District champions again: Scottsbluff boys rally past upstart Alliance for fifth straight B-6 championship
     2015-03-05      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Philip Eckerberg/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff senior Ashley Jones goes in for a bucket as teammate junior Austin Clarkson lends support during Tuesday night’s District B-6 championship against Alliance. The Bearcats will head to Lincoln for the Nebraska State Basketball Tourney for the sixth time in seven years. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – Five-time district champions. And bound for the state tournament for the sixth time in seven years. So indeed is the story and success of the Scottsbluff boys’ basketball team.
While challenged for much of their District B-6 championship game Tuesday night against a late-season upstart Alliance team, the Bearcats rose to the occasion in the second half with a solid team effort the Bearcats used at both ends of the floor to earn a 62-48 victory.

The Bearcats (21-4) will begin their 38th trip to state on Thursday. Scottsbluff drew the No. 6 seed and will play a familiar foe in Sidney, which despite its district semifinal loss made the state tourney as a wildcard.
The Bearcats and No. 3 seed Red Raiders (20-3) will play Thursday at 9:45 a.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. The winner will play in Friday’s semifinals against the winner between No. 2 Beatrice (21-1) and No. 7 Plattsmouth (16-8) at 1 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The full state bracket can be found on NSAAhome.org under State Tournaments.
However, Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske, who will be taking his sixth Bearcat team to state in his eight years at SHS, proclaimed after Tuesday’s win, “We’re going to relax and enjoy this tonight.”

With a packed house at the Scottsbluff High School gymnasium of both red-and-black Scottsbluff fans, who have come to expect playing for and winning the district championship, along with blue-and-white Alliance faithful and battling pep bands were treated to a deadlock of a first half, which ended at 29 points apiece.
“We needed to execute our offense, move the ball side to side and have better help on defense,” Siske said of the halftime strategy, which needed to deny the Bulldogs the chance to have another 27-20 lead.

Coming out of halftime, at which Scottsbluff sophomore Dru Kuxhausen had scored 12 points on four 3-pointers and Alliance senior Jordan Mills had 11 points with three treys, senior Bearcat guard Jackson Hinze ripped the east net with a go-ahead 3-ball that put the ’Cats ahead 32-29, their first lead since late in the first quarter.
While the Bulldogs scored two straight buckets to regain the lead at 33-32, Scottsbluff started to slowly take command and finished the third quarter with a 46-38 advantage.

The Bearcats tied the game at 33 on a Kuxhausen free throw after Scottsbluff had missed three straight shots and Kuxhausen was fouled after pulling in the third rebound.
Then the Bearcats’ double-post set of sophomore Landon Walker and junior Austin Clarkson teamed to score four points each in Scottsbluff’s ensuing 10-5 run for a 43-38 lead with 1:07 left in the third quarter.

Then in the final minute, with Alliance content to pass the ball around to find an open shot or wind away the third period, Bearcat senior Trent Harris stole a pass to Hill and found an open Kuxhausen at the opposite end.
Kuxhausen drew a foul on the layup, which fell, and so did his follow-up free throw, giving the Bearcats their biggest lead at 46-38.

“He played really well,” Siske said of Harris, whose defensive prowess on Hill earned him the opportunity to wear the cut-down net after the game for the second straight year.
“Coach always has me on the best players, and that just gives me the confidence to step up and play big D at the end of games,” Harris said. “That’s what I did tonight.”
“That was a huge momentum play and probably the play of the game,” Siske added. “(Harris) comes up with that steal and we get a three-point play out of it – the old-fashioned way.”

Scottsbluff started the fourth quarter with senior Dillon Hernandez making a steal and scoring the first two of his nine-point effort in the period. Alliance scored six straight points, four by Hill, and pulled to within four at 50-46 with 5:05 remaining.

The Bearcats then stopped the Bulldog on eight straight possessions and built a 60-46 advantage behind Hernandez’s trey, a Harris bucket and five free throws.
Hill added a basket with 30 seconds left, giving him a game-high 21 points, but Hernandez sealed Scottsbluff’s state-bound mission with two final free shots with 24.5 seconds remaining.
Kuxhausen finished with a team-high 16 points for the Bearcats, while Clarkson followed with 13 points and eight rebounds. Hernandez and Walker followed with nine points apiece.

The game was at Alliance’s third different site in district action. The No. 4 seed Bulldogs (10-13) scored a 52-38 win over No. 5 seeded tournament host McCook (6-19) in the first round Saturday and then knocked off semifinal host and No. 1 seed Sidney 56-50 in Monday’s first semifinal.

Sidney’s loss – though the Red Raiders (20-4) appear headed to state as the No. 3 seed in spite of their semifinal setback – put the championship game in Scottsbluff after the No. 2 seed Bearcats eliminated No. 3 Gering 61-48 in Monday’s other semifinal at Sidney.
Alliance, which had suffered an 81-39 beat down at Scottsbluff on Feb. 6 and two other 20-point losses to the Bearcats earlier in the season, entered the title tilt on a 7-5 run after the Bulldogs started the year 3-8.
“Earlier in the year, we could pressure them into some mistakes, and now they’re just playing clean basketball and not turning the ball over, and they were shooting the ball really well too,” Siske said of the much-improved Bulldogs. “They took care of the basketball and handled our defense.”

Scottsbluff enters the state tournament on an 11-game winning streak. Its last loss was on Jan. 23, a 65-58 setback at Sidney. The Bearcats own two other wins over the Red Raiders, 67-54 in the Western Conference Invitational Tournament final and 70-56 at home on Feb. 7.

But the moment was all about winning districts. “It’s a great day to be a Bearcat,” Siske added.

