Boys drop Tigers to snap skid

By Jason Ferguson

Reese Kelley tries to drive by the defense of St. Thomas More’s Connor Hollenbeck during last Thursday night’s game at the Armory. Kelley had only two points against the Cavaliers but scored a career-high 16 points Saturday against Oelrichs.

A six-game losing streak came to an end in emphatic fashion for the Custer High School basketball team last Saturday as the Wildcats overcame a slow start to bury the visiting Oelrichs Tigers 72-46.
“I think it’s huge for the kids’ morale,” head coach Paul Kelley said of the team getting its second win of the season. “It makes it easier to go to practice as we move into the second half of the season. It’s just nice to get a win, for all of us. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re getting beat up game-in and game-out.”
It didn’t appear the team would break its losing streak at the outset of the game, as the Tigers quickly jumped out to an 8-0 lead before Nolan Patzlaff scored Custer’s first points at the 6:20 mark of the first quarter.
After the Tigers went up 11-4 following a Nick Tobacco basket, the Wildcats got to within two points thanks to a Jace Kelley three-pointer and a Grant Sullivan basket.
Oelrichs maintained a four-and five-point lead for much of the second quarter, but Custer finally broke through after three-pointers by Reese and Jace Kelley knotted the score at 24-24. The team took its first lead with 1:08 left in the half thanks to a Patzlaff made basket on which he was fouled and a subsequent free throw.
Custer maintained the lead going into the half on the most improbable of plays when Reese Kelley, falling out of bounds along the baseline at the corner of the court, heaved a shot that went over the backboard and found nothing but net for three of his 16 points in the game.
The momentum from that shot seemed to carry over into the second half as the Wildcats dominated from that point, turning a three-point lead into a 12-point lead after Dominick Milliken hit a corner three-pointer to make the score 43-31 with 2:43 left in the third.
The Wildcats continued to pour it on, as Reese Kelley hit consecutive Patzlaff-assisted three-pointers from nearly identical spots on the court to put the Wildcats up 51-33. Reed Ashmore put an exclamation point on the quarter when he put back his own miss off an inbounds play that began with only 1.6 seconds on the clock.
“When Reese hit that (end of half) shot, it kind of got us jump started a bit,” coach Kelley said.
Oelrichs got no closer than 20 the rest of the way, and Custer enjoyed a 48-20 advantage on rebounds in the game.
Kelley said the second half of the game was easily the most fun half the team has had all season.
“The energy, the smiles on the kids’ faces, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “We haven’t had many of those (games). There were so many positives, and it made the kids feel better about themselves.”
Last Thursday the Wildcats hung tough for a half with the visiting St. Thomas More Cavaliers before eventually falling 57-30.
The Wildcats were down early 8-3, with their only basket coming from a banked-in three-pointer from Jace Kelley. Kelley followed that up with a three-pointer from the corner moments later, and Patzlaff tied the score with a jumper.
Custer went ice cold after Patzlaff’s jumper, however, as More went on a 15-0 run stretching to the end of the first quarter and well into the second quarter before Isaac Powers stopped the bleeding for the Wildcats with a basket inside. By that point, the Wildcats had gone around eight minutes without scoring and were down 27-12.
Ryder Kirsch, who scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, answered Powers’ basket with an elbow jumper and the Cavaliers took a 29-16 lead into halftime.
The third quarter is where the Cavaliers began to pour it on, outscoring the Wildcats 20-4 in the quarter with the help of relentless full-court pressure and in-your-face defense. The Cavaliers also destroyed the Wildcats on the glass, outrebounding the ’Cats 28-13 in the game and getting second, third, fourth and even fifth shot attempts on offensive possessions.
