Bearcat boys crank up offense, take down Raiders
     2015-02-05      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Jim Headley/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff senior Trent Harris fires a shot during the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Basketball Tournament on Jan. 2 in Hastings. Harris and the Bearcats will be at home for two games this week, on Friday against Alliance and on Saturday against Sidney. Scottsbluff will be looking to avenge a loss in Saturday’s game to Sidney from Jan. 23, when the Red Raiders held off Scottsbluff for a 65-58 victory at Sidney in a battle of the state-ranked teams. The Bearcats will look to complete a sweep of Alliance on Friday after Scottsbluff downed the host Bulldogs 60-40 on Jan. 9. The Bearcats enter the weekend with a 12-4 record after they defeated Rapid City Stevens at home Saturday night, 66-44. 
SCOTTSBLUFF — Despite the Scottsbluff boys’ basketball team’s 12-4 success thus far this season, Bearcat coach Tony Siske has long been concerned about his players’ offensive execution.

After Scottsbluff turned a three-point halftime deficit into a 66-44 victory Saturday night over Rapid City Stevens with a second half that fueled an already large Winter Royalty crowd, Siske just may have seen the Bearcats’ turning point on offense.

“If we can play like we did in the second half, we’re going to be tough to beat,” said Siske, whose team shot 64 percent in the second 16 minutes.

Scottsbluff thus turned the game – dominated in the first half by Raider senior center Sam McCloud, who had 16 of Stevens’ 26 first-half points – in its favor by ending the third quarter on an 11-2 run that gave the Bearcats a 48-35 advantage by quarter’s end.

“Offensively, we just need something to get us going and hopefully this is it, because there was a lot better flow to the game in the second half,” Siske said. “We held them to single digits in three quarters.”

And when McCloud started committing fouls – his second coming in the first 10 seconds of the fourth frame, eventually committing a technical by hanging on the rim and fouling out with 3:52 remaining – the Raiders had lost their edge.

McCloud finished with 27 points, but the rest of the Raiders’ starting lineup was held to just four points.

“They have a bunch of other guys who can shoot it,” Siske said. “We did a lot of switching and we were worried about mismatches.
“We tried to keep him (McCloud) on the perimeter as much as we could, and we thought by putting Austin (Clarkson, the Bearcats’ 6-foot-8 junior post man) on him they would try to exploit that and draw us away from the basket. They did and Austin did a good job.”

Early in the fourth period, senior guard Ashley Jones – whose 3-pointer from about 40 feet ended the first quarter and gave Scottsbluff a 9-7 lead – had a steal that he turned into a basket and drew a foul, with the ensuing free throw ending the Bearcats’ 10-0 run that bridged from the third period for a 53-35 advantage.

“I thought Ashley gave us a spark,” Siske said of Jones, who sank two more free throws afterward and finished with eight points. “He got the long 3, and then the steal, layup and free throw. I thought that was a big play.”

While just 4 of 17 from 3-point range for the game, the Bearcats kept Stevens from building on a 29-25 lead early in the third period by holding the Raiders to just 31 percent shooting on the night.
“I thought we were close to breaking that game open earlier,” Siske said. “We had some good looks, but we just didn’t knock them down. That’s how it goes sometimes. “The second half was a really good half. I’m happy with the way we played.”

Sophomore post Landon Walker led Scottsbluff offensively with 19 points, while classmate Dru Kuxhausen hit two 3 –pointers and was 4-for-5 on free throws in collecting 16 points. Senior guard Trent Harris followed with 11 points.

The Bearcats held a 38-23 advantage in rebounds, with Harris and Walker grabbing a game-high nine boards apiece.

Stevens girls roll past Scottsbluff

The Scottsbluff girls were the definite underdogs against 9-3 Stevens, but the Bearcats stood toe-to-toe with the Raiders for much of the first half before they took over in the second half and ran away with a 75-46 victory.

“We need to be a unit and just stick together,” said Scottsbluff girls’ coach Rachel Larson, whose team fell to 5-8 with the setback. “The first half we did a really good job and then in the second half, we just came out flat and they more fired up. So we just have to be more consistent.”

The Bearcats stuck with the Raiders in the first quarter, and junior Zoe Holscher’s 3-pointer from about 27 feet out tied the score at 13 heading into the second period.

After Stevens had opened the second quarter with an 11-2 run and still led by nine with 2:42 before halftime, Scottsbluff closed to within three when Holscher ripped another 3-pointer with seven seconds to go.

But the Raiders kept playing, and sophomore Abby Grismer hit a trey at the buzzer, giving Stevens a 37-31 halftime lead.
”We hit that 3 at the end of the half to cut it to three, and then we just kind of gave up on the play,” Larson said. “Then they nailed that 3 to put it to six, so that’s one thing we just have to be better about is not taking off any plays.

“Together, we’re really good and when we play together, good things happen,” Larson added. “We don’t have one of those standout individual players who can carry the entire team. We do when we’re together, so we can’t take plays off.”

Stevens opened the third quarter with 11 unanswered points, building a 48-31 lead before Scottsbluff got a free throw with 3:56 left for its first score of the second half.

The Raiders held the Bearcats to nine third-quarter points, led by as many as 21 and took a 57-40 advantage into the fourth frame.
“We just came out a little bit flat in the second half and they capitalized on everything that we weren’t performing,” Larson said. “They’re very good. They’re just so strong and so fast and definitely balanced.”

Stevens, which led by as many as 31 in the fourth quarter before Scottsbluff cut the final margin to 29, got 22 points from senior guard Taylor Molstad, 17 from sophomore guard Hanna VanDerWerff and 12 from senior guard Kiana Maxon.

Holscher and junior Aly Camacho shared scoring honors for Scottsbluff with 14 points apiece. Camacho had a team-high seven rebounds, while junior Chesney Walker had eight points and five boards along with three steals. Holscher added three steals and three assists.
Both Scottsbluff teams return to action Friday and Saturday. The Bearcat boys will play host to Alliance (6-9 before its Tuesday game against Chadron) on Friday and Sidney (15-2 entering the week) on Saturday, with both games scheduled for 7 p.m. starts.

The Scottsbluff girls will travel to Alliance (1-13 before Tuesday’s game against Chadron) on Friday and Sidney (11-6 entering the week) on Saturday.

“We’ll have to be ready to go,” Larson said. “Alliance will be ready to play, and of course Sidney as well.”

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