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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Strong second half pushes Bison girls past Lexington

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Steve Kodad/McCook Daily Gazette McCook senior Brooklynn Trew (31) drives for a layup against Lexington in girls basketball action Jan. 26 at the McCook Senior High gym. The Bison girls rallied in the second half to beat the Minutemaids, 46-38.
There was little doubt as to who was going to win the Jan. 26 varsity girls basketball game between McCook and Lexington.

Well, at least after the start of the fourth quarter.

McCook got a tougher-than-expected test from the Minutemaids, as McCook overcame a slow start and cold shooting to top Lex, 46-38, at the Senior High gym.

Steve Kodad/McCook Daily Gazette Brenleigh Daum (3, left) of McCook drives to the basket against Lexington defender Mackenzie McKeone (31), with Lex teammate Molly Woockman (13) looking on during girls basketball action at the Senior High gym Jan. 26. The Bison girls improved to 15-3 overall with a 46-38 comeback win over the Minutemaids.
The Bison girls improved to 15-3 overall with the win in their only game of the weekend. Lexington fell to 5-12.

Entering Saturday's action, McCook was the heavy favorite against the Minutemaids. The Bison have been solid all season and are included in the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star Class B girls Top 10 rankings.

The Lexington girls have scored 40 points in a game just once this season, a 42-40 overtime win over Hastings at the GNAC Tournament consolation semifinals Dec. 28 in Columbus.

Somebody forgot to tell the Lex girls they weren't supposed to win.

"Lexington came to McCook and forced us to have to win this ball game," said McCook head coach Jeff Ellis. "I think down the road we will appreciate this win even more, because we had to go and win it. Lex just didn't give us anything. That's a credit to (Lexington) for showing up and being ready for us and making us have to work."

Ellis and his squad will have to guard against perhaps looking past any other opponent the rest of this season.

"I think it would be safe to say none of us expected to have to work this hard. I'll take some blame for that for maybe myself having the mindset of not having to work that hard. We're going to work our tail off the rest of the way out. I'm going to make sure all our girls understand that.

"I think they understand that. We just let it get away from us in the first half and we had to re-establish it in the second half."

McCOOK'S cool shooting in part helped Lex take a 10-6 lead after one quarter. McCook still trailed by five points late in the second period when senior Brooklynn Trew turned in perhaps the key play of the contest.

McCook had the ball under its own basket with two seconds remaining after Lexington deflected the ball out of bounds. Trew took the inbound pass on the right wing and calmly drilled a 3-point shot at the buzzer to pull the Bison girls within 19-17. Trew's long-range shot was McCook's lone made 3-pointer in the contest.

McCook tied the score at 22-22 on Rachel Goltl's two free throws early in the third quarter, then the Bison took a 24-23 lead on Kassidy Gillen's shot from the lane a minute later. McCook outscored Lex 8-3 the rest of the third quarter to take control at 32-26 entering the final eight minutes.

LEXINGTON PULLED within five points early in the final period. Goltl hit back-to-back field goals, and Brenleigh Daum and Madison Chitwood each hit a pair of free throws to boost the McCook advantage to 45-32.

Lex outscored McCook 6-1 in the final minute to narrow the final margin.

Coach Ellis said his team started the game strong, then for some reason things went sour in the opening minutes.

"We were two or three steps quicker than them to start the game, the first two or three possessions, and then the next five or six possessions we were steps slower than (Lex)," Ellis said. "That's a little frustrating. It ended up being OK in the grand scheme of things in terms of us getting the victory."

THE BISON GIRLS hit just one of 11 attempts beyond the 3-point line. Coach Ellis said his team struggled to hit shots in the first half, but the Bison girls kept shooting from long range and kept missing.

"When those shots are going in, everything's gravy train," Ellis said. "When those shots aren't falling, we've got to be smart enough to do some other things -- get to the free throw line, get into the paint to draw fouls to put us on the free throw line. Turn those 20-foot jumpers into short bank shots early when shots are off little bit."

Ellis said his team did a much better job in the third quarter working the ball inside for high-percentage shots with crisp passing.

"We created high-percentage buckets in the paint," Ellis said. "That's easy offense. That's momentum, that's confidence."

The Bison had a balanced attack, led by Goltl with 12 points and Trew with 9. Molly Sughroue added 8 points, Megan Ruppert had 6 and Gillen 5. Casey Seberger of Lexington led all scorers with 16 points, including a trio of 3-point shots in the opening quarter.

THE BISON GIRLShave another single-game weekend ahead with a trip to Ogallala Friday, Feb. 1, followed by a trip to the panhandle Feb. 7-9 for the annual East-West Shootout and games against Alliance, Scottsbluff and Gering.

"We've got to be road warriors and we have to embrace that target on our backs," Ellis said. "We're going to get Ogallala's best. We're going to the best in all three shootout games. We have to prepare like these are district tournament games -- win and advance."

The Bison girls are battling with Sidney for the top seed in the Class B-6 District Tournament that will start Feb. 19. McCook is currently fractions of a point ahead of the Red Raiders for the top spot in the B-6 District, which includes Alliance, Gering and Scottsbluff.

McCook won the district title last season and earned a berth in the Class B state tournament for just the third time in Bison girls basketball history.

McCOOK'S junior varsity girls defeated Lex Saturday, 27-21.

Tiara Schmidt scored 7 points and Alaini Priebe added 6 to pace the Bison reserves.

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