For the second straight year, the Mitchell girls basketball team reigned supreme as Western Conference Tournament champions.
Keyana Wilfred poured in 27 points to lead the Tigers to a 48-43 come-from-behind win over Sidney in the championship game on Saturday at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff.
“It gives us a lot of confidence going into our season,” said Wilfred, who is a 6-foot-3 University of Nevada, Las Vegas recruit. “We are just so excited. Every time we get to play in these tournaments in front of everybody, we have something to prove each time.”
It certainly wasn’t easy for the Tigers, especially in the second quarter when they failed to score during the final four minutes of the opening half and trailed 20-15 at halftime. Mitchell regrouped at the break and outscored Sidney 20-5 to start the second half. The Tiger defense held the Red Raiders scoreless until just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
Wilfred said defensive intensity was the key in the second half.
“We were more intense the second half and we fixed our defense a little bit,” she said. “We had issues a little bit, but we got back in. We hustled and we worked more and passed more.”
Mitchell first-year head coach Shawn Harvey said his team put together a great defensive performance in the second half.
“That is what we preach to the girls that defense will turn to offense,” he said. “The harder we play defense, the offense will come. That is what they’ve done. They turned up their defense. We have to make sure we are getting that same defensive intensity in the first half and then I think we will be fine.”
Mitchell started strongly in the contest, jumping out to a 15-7 lead in the first quarter on a Bethany Sterkel trey and buckets from Jessica Cotant and Ricci Ayala. Sidney weathered the early storm and closed back within 15-12 at the end of the first after a Meaghan Ross 3-pointer.
After Mitchell went ahead 20-15 on three Wilfred buckets, it was Sidney’s defense that took over for the remainder of the first half. The Raiders held the Tigers scoreless for over four minutes of play. In the meantime, Sidney went on a 10-0 run to surge into a 25-20 lead at halftime. The run was highlighted by a 3-pointer by Janay Brauer and an old-fashioned three-point play from Mattie Johnson.
The third quarter changed the complexion of the contest. Mitchell ran off 15 straight points, including seven from Wilfred and a big 3-pointer from Anabelle Gillen to lead 35-25. Sidney scored its first points with 3:15 to play in the third on a Brauer bucket. Mitchell led 40-30 after three.
Sidney mounted a small comeback in the fourth, cutting the lead to 43-38 and later 45-41 on a Johnson trey with 1:25 to play. But that was as close as the Raiders would get as Wilfred hit a clutch basket and then hit one of two free throws with 42 seconds to play for the final margin.
Harvey said the way the Tigers played in the second half was definitely the difference.
“We weren’t rotating on defense as well in the first half, but we stuck in it,” he said. “In that third quarter the girls just turned the defense up and our defense was really good. Our offense starting clicking. We were getting Keyana open down low. That is a good game plan for us. If we can get her open, the girls know how to get her the ball and success will come for us.”
Wilfred was the only Tiger to score in double figures with her 27 points. Ayala followed with nine points and Anabelle Gillen finished with seven.
Sidney had two players score in double figures. Johnson led the way with 13 points followed by Ross with 10.
Sidney (2-1) 12 13 5 13 – 43
Mitchell (3-0) 15 5 20 8 – 48
Meaghan Ross 10, MJ Johnstone 3, Nicole Birner 7, Mattie Johnson 13, Janey Brauer 7, Karly Sylvester 3.
Anabelle Gillen 7, Bethany Sterkel 3, Keyana Wilfred 27, Jessica Cotent 2, Ricci Ayala 9.
Scottsbluff 48, Chadron 35
The Scottsbluff girls put two in double figures and used a strong fourth-quarter defense in capturing third place of the Western Conference Invitational on Saturday at Cougar Palace with a 48-35 win over Chadron.
Yara Garcia led the Bearcats with 15 points while Aubry Krentz finished with 12.
Scottsbluff started the contest strong, rolling to a 16-7 lead. The second quarter Chadron reversed the momentum, outscoring the Bearcats 11-5. Scottsbluff held a 19-7 lead on a Krenz 3-pointer, but responded with a 11-0 run behind two buckets by Peyton Underwood and seven points from freshman Olivia Reed in cutting the lead to 19-18. Makenzie Dunkel stopped the scoring streak with a bucket sending the Bearcats into the locker room up 21-18.
