COLUMBUS – Yara Garcia poured in 22 points including three 3-pointers to power the Scottsbluff Lady Cats to a hard-fought 53-48 win over Gering Thursday in the first day of the GNAC tournament in Columbus.
Scottsbluff coach Dave Bollish said his team played alright against a Gering team that he thought also played well.
“I thought we executed the game plan and focused on parts of practice from the week really well,” Bollish said. “We didn’t shoot it as well as we would of liked or like we can, but that will come as the second part of the season unwinds. I was pleased with how we played and the control that we played with.”
Gering coach Steve Land said they had a different game plan and they executed it well.
“We played fairly well. We had a difference defensive scheme plan and the girls executed it really well,” Land said. “We had cut it to two points late in the game and had a great opportunity to win the game.”
Land was also pleased with his team’s defensive effort.
“We mixed up our defenses well enough and kept them off guard. I thought we got them into foul trouble and they had just two big scorers,” he said. “We also didn’t give up the big second quarter which we have been giving up all year. It was 16-14 where we outscored Scottsbluff in the second quarter for a change.”
Land was really impressed with how his team battled back from eight and nine-point deficits.
“I think we are growing as a team,” Land said. “Earlier in the year with all the young kids playing, we would really get down on ourselves. We have to fight back. We talked about that at halftime.”
Bollish said it was one of Gering’s best games of the year.
“I thought Gering played really well and did a nice job of grinding and controlling what they do really well,” he said. “I thought that was one of the best games I saw Gering play this year and hats off to them for sure.”
The first quarter was back and forth with Scottsbluff holding a 12-9 lead. The second quarter was another toss-up. Gering, who had bad second quarters during December, turned it around in January and actually outscored Scottsbluff 16-14 to trail at halftime 26-25.
Garcia had 15 points in the first half of her 22 for the game. Gering’s Taylor Philbrick had the hot scoring hand in the second quarter, scoring seven of her 14 game-high points in that period.
Bollish said his team had some runs that were vital in the contest.
“We went on a 10-point run in the first half and Yara got hot and hit a couple threes and we got some shots to fall,” he said. “We had a couple more runs than they did.”
The third quarter saw Scottsbluff open the quarter on a 9-1 run behind treys from Garcia and Krentz for a 34-26 lead. Gering didn’t let the run go any further as they went on an 8-0 run themselves to knot the score at 34. Gering’s run was highlighted by an old-fashioned 3-point play by Macey Boggs and a trey by Kiara Aguallo. The Bearcats closed out the quarter with buckets by Garcia and Krentz to lead 38-34 at halftime.
Gering grabbed a 40-39 lead in the fourth on a bucket by Cloey Fries. Krentz and Emma Foote came right back and buried a trey apiece during an 8-0 run to push the Bearcat’s lead to 47-40. Scottsbluff led 50-42 later with just over three minutes to play after Krentz launched and buried another three. That 8-0 run was stopped by the Bulldogs with six unanswered points. Philbrick started things with two of four free throws followed by buckets by Emily Harrison and Fries.
Scottsbluff sealed the win with Mariyah Avila burying 3 of 4 free throws for the 53-48 win.
Scottsbluff was hot from beyond the arc with nine treys. Krentz buried four, while Garcia had three, Payton Burda and Emma Foote each with one.
Gering had four threes in the game and were 10 of 18 from the free throw line. Philbrick was 7 of 8 from the free throw line. Aguallo led the Bulldogs with two treys, while Boggs and Philbrick had the other 3-pointer.
Garcia led all scorers in scoring with 22 points followed by 17 from Krentz. Foote was next with four points.
Gering had three players in double figures. Philbrick had 14 points followed by Aguallo with 13 and Fries with 12.
Scottsbluff will be back in action at 4 p.m. when they face Columbus. Gering will play a consolation game at 1 p.m. against Hastings.
Bollish said his team has to play a little better Friday against Columbus.
“They have a really nice point guard and they played Gering to a 10-point game. They also have a couple of other guards that can step up and hit shots,” Bollish said. “They are a nice team. They have had some tough battles in Class A.”
Land said his team will look to rebound against a Hastings team in which they lost 53-42 in December.
“We played them fairly close in December,” Land said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well at all when we played Hastings before and they played great half-court man-to-man defense, so have to be ready for that.”
Gering 9 16 9 14 – 48
Scottsbluff 12 14 12 15 – 53
Mariyah Avila 3, Izzy Wright 1, Yara Garcia 22, Emma Herman 3, Aubry Krentz 17, Emma Foote 4, Payton Burda 3.
Macey Boggs 6, Kiara Aguallo 13, Cloey Fries 12, Taylor Philbrick 14, Emily Harrison 3.