Bearcat boys score big home sweep over Alliance, Sidney: Kuxhausen’s six 3-pointers carry Scottsbluff to second win of season over Red Raiders
     2015-02-12      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff senior Dru Kuxhausen (No. 0) puts up a short jump shot against Cheyenne East defenders on Jan. 16 game at the Scottsbluff High School gymnasium. Preparing in case Kuxhausen misses is Scottsbluff sophomore Landon Walker (No. 41). Kuxhausen went outside the 3-point arc Saturday against Sidney, hitting six treys in the second quarter of the Bearcats’ 70-56 home win. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – While most eyes on the Scottsbluff boys’ basketball schedule were focused on Saturday night’s game against Sidney and a matchup of two of the top five teams in Class B, Bearcat coach Tony Siske called Friday’s contest against seven-win Alliance the most important game of the season.

And for the right reason: Saturday’s game loses its significance if Scottsbluff looks past Alliance.

The only way the Bearcats looked past the Bulldogs, however, was in racing past them and hitting shot after shot after shot, running out to a 25-2 lead on their way to scoring an 81-39 victory.
Then Scottsbluff, which had split its first two games against Sidney, turned on its power boosters Saturday night.

Behind six 3-pointers by sophomore Dru Kuxhausen in the second quarter, the Bearcats turned a tight game after one period into a six-point halftime lead and extended their advantage in the second half on their way to scoring a 70-56 win over the Red Raiders.
“They all are,” Siske said of every game’s importance, and the weekend sweep propelled Scottsbluff to 14-4 on the season.
In defeating Sidney (17-3), the Bearcats tightened the wild-card point margin between themselves and the Red Raiders, who are No. 3 in Class B while Scottsbluff rose one spot to No. 5.

Sidney has three games remaining, while Scottsbluff plays three games this weekend – all on the road, in the annual East-West Shootout – and two more next week to finish the season, with the District B-6 boys’ bracket to be announced on Feb. 24.

Saturday’s game – the third between the Bearcats and Red Raiders this season, with each winning once – was played in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Scottsbluff High School gym.

And maybe such a crowd left the teams a little timid early, as Sidney led 9-8 after each team had 12 possessions in the first quarter.
Siske said the Bearcats were set defensively to face the Red Raiders, but they needed something to ignite the transition offense.
“Sometimes it takes someone to knock down a shot or two, and then all of a sudden we’re off to the races,” he said.

The teams traded leads six times in the first 91 seconds of the second quarter, and despite Kuxhausen’s six 3-balls and another 19-footer for 20 points in the period, the Bearcats took a 36-30 lead into halftime.

“We were fortunate that he did,” Siske said of Kuxhausen, who finished with a game-high 26 points that included his going 6-for-6 at the free-throw line and 6-for-9 in his 3-point barrage. “If he didn’t, we were in trouble.

“Our focus at halftime was playing better defense. I thought we were giving them too many easy shots at the rim. We kept them more on the perimeter and forced them into being a 3-point shooting team.”
Scottsbluff built on that six-point halftime lead and turned the gap into 14 (48-34) on senior Trent Harris’s 3-pointer with 2:00 left in the third quarter. Thanks to seven points by sophomore post Landon Walker in the period, the Bearcats had a 49-40 advantage going into the final frame.

In the fourth, Sidney never got closer than seven at 53-46, and Scottsbluff hit 7 of 8 free throws in the final 5:19 and four other shots in building a largest lead of 68-51 with 2:18 remaining.
For the game, the Bearcats were 14-for-17 (82.3 percent) from the free-throw line, with Harris going 5-for-5 in joining Kuxhausen in charity shot perfection.

Harris had eight fourth-quarter points on his way to adding 18 points for the Bearcats, and Walker followed with 15 points.
Scottsbluff’s shooting was low in the first and third quarters and high in the second and fourth periods, but the Bearcats still shot 45.2 percent for the game, including 44.4 percent (8-for-18) on 3-point attempts. They limited Sidney to 38.3 percent shooting for the night.

Scottsbluff had a 36-27 advantage in rebounds, led by Harris with eight boards and Kuxhausen and senior Ashley Jones with six apiece. Senior Jackson Hinze led the Bearcats in assists with four and steals with three.

Sidney got 22 points from junior Tyler Wintholz, 11 points from senior Lane Harvey and 10 by junior Jake Heeren. Despite the Raiders’ deficit in total rebounds, Heeren had eight boards to share game-high honors with Harris.