Chadron knotted the score at 25 on a Jacey Garrett trey, but it was short-lived as Krentz came down the court and buried another 3-pointer to but the Bearcats back on top. Reed hit a bucket to bring the score back to a point. Krentz, once again, buried a trey for a 31-27 lead and the Bearcats le d 35-32 after three.
The fourth quarter was all Scottsbluff, outscoring the Cardinals 13-3 for the win.
Chadron was led by Reed with 16 points to lead all scorers.
Scottsbluff will return to action next Thursday for a 3-day tourney in Gillette, Wyoming. The Chadron girls will next be in action Friday when they host Gordon-Rushville.
Chadron (1-2) 7 11 14 3 – 35
Scottsbluff (2-1) 16 5 14 13 – 48
Tyleigh Strotheide 2, Jacey Garrett 6, Peyton Underwood 5, Shea Bailey 6, True Thorne 1, Olivia Reed 16.
Yara Garcia 15, Cali Wright 5, Kieyerah Twombly 9, Aubry Krentz 12, Makenzie Dunkel 7.
Gering 64, Sterling 39
Kelly Snelling poured in 21 points and the Gering girls basketball team used a strong second-half in rolling to a fifth place in the Western Conference Invitational with a 64-39 win over Sterling, Colorado, on Saturday at Scottsbluff High School.
The Bulldogs, who set a school record of 11 3-pointers in a game in a win over Alliance on Friday, nailed just four treys on Saturday. The previous record was nine 3-pointers back in the early 2000s.
Saturday, it was a complete team effort. Gering held a slim 11-8 lead after one quarter and then pushed the lead to 34-25 at halftime. The defining quarter was the third with the Bulldogs holding Sterling, Colorado, to just four points while scoring 16 of their own to lead 50-29 after three periods.
Gering had four players in double figures. Snelling, the McCook Community College women’s basketball recruit, led the squad with 21 points and two 3-pointers. Kiara Aguallo followed with 13 points and two treys, while Olivia Schaub had 10 points also with a trey.
Sterling was led by Hailey Fehringer with 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
Gering, 2-1, will be back in action Thursday when they travel to Mitchell to battle the Tigers in a girls, boy’s doubleheader beginning at 6 p.m.
Gering 11 23 16 14 – 64
Sterling 8 17 4 10 — 39
Paige Lopez 7, Cloey Fries 2, Olivia Schaub 10, Kiara Aguallo 13, Kelly Snelling 21, Taylor Philbrick 2,
Arianna Mitchell 7, Jenna Balhazor 2.
Allie Schumacher 2, Emerie Rios 1, Hailey Fehringer 14, Valerie Allen 4, Aubree Long 9, Jaden Newsome 2, Alexis Brower 7
Alliance 58, C. Green 17
The Alliance girls basketball team held the Conservatory Green Hornets scoreless in the first quarter in rolling to a 58-17 victory in the Western Conference Invitational at Scottsbluff High School.
The Bulldogs led 23-0 after one quarter and 35-5 at halftime in posting the win.
Alliance had a complete team effort with 10 different players hitting the scoring column. Ryley Rolls and Blythe Boness each scored 12 points in the win. Rolls had the only 3-pointers in the game for the Bulldogs.
Alliance also received eight points each from Megan Oligmueller and Emersen Cyza, while Janaye Shoemaker netted seven points.
Alliance, 1-2, will next be in action Friday when they travel to face Gering in a rematch of Friday’s tournament contest where Gering won 68-41.
Alliance 23 12 13 10 — 58
Conservatory Green 0 5 10 2 — 17
Janaye Shoemaker 7, Megan Oligmueller 8, Billi Alvarado 2, Jordan Hopp 6, Cameron Tritle 2, Payten Gibson 2, Ryley Rolls 12, Blythe Boness 12, Emersen Cyza 8, Olivia Knapp 1.
Sarah Gomez 6, Kirstyn Johnston 8, Vicky Wyatt 3.