The Bison seem to get key contributions from different players each game, and last weekend's huge two-win tally was no different. McCook ran past Hershey, 46-15, in action Friday , Jan. 4, at the McCook Senior high gym. McCook posted a rare victory at Sidney Saturday, Jan 5., as the Bison came home with a 47-36 decision. The two wins ran McCook's season record to 9-2.
Bison first-year head coach Jeremy Yilk said the win at Sidney was first he could remember over the Red Raiders on the road in his eight years in the McCook basketball program.
"Sidney is just a tough place to play, all-around," Yilk said. "Every coach that you talk to, when you talk about Sidney, they say it's just a tough place to play. It was just a huge win for us."
A huge win over a possible Class B-6 District opponent, as the Bison, Red Raiders and Scottsbluff all will compete in the B-6 District late next month.
The two victories boosted the McCook boys to fourth in the Class B state power point standings.
THE BISON got off to a slow start Saturday, as did Sidney. Both teams suffered cool shooting as McCook led 8-4 after one quarter. The Bison led 20-17 at halftime before a big third period gave McCook some breathing room. The Bison outscored the hosts 15-6 to take a 35-23 cushion into the final quarter.
Cody Wudtke and Mack Alspaugh each hit 3-point shots for McCook in the productive third quarter. Wudtke's shot from the lane put McCook ahead 40-25 about three minutes into the final quarter. Sidney answered with an 8-0 run to pull within 40-33. The Bison used a free throw by Alspaugh, two more by Sean Backer and two more from Austin Cherry in the next two minutes to push the lead back to double digits at 45-33.
McCook did not shoot a free throw in the first half, but the Bison were 10 of 13 at the line in the second half.
Wudtke led the bison with 15 points. Cherry came off the bench for 10 points, including eight points in the second half that included a 5-for-5 effort at the line Alspaugh also had 8 points Saturday.
Coach Yilk likes the contributions he's getting up and down the roster.
"We had some spurts (at Sidney) where maybe some of our leading scorers were getting lot of attention anytime they were penetrating or getting in the lane," Yilk said. "Lucas Post had a flurry in the second quarter where he hit three baskets, all on assists from different people. We were getting (Sidney defenders) committed and we were finding Lucas for layups. That was huge for us."
McCOOK JUMPED on Hershey early Friday and it was no contest. McCook led 17-2 after one quarter and 25-8 at the halftime break. The Panthers had just two points in the third period as the hosts expanded the lead to 36-10.
Alspaugh led McCook with 13 points and Wudtke had 12.
Coach Yilk said his team's rebounding has been a strength in recent games.
"We're not giving up many offensive rebounds -- in both games (last weekend), and even going back to the Scottsbluff game (GNAC third place at Columbus Dec. 29), we've been out-rebounding our opponents," Yilk said. "We've been getting offensive rebounds ourselves, extending possessions and getting more chances to score. That's just huge. Obviously you limit (opponent's) opportunities and you get more opportunities, the odds are in your favor to score more points and just have better looks offensively."
COACH YILK said he is very pleased with the progress his team has made early this season. But he cautions that there is a lot of basketball yet to be played, and he wants to see continued improvement.
"I'm very pleased with where we're at right now," he said. "We still have a long ways to go in terms of our development and we're trying to make sure we're getting to the point where we're peaking at the end of the season come district tournament time."
The Bison travel to Hastings Friday, Jan.11, followed by a rare Saturday off from competition. The McCook boys will compete in the Orange & Black Classic in Colby, Kan. Jan. 17-19.