We had a very busy weekend of basketball coverage with 18 games in total from the girls and boys Western Conference Tournaments. In the end it was the Alliance boys and the Scottsbluff girls coming out on top with titles.
In the boys championship game Alliance held Scottsbluff scoreless for the first quarter and the Bearcats managed only five points in the entire first half as Alliance picked up the win, 49-36.
Alliance’s offense slowed to a grinding halt as well about halfway through the second quarter and despite allowing just five points led by only 15 at the break, 20-5.
Then coming out of the locker room the Alliance offense stayed cold and Scottsbluff rallied quickly scoring the first seven points of the quarter and eventually getting the game tied at 28-28.
The Bulldogs got a pair of late third quarter baskets from Jaron Matulka to spark the team and then in the fourth quarter senior standout, 6’6, Caeson Clarke, got busy with six quick points. He finished with a game high 15 for the Bulldogs.
Scottsbluff showed their potential in the third quarter when they scored 23 points with five different players scoring. Izaiah Mendoza led Scottsbluff with 9 and Tyler Harre chipped in 8.
Boys Tournament Notes
*Of my nine broadcasts, eight were boys games so my notes will be more slanted towards the boys side*
Alliance- Start the year 3-0 behind the strong play of senior Caeson Clarke. Clarke scored 31 points on Thursday in their opener and then followed that up with games of 18 and 15. Eight of Alliance’s top nine players are seniors. Chase King did a nice job defensively in crunch time against Scottsbluff chasing around Tyler Harre and making it tough for him to get an open look. Crayten Cyza is a tough minded senior.
Scottsbluff- After the first game of the tournament the Cats lost some size with Trace Travnicek leaving the team (player decision) and right now Scottsbluff’s rotation goes about seven deep. Junior Tyler Harre scored 19 on opening night and 15 in round two. Sophomore Kellon Harris had his ups and downs but will grow into a big time player. Senior Izaiah Mendoza added a nice scoring punch to the team on opening weekend averaging 12 points per game. Scottsbluff heads to Gillette this weekend.
Chadron- The Cardinals start 2-1 and they played in the most exciting game of the weekend, beating Mitchell 79-72 in the third place game behind 28 points from junior Guarav Chima, who hit six threes in the win. Chadron also has Justus Alcorn, who can score inside and out and is relentless on the glass and getting to the rim with the ball. Sophomore Xander Provance also is an offensive rebounding force and he threw down three dunks over the weekend.
Mitchell- You hate to see anyone go down with an injury, especially when it’s one of the best players in the region, like Austin Thyne. Thyne sprained his ankle on Thursday against Gering and then missed the final two games (he told me he hopes to be ready for action later this week). But in his absence the Tigers found some kids who can play. Sophomore Easton Anderson buried 8 threes in the loss to Chadron and scored 28 points and freshman Carter Reisig burst onto the scene with 8 points Friday and then 15 on Saturday. He’s gonna be a dandy.
Gering- The Bulldogs finished 0-3 on the weekend after a loss to Sidney in that tough Saturday morning game. Gering lost to Sidney by 9, to Alliance by 5, and to Mitchell by 8, so they’re not too far off from finding the win column. Early on their top guy is senior Jack Franklin. Franklin scored 20 on Thursday and 24 on Friday before taking a nasty spill on Saturday that limited his minutes and production a little bit to just 7 points. Gering got back sophomore Max Greeley on Saturday and he led the team with 11 points. Gering has a busy week with Mitchell, Adams Central, and Hastings.
Sidney- The Red Raiders are coming off a 3-20 season a year ago and they’re much improved, even if that means just competing with opponents on a night to night basis. Junior Sawyer Dickman scored 46 points in the three games from the Sidney backcourt. Zach Burke scored 13 on Saturday and they have a sophomore in Micah Schneider, who shows nice potential with a well rounded game.
Girls Tournament Notes
The championship game came down to the closing seconds as Scottsbluff was able to edge Chadron by the final of 41-40. Sophomore Sabrina Harsh scored the game winning basket with just under :07 to play in the game while Anna Kelley connected on 6 three pointers to lead Scottsbluff in scoring with 18 points as the Lady Cats finished off the opening weekend with a 3-0 record.
It was a game of runs; Chadron led at halftime by five, but Scottsbluff rallied back to lead after three quarters, 31-29, and then in the fourth Chadron rallied to go in front with a 7-0 run before Scottsbluff scored the final five points of the game on a Kelley three and the winner from Harsh.
*Again, just adding a couple notes from teams I saw, or coaches I talked to…Jeff Kelley did a great job covering 8 of the 9 girls games*
Scottsbluff- Head Coach Dave Bollish will play a lot of players. Payton Burda scored 22 on opening night and figures to be the high volume shooter with the ability to really get hot. Same thing for Kelley, who was quiet early on over the weekend but got hot and keyed the title on Saturday. Scottsbluff heads to Gillette this weekend.
Gering- Nice start to the season for the Lady Bulldogs as they go 2-1 with a 3 point loss to Sidney and then wins over Alliance and Mitchell. Head Coach Steve Land said “I really like this group, not real deep but a we’re gonna be a lot better than last year.” Land added they’ve got a big week ahead with the games against Mitchell, Adams Central, and Hastings.