Bearcats end Bulldogs’ season in semifinals

In Monday’s second semifinal, Scottsbluff used an 11-0 run in the second quarter to break open a tight game and withstood a Gering rally to within seven in the fourth period to take the 12-point win and earn the chance to play host to the B-6 finals after Alliance’s upset win over No. 1 seed Sidney.
In the third meeting between Scottsbluff and Gering this season – the Bearcats won the first two, 61-48 at Scottsbluff 10 nights earlier and 66-50 at Gering on Jan. 24 – the teams traded leads three times in the first quarter. The Bearcats ended the opening period with a 6-2 run for a 9-6 lead.

With an 11-0 run that included three 3-pointers, Scottsbluff took command with a 24-9 lead and held on to a 24-12 advantage at halftime.
“It was pretty much the same game as last time,” Gering coach Randy Plummer said. “They got out to a little bit of a lead and they kept their lead the whole way. If we could have withstood the very first part of the game, when we didn’t make our shots and they did and then the rest of the game was pretty equal – that’s kind of the way all three of them went.

“We’re not going to score a lot of points, so we needed to make the game a little uglier and slow the tempo down. We were able to do that and to hold them to 51 points is pretty good. We only scored 39 points and that was the difference.”
Both teams scored 13 points in the third quarter and 14 in the fourth, also the Bearcats built an early 17-point lead in the third stanza and withstood a Bulldog rally in the early fourth quarter that cut their deficit to 39-32.

But two quick baskets by Hernandez restored the Bearcats’ 12-point advantage, and Scottsbluff built another 17-point, 51-34 lead before Gering scored the game’s final five points to make the final margin a dozen.
“We just had to handle them switching defenses, just settle in, make shots and keep playing defense,” Siske said. “We just kind of stayed there, made a couple shots and they were also scoring. It was kind of an odd game.”

Kuxhausen hit two 3-pointers and all three of his free throws on his way to a team-high 13 points.

Scottsbluff held a 26-22 edge in rebounds, led by Walker’s 11 boards that included five off the offensive glass. Walker also scored 10 points for a double-double.
Hernandez added 10 points as well, hitting two 3-pointers. Clarkson and Hinze had three assists apiece, while Hinze also had three steals and Clarkson blocked two shots.

Gering freshman Tyler Pszanka led all scorers with 14 points, hitting 6 of 9 shots in pacing a Bulldog offense that otherwise was held to 39.5 percent (17-for-43) from the floor. Junior Austin Hoffman followed with 10 points despite hitting just 4 of 12 shot attempts.
Other leaders for Gering (12-11) included junior Brent Barge with six rebounds and senior Esai Hernandez with five boards. Barge also had two steals, as did sophomore Tanner Wengler.

The Bulldogs lose three seniors in Esai Hernandez, Kraiger Ebbers and Joses Palomo, who missed the last two games with a hand injury after leading Gering on many nights with his 3-point and ball-handling talents.

“We have a lot of guys coming back who got a lot of varsity experience this year,” Plummer said. “So we look good for next year. I’m excited already, and I’m sure they’ll look back on this year and remember that we stayed close together as a team. We were all friends, and that was worth it right there.”

Share this story on Facebook
LOGIN or REGISTER for exclusive access to premium content

Good Evening friend!
Recently Read Sports
870District champions again: Scottsbluff boys rally past upstart Alliance for fifth straight B-6 championship
700Bearcat girls' perfect streak reaches 12 before loss
665North Platte Valley track teams head to Omaha
636Feddersen scores 32, WNCC women run past Lamar 95-57
657Gering fends off Lexington for Rhodes' first victory
704Big Crash at HiWay 92 Raceway
664USTA tennis club prepares for coming meets
622Seacats gain automatic times from Stark, relay Scottsbluff/Gering teams both finish third in conference meet
664Congrats GGSA Champions
1093All Points West: Finding a champ in you
849Gering has eight victories at Mitchell track meet
665Field improvements to lure Bulldogs softball teams
572Bayard rallies to down Mitchell in Tiger Bowl
665Lady Bulldogs win first district game
561Bearcats drive 55 in shutting out Bulldogs: Scottsbluff in position to win fourth district title in five years; Gering plays host to Sidney
665Bearcats let out new-year’s roar with pair of victories
1028Weather forces Gering to forfeit: Bulldogs down 14-0 against Bison in 1st Qtr.
675Gering's Smith takes all-star route back to diamond
665Senior Legion 36ers back on winning streak
213Scottsbluff knocked out
Most Read Sports 2012
3736Mitchell track off to a strong start
3588Morrill baseball back in business
2890Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2798Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2452Raising the bar high
2423Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2401Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2226Gering wrestling builds on experience
2116Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2109Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2028Doing the heavy lifting
1970Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
1950Gering resident lives his dream
1879Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
1878All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
1875Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
1865Bearcat coach nears finish line
1847All Points West: Deter gave us reason to golf
1844All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
1831Scottsbluff hopes to repeat as state champs
Most Read Sports 2011
3736Mitchell track off to a strong start
3588Morrill baseball back in business
2890Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2798Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2452Raising the bar high
2423Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2401Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2226Gering wrestling builds on experience
2116Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
2109Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2028Doing the heavy lifting
1970Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
1950Gering resident lives his dream
1879Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
1878All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
1875Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
1865Bearcat coach nears finish line
1847All Points West: Deter gave us reason to golf
1844All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
1831Scottsbluff hopes to repeat as state champs
Platte Valley Companies
Fresh Foods
American Legacy
Spectrum Photo
Kendell Henderson
= = = Platte Valley Companies' = = =
Sports Page

Check out the
Gering Bulldogs on