The Indians went toe-to-toe with the Bison early, but those shootout thoughts didn't last long. McCook used a surge late in the first quarter and a strong second period to run away from the Indians in a 68-32 decision. Friday's contest was played at the Ogallala Auditorium.
Ogallala packed in a tough zone defense early in the game, and McCook obliged by knocking down 3-point shots -- two by Zayne Gillen and another by Sean Backer. The hosts answered with a couple threes, and the score was knotted at 11-11 midway through the opening period.
The second quarter was all McCook, as the Bison went on a 24-7 tear to lead 46-22 at the break. Alspaugh had a pair of 3-pointers as the Bison scored 13 unanswered points to start the quarter. Backer dropped in another long-range bomb late in the period as McCook connected eight times beyond the 3-point arc.
McCOOK'S STRONG first half was highlighted by crisp passing, as the Bison continued to pass up good shots for even better attempts with one or two extra passes.
"We're really playing unselfish basketball as a team," said senior Austin Cherry. "No one's thinking they have to take their shots, trying to get their points. People are passing from a decent shot to a better shot. We're just knocking down out shots.
"(Opponents) are going to play zone (defense), so we just need to be able to move the ball, be patient and our shots will come to us like that."
BISON HEAD COACH Jeremy Yilk said his squad is developing a strong attack against zone defenses.
"Going into the Orange and Black Tournament where we started seeing a lot more zone, we're starting to really figure that out," Yilk said. "They're understanding the spacing, they're understanding where we're going to get our good shots and what kind of ball movement we need. We executed very well tonight.
"I thought it was important that we had to shoot well because (Ogallala) shot really well. We had to answer every time. We got off to a quick start and they answered, and we kind of weathered their storm, and then we kind of put the clamps down and were able to go on a run ourselves."
McCOOK HELPED hold the hosts to just seven points in the third quarter. The Bison tallied 16 points in the third period as McCook built a comfortable 62-29 lead entering the final eight minutes.
Coach Yilk cleared his bench and gave the regulars some well-deserved rest and his reserves some well-deserved varsity playing time.
"Those guys that came in there late, they work so hard in practice, they deserve some time," Yilk said. "It was great, they went in there, they played really well."
The Bison coach said he told his backups to start the fourth period that scoring wasn't critical, but he wanted them to get stops defensively. Ogallala scored just three points in the final quarter.
"That was great to see," Yilk said.
THE BISON enjoyed balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Alspaugh led the way with 15 points. Backer had 14 points, Lucas Post added 13 and Wudtke had 10.
Ty Neill paced Ogallala with 12 points.
The Bison missed just one of nine free throw attempts in Friday's contest.
McCOOK TAKES a 15-3 record into three key games this week in the annual East-West Shootout. The Bison will enjoy the home-court advantage against three Nebraska panhandle and three Class B-6 District opponents in three straight days, starting Thursday, feb. 7, with 8-9 Alliance. A huge showdown against 15-3 Scottsbluff is on tap Friday, Feb. 8, followed with a Saturday, Feb. 9, afternoon matinee against 11-7 Gering.