Bearcat boys play angry early, notch win over Bulldogs
     2015-01-29      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photos by Angie Hernandez/for the Citizen - Gering’s Joses Palomo prepares to pass despite heat from Scottsbluff’s Ashley Jones during the Bulldogs’ host game with Scottsbluff last Saturday. 
With both the Gering and Scottsbluff boys’ basketball teams coming off Friday night losses, either the host Bulldogs or visiting Bearcats were bound to come out in their Twin Cities matchup Saturday and ride national power Wichita State University’s motto to “Play Angry.”

No one had the right to play angry more than Scottsbluff sophomore Landon Walker, whose double-double in the Bearcats’ 65-58 Friday night loss at Sidney went all for naught.

So Saturday night, Walker launched Scottsbluff’s opening-quarter run of 16-4 with a slam dunk and free throw, scoring 10 first-period points and 23 in all, leading the Bearcats to a 66-50 victory.
“We had a long meeting Saturday morning and we realized what we needed to do,” said Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske, whose team (11-4) started out slowly against Sidney in falling behind 21-11.

“Right now for us, it’s not about winning or losing, it’s about how we play. I was pretty happy with how we played. We attacked better on offense and we had more energy on defense.”

Despite the loss, Gering’s fifth straight, Bulldog boys’ coach Randy Plummer said he was pleased that his team maintained about the same margin from the first period for the rest of the game.

“What’s good is that after the first quarter, we got down 16-4, we played them pretty much even,” Plummer said. “Maybe they didn’t try as hard as they could have, knowing they had a lead.”

Or, maybe not.

“We thought we would see either man or zone and we prepared for either,” Siske said of taking on Gering’s defense. “They went with the zone and we attacked it the way we wanted to.”
The Bearcats attacked by scoring the last five points of the second quarter and taking a 31-13 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs outscored Scottsbluff 13-11 in the third period before the Bearcats used a 5-2 run early in the fourth to take a 47-28 advantage down the stretch.
Scottsbluff junior Austin Clarkson gained the double-double honors for the Bearcats against Gering with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Walker added eight rebounds to his 23-point effort, while senior Trent Harris also had 14 points and eight rebounds for Scottsbluff.

The Bearcats made 20 of their 38 shots from inside the 3-point line while hitting just 5 of 19 trey attempts for a game total of 43.8 percent.
“They use their height to their advantage,” Plummer said of the Bearcats, who are off until they play host to Rapid City Stevens on Saturday.

“They took advantage of everything that we couldn’t stop, and they just made us pay for the fact that they have two huge inside guys. They did a good job of getting the ball inside and getting high-percentage shots, and they were smart about who they got the ball to and what shots they took.”
Gering made 8 of 25 3-point attempts and just 11 of 33 shots from inside the arc for 32.7 percent overall.

Junior guard Joses Palomo was 3-for-10 on 3-point attempts and finished as the Bulldogs’ scoring leader with 16 points. Junior forward Austin Hoffman followed with 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Senior Esai Hernandez followed with seven points and seven rebounds.
“We learned something from it, but we also learned that we can at least play with them,” Plummer said.

“What we took from it is we need to learn how to get the ball inside. We’re going to work hard the next couple weeks on making sure we don’t take all 3-point shots, because as it went, we never got the ball inside. When you don’t do that, you don’t get fouled, you don’t go to the free-throw line and you don’t get their guys in foul trouble.”

The Bulldogs (6-7) began a streak of four games in eight days on Tuesday when they played host to Torrington. Gering then travels to Alliance on Friday, plays host to Burns, Wyo., on Saturday and visits Ogallala next Tuesday.

“I think our next four games, we’re pretty equal with the competition and we’re not running into any teams with 6-8 and 6-7, so maybe we’ll have a little better inside ball game,” Plummer said. “We can start working the ball in and get some high-percentage shots inside and teach our guys that there’s more to the game than just letting 3-pointers fly.”

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