at Central, junior Aly Camacho
led the Bearcats with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

However, the host Indians (5-1) used a 22-11 run in the second quarter to grab a 33-26 halftime lead. Central led by eight after three quarters and put the game away at the free-throw line.
“I think that we were definitely in the position to win the game,” Scottsbluff girls’ coach Rachel Larson said of Friday’s contest. “We had it to eight at one point but then we had to start fouling because they were really patient in executing their offense and controlling the ball, so we had to start fouling.”

Junior Zoe Holscher followed Camacho in scoring with nine points and junior Chesney Walker added eight.
On Saturday, East (9-0) led 21-11 late in the first quarter before the Bearcats dug in and pulled within two at 27-25 with 2:45 left in the first half. The Thunderbirds then went on a 6-0 run and held a 36-29 halftime lead.

“The first half (Saturday), I thought we played so much better than we did last year,” Larson said in referring to the Bearcats’ 68-15 loss at East. “I thought we handled the pressure for the most part. We were definitely intense, but then the second half we just came out flat and that third quarter really killed us.”

The Thunderbirds took command with a quick 8-2 run to start the second half and finished the third quarter by outscoring the Bearcats 17-0 in taking a 61-33 lead into the final eight minutes.
“They probably got a pretty good talking-to at halftime also, and we just came out flat,” Larson said. “They’re definitely a very good team.”

East’s balanced attack was led by sophomore Cierra Stellern’s 13 points, while senior Morgan Sanders and sophomore Jesse Erickson followed with 12 apiece. Four other Thunderbirds had at least eight points apiece.

Scottsbluff got a team-high 12 points from Walker, with Holscher following with seven. After Camacho led the Bearcats against Central, she fell into early foul trouble against East and was shut out of the scoring column.

“I think we played really hard both nights,” said Larson, whose team slipped to 5-6 with the losses.
Scottsbluff will be in District B-6 action this weekend, with the Bearcat boys traveling to Sidney on Friday and then to Gering on Saturday.

Sidney is 12-2 after the Red Raiders scored back-to-back wins last weekend, 66-41 at home over Ogallala on Friday and 80-64 on Saturday at Lexington.

The Bearcats then cross the North Platte River for the Twin Cities arch-rivalry matchup Saturday against Gering. The Bulldogs are 6-5 and on a three-game losing streak heading into their Friday home game against Chadron.

Saturday’s varsity game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
“We just need to continue to get better at what we’re doing and obviously how we’re going to attack both teams this weekend,” Siske said.

The Scottsbluff girls play host to Sidney on Friday at 7 p.m. The Red Raiders bring a 9-5 record to Scottsbluff after their 47-43 win Saturday at Lexington and 52-47 victory Friday at home over Ogallala.
“This weekend matters,” Larson said of playing the Cheyenne schools, “but I’m more worried about our district. Whatever we need to figure out, we’ll figure out by Friday.

“We know they’re going to be tough and are going to give us all they’ve got. I’m just hoping it’s going to be a good game. They’ve been our rabbit from the get-go, so if we can catch them, I know we’ll be in a good spot.”

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