GOTHENBURG, Neb. -- A win's a win, and the McCook High School girls basketball team won't offer any apologies to Gothenburg for perhaps stealing a "W" Dec. 18.
The Bison girls squeaked by the Swedes, 41-40, in action at Gothenburg High School Tuesday night.
After back-to-back tough weekends, perhaps the McCook girls were a bit weary entering Tuesday's contest. Bison head coach Jeff Ellis knows his team can play better, and he also credited 2-5 Gothenburg with a strong effort. But what mattered most to Ellis and his squad was the final score.
"A win's a win, that's how we're viewing it. We're going to take it and roll with it," Ellis said. "We get another opportunity (Thursday) to maybe play a little bit better basketball this week before the break. Hopefully. Mother Nature will have a say in that.
"We didn't play that well, but we kind of stayed the course and when it mattered at the end, when the buzzer sounded, we were a point better than them. We're going to take it. We're not going to bog down too much on figuring out why we looked so bad or why we looked so sluggish throughout the game. We're going to just accept the fact that we didn't play our best basketball, we can play better, we got a 'W', we got the heck out of there, we got home."
McCook's girls improved to 7-1, with a home game scheduled Thursday, Dec. 20 against Phillipsburg, Kan. The Bison team and McCook fans will wait and see if Wednesday's blizzard forces alterations to Thursday's schedule.
EARLY IN Tuesday's contest, it looked like the Bison would catch fire and run past the Swedes. McCook stretched a 10-6 first-quarter lead to 19-8 midway through the second period on a steal and layup by Rachel Goltl, a layup by Megan Ruppert and another lay-in by Madison Chitwood.
But Gothenburg wouldn't fold. Led by Regan Geiken, the Swedes battled back and cut the halftime margin to 20-15.
Geiken, who led all scorers with 20 points, spurred a 6-0 run to start the third quarter as Gothenburg took a 21-20 lead. The teams traded the lead several times, with Brooklynn Trew's two free throws late in the third period putting McCook ahead 28-27.
Goltl stole a pass early in the fourth quarter, and she hit one of two free throws, then Trew scored after a Gothenburg turnover to put McCook ahead 31-27. Kassidy Gillen then knocked down a shot from the free throw line to give the Bison a six-point lead.
McCook led 37-31 with just over three minutes remaining on Goltl's basket from the lane. Gothenburg answered with four straight points to cut the lead to two points. Ruppert scored consecutive field goals on drives to the hoop to put the Bison in control at 41-35 with 22 seconds left. Geiken answered with a three-point play seconds later to get the Swedes within three points.
After a McCook turnover, Gothenburg pushed the ball downcourt and Emily Franzen scored off an offensive rebound. But the clock ran out before McCook put the ball back in play.
Trew led the Bison with 11 points, while Ruppert had 8 points, with Goltl, Molly Sughroue and Gillen added 6 points each.
McCook is scheduled to host Phillipsburg, Kan. Thursday evening, but that game may be in jeopardy, depending on the extent of the winter storm forecasted Wednesday.
Coach Ellis is hoping his team can play Thursday and turn in a good effort to gain momentum for the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament at Columbus Dec. 27-29.
THE McCOOK GIRLS have drawn the second seed in the GNAC Tournament. McCook will open the conference meet Thursday, Dec. 27 against seventh-seed Hastings at 5:30 p.m. at the Raider Fieldhouse on the Central Community College campus north of Columbus.
The Bison head coach was pleased with the high seed in the GNAC Tournament, knowing that the rest of the league teams are respecting his team with the strong start in the 2012-13 season.
"They're respecting us because of the body of work that we've put together thus far, and rightfully so," Ellis said. "We talked a little earlier that we felt like we were the one or two seed, and they gave us the two seed. I like the way everything looks for us in that tournament."