Gering, Scottsbluff 3-0 in Shoot-Out
     2016-02-19      By Roger Holsinger    editor@geringcitizen.com
Sue Wengler/Special to the Gering Citizen Gering junior Alex Duncan goes up for a shot against Lexington’s Henry Chacon in the Bulldog’s second game of the East-West Shoot-Out on Feb. 12 at Gering gymnasium. 
The Gering and Scottsbluff High School boys basketball squads got just what they were hoping for starting last Thursday – wins.

Those three wins for the Gering Bulldogs were just what the doctor ordered for the Bulldogs after experiencing some gut-wrenching losses a couple of weeks ago against Alliance and Sidney.

But the Bulldogs got the winning streak started prior to the start of the shoot-out as they picked up a big win over Ogallala on Feb. 8.

Austin Hoffman led the Bulldogs in scoring with 26 points in the 69-43 win at the Gering High School gymnasium.

That win helped kick start Randy Plummer’s feisty squad as the Bulldogs took it to the Bulldogs of North Platte, 65-50, during the opening round of the tournament in Gering. Trey Winkler had the hot hand Thursday night as he dumped in 23 points including 12 of those coming from the charity stripe.

On Friday night the Bulldogs hosted the Minutemen of Lexington, and Gering came out cold scoring just six first quarter points.

Whatever changes Plummer implemented worked at the start of the second quarter as the Bulldogs tallied up 21 more points and went in at halftime leading 48-43.

In the second half Gering took off where it left off as Austin Hoffman hit the jumper and then Christian Rogers hit the back end of a two-shot foul to give the Bulldogs a three-point lead.

But Lexington’s Trevor McKeone fired back with a three to tie the contest. Gering answered again from the free-throw line, this time with Brent Barge. The score remained close throughout the third period but Gering ended the quarter with a five-point lead after Barge hit the three as time ran out.

During the fourth quarter, Roger’s put on a scoring show with four quick points, and then Sonny Salazar decided to enter the stage scoring twice. But Lexington would not fold, especially when given the chance to shoot the open three.

Andrew Saiz hit a three to cut the Gering lead to three while Willians Mendoza also added a bucket.

Salazar then showed his senior leadership diving after a loose ball feeding Barge under the basket. Barge was fouled and sank both free throws to stretch the Gering lead to five with 1:55 remaining to play. Gering then spent plenty of time at the free throw line and went 10-12. Austin Hoffman, Barge, Rogers, and Salazar sunk their shots as Gering got the 70-62 win. Winkler ended the night with 19 points including two three-pointers, Barge ended 14 and Rogers and Hoffman each had 12 points. Gering was 26-33 from the free throw line.

Plummer summed up the night as a “great” basketball game and said picking up a win earlier in the week obviously helped.

After a slow first quarter, maybe some tired legs from the other game, Plummer said they tried a number of different things to figure out what would work best against Lexington.

“We started the back cuts and got some lay-ups. We didn’t do as much screening as we usually do...they run a different style than us, but I thought that was one of the best games we played all year against a good team with good shooters,” said Plummer.

An area that helped secure the win for Gering was the success on the free-throw line and Plummer agreed.

“About four games each year are going to be won or lost down the last two minutes from the free-throw line, and (Thursday) we were 20-33, that is great,” he said.

Plummer knew that his team needed some wins after the heartbreak they experienced and if he were to grade his team’s performance, Plummer said he would give them an “A.”

“Not quite A-plus, but A. These are some tough teams and play a different schedule and styles that you’re not used to seeing. And style means they are more rugged, a lot more up in your face on defense, and it takes a little while to get used to that style.

“Obviously they foul more, thank goodness, because we have shot so many free-throws, and their style is more aggressive. But I am really proud of the guys. This was a tough team and I was worried about the game, but they really played well, especially when Austin (Hoffman) fouled out and the guys put it together at the end.”

Plummer also praised the play of Rogers, who at the beginning of the year was barely playing junior varsity, but Plummer said he has improved and stepped up because he has become more confident in his game.

Rogers said his confidence began to take shape and now he feels that, with the help from his teammates, when he steps on the court. “I have gained a lot of confidence in myself,” he said. “The coaches have been pushing me forward to the player I can be.”

Rogers added when he takes the three-pointer or drives through the lane, he has the confidence he lacked at the beginning of the year.

“I also know my teammates have my back and (Thursday) we knew that we had to go in there fresh and keep thinking we can win. “Going into districts I think we’re on a good roll right now. We came off those heart-breaking loses, but we know we can win those types of games now,” said Rogers.

Gering ended the shoot-out Saturday afternoon with a, 64-39, win over McCook to end the tournament 3-0 and 14-7 on the season. Winkler and Hoffman ended the game with 13 points each, while Tyler Pszanka added 11 and Rogers scored nine.

Gering’s regular season draws to a close Feb. 19 as they host cross-town rival Scottsbluff and then it’s time for districts.

Plummer said he believes his team has a strong offense that’s hard to stop, and says the teams has enough defensive plays that “we can respond to about anything. So right now we’re as good as we can be right now.”

For Scottsbluff, the wins began last Thursday as the Bearcats thumped the Minutemen of Lexington, 78-29.

Scottsbluff had a 37-7 lead after the first quarter and went in at halftime ahead, 54-17. Junior Dru Kuxhausen led the beating by the Bearcats as he dumped in 32 points including 21 points from three-point land. Jonah Wright, Landon Walker and Dillon Hernandez each ended the night with 12 points.

On Friday the Bearcats faced McCook and ended the night with another “W,” but it was quite the blowout from the previous night. The Bearcats beat the Bison, 51-23. Scottsbluff Head Coach Tony Siske credited the play of his defense for the win. Scottsbluff held McCook to just two points in the first quarter and five in the first half.

Offensively for the Bearcats, Kuxhausen and Hernandez led the charge as Kuxhausen scored 17 and Hernandez added 15 points.

What could be characterized as the “toughest” of the three games for the Bearcats came at the conclusion of the tournament Saturday afternoon when the Bearcats hosted Bulldogs of North Platte.

The 18-3 Bearcats mustered just 15 first-quarter points compared to North Platte’s seven, but still had a 15-point cushion at halftime.
Siske said his team was a little flat offensively.

Kuxhausen was again the lead scorer with 21 while Walker added 11 and Austin Clarkson scored 10 in the 52-30 win.

The regular season for the Bearcats draws to a close this weekend as they will play in Gering on Feb. 19, and then host Rapid City Central on Feb. 20.

Boys District B-6:

Feb. 27, Feb. 29, March 1

Prairie View School, Ogallala

Schools assigned: Alliance, Gering, McCook, Scottsbluff, and Sidney

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