The Custer High School girls basketball team rebounded from a couple of lopsided losses at the Lakota Nation Invitational with a pair of wins and a tournament championship at last weekend’s Chadron (Neb.) Rotary Classic on the campus of Chadron State College.
“It’s good momentum going into our Black Hills Conference season,” said head coach Steph Ornelas. “It was good wins against some good teams.”
Last Friday the team opened the tournament with a 55-40 win over Valentine, Neb., led by Tori Glazier’s 20 points.
The team stormed out to a 22-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter thanks in large part to a full court press that forced a bevy of Valentine turnovers. Custer continued to build its lead until the third quarter, when Ornelas said the team “thought (Valentine) would roll over,” which never happened. Instead, Valentine rallied and got within five before Custer was able to retake control and come away with the 15-point win.
“We quit being patient on offense, which led to easy baskets for them,” Ornelas said. “They were outworking us on both ends of the floor. We tried to lose the game, but with about four minutes left the girls started to amp up the defense, be more patient on offense and get good shots.”
Kenzie Becker chipped in 11 points in the win, while Tayler Carlson added nine.
In the championship game the Wildcats broke out to an early lead and held off a game Chadron team 54-43. Ornelas said the Cardinals were taller than the Wildcats but overall it was an evenly-matched game.
“We did a much better job of moving the ball on offense and getting good shots instead of two passes and then chuck it up for a prayer,” she said. “We ran our offense more smoothly.”
Ornelas also praised the defensive effort, saying the Cardinals didn’t get much going on offense outside of second-shot opportunities and some out-of -bounds plays where the Wildcat defenders were caught napping.
Becker led a balanced scoring attack with 15 points while also pulling down eight rebounds. Glazier and Carlson both added 13 points.
This week the team heads north for a matchup with the Hill City Rangers on Thursday before returning home for a game against Sturgis Saturday. The Hill City game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., while the Sturgis game will have a 2:30 p.m. tip.
The Rangers are 3-3 and are riding a three-game winning streak, although Ornelas said they are a young team with a new head coach.
“They are rebuilding right now,” she said.
Sturgis, on the other hand, she said, has an athletic senior class and is better than its 2-4 record may suggest.
“They will be a very good matchup for us,” Ornelas said. “They move the ball well and play tough defense.”