Bulldogs’ defense fuels sweep in Shoot-Out
     2012-02-16      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Gering’s Tyler Wallace (No. 30) stuffs the ball into the basket during Friday’s contest against North Platte. Gering won 60-41.
 
The D in Bulldogs was more than evident last week for the Gering boys’ basketball team in all four of their wins at the Gering High School gymnasium.­
Three of those victories came in as many days during the fourth annual East/West Shoot-Out, in which the Bulldogs rallied to beat McCook 50-49 on Thursday before rolling past North Platte 60-41 on Friday and Lexington 90-33 on Saturday.
The Gering girls were on the road for this year’s Shoot-Out slate and defeated North Platte 42-36 on Friday after falling to McCook 53-47 on Thursday and then 51-49 to Lexington on Saturday.
Add in their 49-44 win over Sidney on Tuesday before the Shoot-Out, and the Bulldog boys allowed an average of just 41.75 points per game for the week.
“It was a lot of fun,” Gering boys’ coach Randy Plummer said of the Shoot-Out sweep, which improved the Bulldogs to 17-4. “We’re playing really good ball right now and and we hope it continues.”
Gering had its toughest challenge of the weekend on the first night, with neither the Bulldogs nor McCook having more than a five-point lead. The Bison led 45-41 before Gering reeled off five unanswered points.
The Bulldogs took the lead 50-49 on senior Danny O’Boyle’s free throws with 18 seconds left, and senior Tyler Wallace defended a McCook winning shot attempt and grabbed the rebound, the last of his team-high 11 boards, to seal the win.
Senior Zach Smith began a huge Shoot-Out run by hitting five 3-pointers on his way to 24 points. Smith also had four assists and O’Boyle made four steals. Wallace’s rebounding led the Bulldogs’ 27-15 advantage on the boards.
Smith had just four 3-pointers against North Platte, but he was 11-for-15 from the floor on his way to tying his season-high of 29 points.
“Everybody’s picked it up,” Smith — who also had five assists, as did O’Boyle, along with seven steals — said of the Bulldogs’ recent success, which included a 13-point, eight rebound effort from senior Dillon Wademan against North Platte. “Dillon is playing tremendously, inside and outside.”
After forcing 26 North Platte turnovers, Gering forced Lexington into 25 miscues with 14 steals, led by junior Zac Bibb’s three thefts.
In the lopsided victory, Smith netted 18 points, while senior Derek Plegge and sophomore Gage Winkler utilized their time off the bench with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Wallace had eight rebounds, leading the Bulldogs’ 32-21 attack on the boards.
“We’re reaching the part of the season when you should be good at what you’re doing, and we’re building confidence and hopefully will keep doing it.”
Adam Freeburg’s Gering girls are 7-14 after their 1-2 weekend, but the second-year coach is not about to write off the season’s end just yet.
The Bulldogs’ win over North Platte “was probably one of the best games we have played from start to finish, which is great this late in the season,” said Freeburg, whose team held the host Bulldogs to 29 percent shooting. “It’s a big win anytime you go to a Class A team’s home court and win the way we did. We just played very good defense and controlled the boards.”
Gering dominated the boards 39-23, led by senior Bryana Larsen’s 12 boards, senior Kerissa Mitchell’s seven and senior Stephanie Coley’s six. Larsen also had three blocked shots, while senior Morgan Greene fueled the offense with 13 points.
The night before at McCook, Larsen had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, but the Bulldogs trailed 17-7 after one quarter and never fully recovered, Freeburg said.
“Our bench players definitely stepped up big and kept us in the game early,” the second-year coach said of Gering’s rally to back within four at halftime, 27-23. “We just dug ourselves too big a hole to get out of.”
Larsen had 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for the Bulldogs, while Mitchell had a team-high 10 rebounds with six points and three steals. Greene added seven points and senior Alexa Anderson netted six.
On Saturday, Gering met Lexington’s two-headed offensive monster in cousins Sydney and Casey Seberger, who combined for 44 of the Minutemaids’ 51 points – each with 22. Sydney had 18 points in the first half, which Lexington led 24-20 at the break, while Casey had 16 in the second half.
“In the fourth quarter we got to within one and had two chances to go ahead and we couldn’t get it to go down,” Freeburg said. “Morgan Broussard missed a running 3 at the end.
“It would have been easy for our girls to get down but the did a phenomenal job of competing when they could’ve given up,” Freeburg said. “I am extremely proud of their effort in the fourth quarter.
Larsen had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs, while
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Broussard also had 11 points along with three assists. Mitchell grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and scored seven points, while Greene had three assists.
The Bulldogs entertain Twin Cities rival Scottsbluff on Friday, with the girls’ 5:30 p.m. game their final tune-up before they open District B-6 play Tuesday as the No. 3 seed against No. 2 Alliance.
“It should be a fun atmosphere for our seniors to play in front of a packed house,” Freeburg said.
The district tourney’s site will be determined by Monday’s play-in game; if No. 4 McCook defeats No. 5 Scottsbluff, Tuesday’s semifinals will be at Perkins County High School in Grant. A Scottsbluff win over McCook, or any subsequent loss by the Bison, moves district action to Cougar Palace at Western Nebraska Community College.
Sidney is the No. 1 seed and will meet the McCook-Scottsbluff winner in Tuesday’s other semifinal, with the winners playing for the district championship and automatic Class B state tournament berth on Thursday, again with the site determined by McCook’s participation or not.
The Gering boys will be off until District B-6 action begins Feb. 25, with the site and schedule for Feb. 27 and 28 also determined by McCook’s status in the tournament. That bracket will be announced on Tuesday.
“We can play with anybody,” said Smith, who has signed to play baseball at WNCC. “We don’t have to be the tallest or biggest team but just play ball as a team.”
Dave Pauli reminds fans that for the Gering/Scottsbluff basketball game on Friday, Feb. 17, the games will be played at Gering High School with doors opening at 4:30. Girls start time will be at 5:30 p.m., with boys to follow at 7 p.m. Doors will close when occupancy of 1,500 is reached.
There will have a fundraising dinner available through in-kind donations. For $5, you will receive a Runza, chips and soda. The food will be served on the upper gym or behind the Gering student section.
Everything has been donated so that 100 percent of the profits will benefit Renee Lewandowski, longtime secretary at Gering High School, who has been battling cancer. The donations will help the Lewandowski family defray medical expenses.

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