McCook boys bounce back for weekend split

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Steve Kodad/McCook Daily Gazette Bison senior Sean Backer takes aim at the basket on this 3-point shot attempt against Lexington Jan. 26 at the McCook Senior High gym. Backer knocked down a pair of long-range shots in the second quarter to help the McCook boys blast Lex, 68-32.

The Lexington boys may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time Saturday, Jan. 26, at the McCook Senior High School gym.

The Bison thumped the Minutemen, 68-32, one night after McCook suffered a 53-48 loss on the road to Class C-1 unbeaten Kearney Catholic.

Perhaps the frustration of a slow start at Kearney and a tough loss -- just the third this season for the Bison -- fueled McCook in Saturday's blowout over the 3-14 Minutemen.

Steve Kodad/McCook Daily Gazette McCook junior Wesley Burkert (31) focuses on the rim as he shoots the basketball Jan. 26 against Lexington at the McCook Senior High gym. Burkert scored eight points off the bench to help the Bison boys beat Lex, 68-32. McCook bounced back from a 53-48 loss at Kearney Catholic Friday, Jan. 25.

"You never know how you're going to bounce back from an emotional loss, or an emotional game," said McCook head coach Jeremy Yilk following Saturday's win. "I'm really proud of the kids the way they've bounced back after each loss that we've had. We bounce back, we move on and we're ready to take on the next opponent. Tonight we were able to take it out on Lexington a little bit.

"We learned a lot from (Friday) night against Kearney Catholic. We were able to move on and apply it to (Lex). We're also going to go back and watch some film and break it down, and continue to watch film and learn about ourselves and make sure we peak at the right time."

SATURDAY'S contest turned into a track meet early, with McCook winning most of the races downcourt.

The Bison broke a 2-2 tie with 18 unanswered points, including a slam dunk by Cody Wudtke, and consecutive 3-point baskets by Zayne Gillen, Austin Cherry and Mack Alspaugh. McCook led 23-6 after one period.

The onslaught continued in the second quarter, as McCook scored 18 unanswered points to take a 41-8 lead to the locker room break. Sean Backer knocked down two more long-range shots for the Bison in the second quarter.

McCook hit six shots from 3-point range in Saturday's win. The Bison didn't make a 3-pointer in the first half Friday in the loss at Kearney Catholic as McCook managed just 14 points before halftime.

The win over Lex featured strong passing throughout the contest. Those passes led to high-percentage shots under the basket and contributed to wide-open looks from the 3-point line.

"We talk getting touches in the paint -- that mean feeding our post players, that means driving to the basket, getting offensive rebounds, getting to the free throw line," Coach Yilk said. "I thought for the most part (Saturday) we did a very good job of getting our touches in the paint, scoring and taking advantage of our opportunities. At the same time, when we were getting those touches inside --whether we were hitting the high post or a corner, we were able to kick (the ball outside) and get some wide-open 'threes' also. So it was good to see our offense clicking, and we just executed really well."

YILK WENT to his bench early Saturday against Lex, and the reserves played extensive minutes through the final three quarters while allowing the Bison starters to rest. The Bison head coach said he was happy to see his back-up players execute well and put the ball in the basket.

"They are still learning, still trying to figure out the speed of varsity game, so this was good experience for them," Yilk said.

Ten Bison players got in the scoring column against Lexington, led by Mack Alspaugh with 13 points and Cody Wudtke with 11. Zayne Gillen, Sean Backer and Wesley Burkert each had 8 points, and Austin Cherry and Peyton Stagemeyer added 6 points each.

THE McCOOK boys struggled early in Friday's showdown of two of the state's top boys teams. The Bison entered the contest ranked first in both the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star's Class B state Top 10. Kearney Catholic was second in both Class C-1 Top 10 rankings.

The host Stars led 10-6 after one quarter and 20-14 at intermission. Coach Yilk gave Kearney Catholic credit for a strong defensive effort against his team, especially in the opening half.

"Give credit to Kearney Catholic, they by far gave us the most trouble with their defense and their ability to pressure us," Yilk said. "They didn't allow us to get comfortable one bit on offense. It took awhile for us to kind of get a rhythm going offensively. As each quarter went, we scored more points. We just kind of ran out of time.

"I'm proud of my kids, they stayed in the game, they didn't really get down on themselves. They stayed with the plan and gave ourselves a chance at the end. Kearney Catholic did enough to seal the win, and they're a very good team."

The Stars stretched the lead to 39-27 after three quarters before McCook closed the gap in the fourth period by outscoring the hosts 21-14. McCook got within five points with a late run, but the Stars scored their final five points at the free throw line to preserve the win.

Cody Wudtke scored 12 of his team-high 18 points in the second half for the Bison. Sean Backer added 13 points -- eight in the second half.

Alex Liess led 16-0 Kearney Catholic with 13 points.

McCOOK TAKES a 14-3 record to its Friday, Feb. 1 contest at Ogallala. Coach Yilk expects another tough road test from the Indians. He said Ogallala has been a tough place for the Bison to play in recent years. McCook will have the luxury of concentrating on just one opponent for next weekend's schedule.

McCook's boys will host Class B-6 District foes Alliance, Scottsbluff and Gering Feb. 7-9 in the annual East-West Shootout.

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