“Their height caused us some major problems. Everyone can complain about how physical STM is, but we know that going in, that it’s going to be a physical game,” Kelley said. “We just didn’t play as physical as they did. We just kind of backed away from it. If they’re not calling things you have to give it a little more effort. You have to be willing to compete against a team that plays physical against you.” 
A three-pointer by Caden Casey at the 6:06 mark in the third quarter put More up 32-16, which was followed by a Kirsch three-point play with a basket, foul and free throw that made the score 37-16 in favor of More.
Jace Kelley tried to mitigate the damage with a drive and scoop for a basket, but that basket was immediately answered by a Kirsch three-pointer, and Custer went into the fourth quarter down 29 points at 49-20.
“We got off to a decent start. We have done that the last three games against More,” Kelley said. “It would just be nice to sustain that.”
Tomorrow the Wildcats, now 2-9 on the season, will welcome Newell to the Armory in a game slated for a 7:30 p.m. tip. The Irrigators are another Class B team and are 6-4 so far this season.
On Saturday the team will head to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for a matchup with a Red Cloud Crusader team that has only lost one game this season. That game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. tip.
Kelley said Newell is a team they are just learning about, but like the game against Oelrichs, the team will need to play well. As for Red Cloud, Kelley said the Crusaders are especially tough on their home court and will undoubtedly try to ratchet up the game speed on both ends of the floor, particularly on defense with a full court press.
“They are going to press us the entire game. If we can handle it, we can get some things going on offense,” he said. “If we can’t, it could be a very, very, long night.”
Custer 11 13 27 21 —72
Oelrichs 15 12 6 13 —46
Custer—Nolan Patzlaff 5-12 6-7 17, Reese Kelley 6-10 0-0 16, Dustyn Fish 2-5 0-0 4, Daniel Hernandez 0-1 0-0 0, Dathan Elmore 0-1 0-0 0, Jace Kelley 2-10 2-6 7, EJ Gonzalez 1-2 0-0 3, Isaac Powers 2-2 1-2 5, Daniel Sedlacek 0-0 1-5 1, Grant Sullivan 1-1 0-0 2, Dominick Milliken 2-3 0-0 5, Reed Ashmore 4-7 4-4 12, AJ Kortemeyer 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 25-54 14-26 72.
Oelrichs—Zip Fast Wolf 1-3 2-2 5, Charlie Swallow 4-12 2-4 11, Mike Winters -5 1-2 1, Toby Swallow 0-3 1-3 1, Nick Tobacco 2-3 0-0 5, Benny Benson 1-4 0-2 2, Jason Long Soldier 4-7 1-5 9, Jeremiah Braveheart 2-6 0-0 5, Aaron Brings Him Back 1-4 0-0 3, Joseph Braveheart 2-4 0-0 4. Totals: 17-51 7-18 46.
Three-point goals: Custer 8 (R. Kelley 4, Patzlaff, J. Kelley, Gonzalez, Milliken), Oelrichs 5 (Fast Wolf, Swallow, Tobacco, Je. Braveheart, Brings Him Back). Rebounding: Custer 48 (Ashmore 11), Oelrichs 20 (Long Soldier 7). Steals: Assists: Custer 20 (Patzlaff 6), Oelrichs 11. Turnovers: Custer 13, Oelrichs 7. Total fouls: Custer 13, Oelrichs 20. Fouled out: Benson. Technicals: Benson 2.
Custer 10 6 4 10 —30
STM 19 10 29 6 —55
Custer—Nolan Patzlaff 2-6 3-9 10, Reese Kelley 0-1 2-2 2, Dustyn Fish 0-2 0-3 0, Jace Kelley 3-9 0-0 8, Isaac Powers 2-2 0-1 4, Daniel Sedlacek 0-0 1-2 1, Grant Sullivan 1-1 0-0 2, Reed Ashmore 1-3 1-2 3, AJ Kortemeyer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 10-28 6-16 30.
St. Thomas More—Michael Gylten 0-2 1-2 1, Carter Janssen 0-3 0-0 0, Grant Huber 1-1 1-2 4, Connor Hollenbeck 2-4 0-0 5, Caden Casey 5-10 2-2 15, Jake Bohnenkamp 0-3 0-0 0, Ryder Kirsch 7-12 4-6 19, Boone Biegler 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Wojcik 2-5 2-3 6, Joe Poeppel 0-1 0-2 0, Kale Landguth 2-4 1-4 5. Totals: 19-46 11-21 55.
Three-point goals: Custer 4 (Patzlaff 2, J. Kelley 2), STM 6 (Casey 3, Huber, Hollenbeck, Kirsch). Rebounding: Custer 13, STM 28 (Kirsch 8). Assists: Custer 10, STM 15. Turnovers: Custer 9, STM 8. Total fouls: Custer 23, STM 19. Fouled out: Patzlaff, R. Kelley.