Led by a double-double from Tori Glazier, the Custer High School girls basketball team opened its 2017-18 campaign with a resounding 64-34 win over the visiting Newcastle, Wyo., Dogies last Saturday evening at the Armory.
Glazier had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the game and was joined by fellow seniors Tayler Carlson and McKenzie Becker as double-digit scorers as the Wildcats opened up an early lead and never looked back.
The ’Cats broke out to an early 7-3 lead courtesy of a Kenzie Hetley three-pointer, and led 18-7 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a Glazier steal and layup, a Becker three-pointer and an interior basket by Mallory Delmont.
The three-pointers (eight in the game), steals and layups were recurring themes for Custer throughout the game, as the swarming Wildcat defense forced the Dogies into turnovers early and often.
“The defensive effort was at a new level,” head coach Steph Ornelas said. “We always tell our girls to play tough defense; the offense is already there. I think they have really bought into that.”
Ornelas said the addition of Becker, a transfer from Hill City, has allowed Glazier to become a rover of sorts on defense, using her track endurance to create havoc for opposing offenses.
Another Hetley three-pointer off a kick out on the break from Becker put Custer up 27-10, which was followed by another Glazier steal and layup. A baseline drive and basket from eighth grader Josey Wahlstrom put Custer up 17.
Ornelas said she liked what she saw from Wahlstrom and others who came off the bench in the game, all of whom were seeing their first varsity minutes. Ornelas said the bench players overcame early nerves to get the job done.
“Once they got in and got their feet wet they were pretty good,” she said. “I was very impressed with how active they were.”
The only minor hiccup from the team came late in the second quarter when Newcastle went on a 9-3 run to cut Custer’s lead to 34-23 at the half, which Ornelas said was created primarily by players getting too comfortable with a large lead. The lack of hustle and defense at the end of the quarter was addressed at halftime, Ornelas said.
“We got after them at halftime about being more aggressive,” she said. “We did well after that.”
The team switched to a 1-3-1 zone on defense in the second half, going away from its man-to-man it played in the first half. The result was a 9-0 run to start the third quarter that included another Glazier steal and layup and a Becker steal and layup sandwiched by a pair of Carlson three-pointers. Carlson finished the game with 17 points, while Becker added 13.
The Wildcats ended the third quarter up 52-29 after a Glazier basket off an offensive rebound and went up 31 points early in the fourth quarter via a Becker three-pointer.
The Wildcats shot 44 percent from the field, which included a 44 percent effort from three-point range. That, combined with the players’ selflessness and willingness to make the extra pass in the game, had Ornelas singing the team’s praises.
“The girls have really been working in practice on focusing on the team aspect of things,” she said. “I’m pleased with the way we worked together. We focused a little more on patience on offense. We have rushed our offense over the years. We can do more with set plays, running our offense and getting a better shot.”
The Wildcats will make their annual trek to Rapid City for the Lakota Nation Invitational this week, beginning Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Ice Arena. The girls enter the tournament as the fifth seed, and will face Standing Rock in the opening round.
As is always the case, playing four games in four days will mean the Wildcats won’t have much time in terms of analyzing mistakes or game planning for opponents. Rather, Ornelas said, the team will simply show up each day and play hard.
“That’s the fun thing about LNI. There isn’t much stategic planning. We are just going to play basketball,” she said.
Custer 18 16 18 12 —64
Newc 7 16 6 5 —34
Custer—Mallory Delmont 1-5 0-0 2, Kenzie Hetley 3-6 0-0 8, Tori Glazier 9-15 2-2 20, McKenzie Becker 5-14 0-1 13, Josie Wahlstrom 1-1 0-1 2, Sadie Glade 1-1 0-0 2, Tyrae Johnson 0-2 0-0 0, Tayler Carlson 6-15 2-2 17. Totals: 26-59 4-6 64.
Newcastle, Wyo.—Madison Pearson 0-1 2-2 2, Lexus Voelker 5-15 4-4 14, Mackenzie Wagoner 1-3 0-0 2, Carson Quigley 0-2 0-1 0, Sarah Henkle 2-7 1-2 5, Laren Lacy 3-15 2-5 9, Sara Sweet 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 12-46 9-14 34.
Three-point goals: Custer 8 (Carlson 3, Becker 3, Hetley 2). Newcastle 1 (Lacy). Rebounding: Custer 18 (Glazier 10), Newcastle 22. Steals: Custer 7 (Carlson 3). Assists: Custer 11 (Glazier 4, Becker 4). Turnovers: Custer 10, Newcastle 12. Total fouls: Custer 16, Newcastle 9. Fouled out: none.