Bearcat girls earn home victory over Sidney, Raider boys take out Scottsbluff
     2015-01-29      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo - Time stops as Lady Bearcat senior Aubree Ford (No. 10) defends her territory against Gering’s Kaylee Bohnsack while together with Scottsbluff senior Kyra Willats they watch which way the ball will drop. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – Neither girls’ basketball team from Scottsbluff nor Sidney was shooting free throws particularly well Friday night in their Western Conference game at the Scottsbluff High School gymnasium.

Check that: in the first half, both teams were horrible at the charity stripe. Sidney was 9-for-23 and Scottsbluff was 0-for-4.
When the Bearcats needed to hit their free throws the worst, they did, making 7 of 11 in the fourth quarter to fend off a Red Raider rally and close out the hard-earned, 68-57 victory.

“Oh my goodness, they had to earn every single one of those points,” said Scottsbluff girls’ coach Rachel Larson, whose team (6-6) had seen a 52-40 lead with 6:20 remaining cut to 56-55 with 2:21 left in the game. “That was a really tough game, but our kids played really hard.”

Junior Chesney Walker, who had two fouls at halftime and was playing with four, scored four unanswered points after Sidney’s rally. And junior Aly Camacho added a pair of free throws to build the Bearcats’ lead back to seven at 62-55.

Two free throws by sophomore Annalise Lecher with 1:10 remaining were all the points the Red Raiders (8-6) could muster down the stretch. Two fast-break baskets by Scottsbluff sophomore Rudi Salazar and a pair of free throws by junior Zoe Holscher closed out the scoring and sealed the Bearcats’ win.

“We need to work on our boxing out, but for the most part we played really good defense down the stretch,” Larson said. “We made our free throws, which was awesome. That’s been one of our down points, so I’m just super excited.”

Holscher’s free throws closed out a 28-point night for the guard, who was on fire for the Bearcats in the first quarter. Holscher knocked down 18 points in Scottsbluff’s building a 21-14 lead after the first eight minutes.

But then Holscher, Camacho –who had three fouls in the first quarter – and senior Kyra Willats spent much of the second quarter on the bench with foul problems. By halftime, and when Sidney had closed to within one at 28-27, six Scottsbluff players had been charged with two or three fouls apiece.

“That put them into a tough position going into halftime and it really slowed down the tempo of the game on both sides. It was kind of unfortunate for both teams, but the kids came out in the second half and they committed to moving their feet and playing tough defense. They played really well down the stretch.”

”It was getting really tight there,” Larson said. “I have the utmost respect for Coach (Tyler) Shaw. His kids always play hard and they’re so well-coached. I was really proud of the kids tonight for just being able to persevere when it was difficult.”

Junior Chloey Reifscneider had three 3-pointers on her way to scoring nine points. Her trey was the only other score in the first quarter besides Holscher’s 18-point flurry. Walker finished with 14 points, while senior Aubree Ford made three steals and Camacho had five rebounds.

Lecher led Sidney with 15 points.

At Sidney, in the second of at least three meetings between the state-ranked boys from Scottsbluff and Sidney, the host Red Raiders avenged their earlier loss with a 65-58 win Friday night.
“Sidney attacked us on the offensive end,” said Bearcat boys’ coach Tony Siske, whose team was held to 39.2 percent shooting on the night while Sidney hit 45 percent of its shots. “They moved the ball really well. We didn’t attack very well.”

The Red Raiders, who avenged a 67-54 loss to Scottsbluff in the Western Conference Invitational Tournament semifinals on Dec. 5 at Western Nebraska Community College, improved to 13-2 with the victory.

Sidney took command early with a 7-2 lead that the Red Raiders increased to 21-11 by the end of the first quarter. The Bearcats closed the deficit to one, 33-32, at halftime, but Sidney got back on track in the third quarter, using an 8-2 run to build a 47-41 lead after the third.

Scottsbluff (11-4 after its 66-50 win Saturday at Gering) got to within three points twice in the final minute, but the Red Raiders closed out the win with four straight made free throws.
Cutter O’Connell led four Sidney scorers in double figures with 17 points.

Bearcat sophomore Landon Walker had a double-double with game-highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds. Classmate Dru Kuxhausen followed in scoring with 14 points and senior Trent Harris scored 11.
Scottsbluff will play host to the Red Raiders on Feb. 7. And the teams might cross paths in early March in District B-6 play with state tournament berths on the line.

Next up for the Bearcats is another team of Raiders, when Rapid City Stevens visits the SHS gym for doubleheader action Saturday. The girls’ game is set to tip off at 3:30 p.m. and the boys to start at about 5 p.m.


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