“It was a fun atmosphere, with two teams competing extremely hard and it was a good basketball game,” Siske said. “It was a good win on an important weekend.”
The stage for Scottsbluff’s important weekend was set early against Alliance (7-10). After jumping out to a 23-point, first-quarter lead on the Bulldogs, the Bearcats built a 43-14 halftime lead.
Scottsbluff reached the 40-point margin shortly before third quarter’s end, implementing the running clock rule for the rest of the blowout victory.

“Team basketball is what we’re stressing and being good teammates,” Siske said. “It was 25-2 and they hit a contested 3 at the buzzer, so it was a great start for us.”

Kuxhausen set the pace by scoring eight points in the team’s big first-quarter run and finished with a game-high 17 points. Harris followed with 15 points and Jones netted 11, while Hinze and Walker scored six of their eight points apiece in the first period.
“Our ball movement, making the extra pass led to a great shooting percentage for us,” Siske said of the Bearcats’ 67.3 percent accuracy from the floor and holding Alliance to 28 percent. “And I’m proud of our defense. We did a great job defensively. We moved the ball well and defended well.”

Alliance senior Jordan Mills led the Bulldogs with 16 points despite hitting just 4 of 19 shots from the floor. Mills also had a team-leading seven rebounds.
Scottsbluff also dominated on the boards with a 37-20 advantage, led by Walker with eight rebounds and Harris with seven. Harris and Hinze dished out four assists apiece, while Harris had two blocked shots and Jones picked two steals.

The Bearcats had 12 players take the court and 11 got into the scoring column.
“It’s good to get that many guys on the court,” Siske said. “We have a lot of kids who deserve to play. It’s just tough to get them all in sometimes, but games like this make it easy.”

The Bearcats face a three-game road trip in the annual East-West Shootout starting tonight (Thursday) against North Platte (3-16), Lexington (4-15) and McCook (6-13).

Despite the fact that all three opponents are well under .500, Siske said he knows better than to take any of the games for granted. In other words, play like the Bearcats did against Alliance.
“I know it’s going to be tough,” Siske said of the bi-annual trip. “It always is, going on the road playing three games in three days.”


Alliance, Sidney avenge losses to Scottsbluff girls

Second-year Scottsbluff girls’ coach Rachel Larson is concerned about her Bearcats (6-9) after they dropped a 57-51 decision to one-win Alliance on Friday night and then a 47-27 contest at Sidney on Saturday night.

“More than anything, we just shot poorly,” Larson said. “During our little streak (of three wins in four games during late December and early January) we were shooting the ball really well.”

That streak included an 82-41 home romp over Alliance on Jan. 9 in which the Bearcats set a single-game scoring record.

“It’s not that we’re defending poorly or that we’re boxing out poorly, it’s more than anything our execution in the half-court and we’re just not making many baskets,” Larson said. Larson said. “That is something I really noticed on Saturday night and that I heard from Friday night as well.”

Larson was attending a reading convention Friday and missed Scottsbluff’s game at Alliance, which the Bulldogs (2-14) entered having lost 12 straight decisions.

Alliance led a tight game 41-37 after three quarters and sealed its first win since Dec. 6 with 10 fourth-period free throws.
Senior Kennedy Cyza led the Bulldogs in scoring with a game-high 14 points, followed by senior Emily Jensen, whose 10 points included two 3-pointers in the game.

Scottsbluff junior Aly Camacho led the Bearcats with 13 points and also had five rebounds and five steals. Junior Zoe Holscher and sophomore Rudi Salazar followed in scoring with 10 points apiece. Junior Chloey Reifschneider, who hit two 3-pointers, scored eight points.

The Bearcats entered Saturday’s game at Sidney (14-6) without Salazar, who suffered an injury in the junior varsity game. Despite losing Salazar’s guard leadership, Larson still credited her troops for their efforts despite the loss.

“The kids who played did a really good job and I definitely will not fault their effort,”

she said. “Their defense was good at times and their boxing out was really good. We just couldn’t make anything.”

Sidney, which had suffered a 68-57 loss at Scottsbluff on Jan. 23, turned an 11-7 lead after one quarter into a 28-12 halftime advantage. The Red Raiders finished with a second-half run of 19-15.
Camacho led Scottsbluff with eight points and seven rebounds, while junior Chesney Walker added seven points and made three steals.
Sidney senior Savanna Rosenbaum led a balanced Sidney scoring effort with eight points and sophomore Annalise Lecher followed with seven points.

The Bearcats have their three East-West Shootout games all at the SHS gym and open play tonight against North Platte (10-9) at 7. Scottsbluff then takes on Lexington (5-15) on Friday at 7 p.m. and wraps up the shootout against McCook (5-14) on Saturday in a 12:30 p.m.

In preparation for the three-day run, Larson said, “We’re going to do a lot of shooting and keep working on our boxing out, and hopefully we’ll get our legs back.”

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