Three road victories last week have the Scottsbluff girls' basketball team still undefeated for 2011 and looking to avenge one of the Bearcats' last defeats this weekend.
Scottsbluff rose to 16-3 on the season and to 10 straight wins with a 67-48 victory last Tuesday at Torrington, a 66-47 win at Alliance on Friday and a 45-36 triumph at Sidney on Saturday.
The Bearcats' biggest test came against Sidney (12-6), which was trying to avenge a 68-48 loss at Scottsbluff on Jan. 22.
The Red Raiders led by eight points late in the third quarter and held onto a 27-25 edge entering the fourth quarter, when the visiting Bearcats erupted for a 20-7 streak to finish the game.
“That was a battle,” Scottsbluff coach Mike Burda said. “We played really hard on defense. We were able to get pressure on them and force turnovers and had a lot of transition buckets.”
The Bearcats also held their own at the free-throw line by hitting 16 of 20 charity shots.
Senior Hattie Guzman led the Bearcats' offense with 13 points, while seniors Marcie Sindt and Makayla Westphal followed with 11 points apiece. Sindt had a team-high seven rebounds and junior Maddie Holscher grabbed five boards.
The night before at Alliance, a strong second-half effort for Scottsbluff turned a tight game into a 19-point victory.
“Alliance played really well,” said Burda, whose team beat the Bulldogs at home on Jan. 7. “It was close at half, then we extended the lead.”
Guzman led all scorers with 25 points and shared team-leading honors with Holscher with five thefts apiece. Westphal had 14 points with three assists, and Sindt knocked down 8 of 9 free throws in scoring 12 points. Sophomore Zoey Rada came off the bench to grab a team-high five rebounds.
Against Torrington, the Bearcats turned a three-point halftime into a 30-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter.
“We came out and played really hard in the second half,” Burda said.
Westphal was 9-for-11 from the floor on her way to a team-high 19 points for the Bearcats. Guzman hit 3 of 7 3-point shots and 7 of 12 overall in scoring 17 points, while senior Gillian Harkins was 6-for-9 in adding 12 points along with a team-best five rebounds. Westphal also had five steals, and senior Abby Zach made five assists.
The Bearcats will play host to three games this week in the East-West Shoot-Out, with action taking place in the new Bluffs Middle School gym.
On Thursday, Scottsbluff entertains McCook (8-12) at 7 p.m., with the evening beginning with junior varsity action at 5:30 p.m. The Class B Bearcats then invite Class A North Platte (7-10 but 4-0 against Class B opposition) to the BMS gym on Friday for action at the same times.
Saturday's JV game against Lexington starts at 12:30 p.m., with the
varsity contest at 2 p.m. Lexington (17-3) defeated Scottsbluff 57-28 on Dec. 29 in the semifinals of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament in Kearney.
“We've been practicing here (at Bluffs, where Burda teaches) in the mornings before school so the girls have a chance to get used to it,” Burda said. “These are all decent ball clubs.”
Since Scottsbluff and Lexington lost their respective final-round games in the GNAC Tournament on Dec. 30, Lexington in the championship to Columbus and Scottsbluff to Norfolk for third place, the Bearcats are 10-0 and the Minutemen have won seven straight and 10 of 11.
“At that point of the season, we were playing horrendous,” Burda said.