Boys split games at Chadron tourney

Jason Ferguson

The Custer High School boys basketball team closed out the Chadron (Neb.) Rotary Classic last Wednesday, Dec. 29 with a convincing win over the Valentine (Neb.) Badgers in the third place game of the annual holiday tournament.
Three Wildcats cracked double figures in the win, led by Kyle Virtue’s 26 points, as the freshman hit 12 of his 19 shot attempts. Fellow post player Gage Tennyson scored 10 points of his own, while freshman guard Kade Lehman netted 10.
Valentine, which is winless on the season in Nebraska, came out in a man-to-man defense, which the Wildcats were able to exploit by pounding the ball inside to Virtue and Tennyson.
“We were able to take advantage of our inside game,” Custer head coach Paul Kelley said. “Valentine has some good athletes, but (not necessarily) great basketball players. We got our press going and fed off that.”
The Wildcats had 15 steals in the game and forced 26 Badger turnovers.
Kelley praised some of his younger (non-starters) who came in and got some minutes off the bench, including Lehman and Roland Sedlacek.
“There were some very positive performances in that game we can hopefully continue building from,” he said.
The day before against Chadron the Wildcats were blitzed at the outset of the game, as the Cardinals outscored the ’Cats 25-4 in the first quarter on the way to a 62-36 win in a game in which Kelley said the Wildcats didn’t really show up until it was too late.
“Plain and simple, we didn’t play hard enough,” he said. “We didn’t play good defense. We didn’t stop the ball. I don’t know if it was coming back from (Christmas) break, we just laid an egg.”
In contrast to the Valentine game where three Wildcats were in double figures, only one Wildcat—Rhett Lowe—cracked double figures against Chadron, as Custer shot 26 percent from the field.
“You can blame it on our offense but with this group, our mainstay has to be our defense and we didn’t play very well on the defensive side of the ball,” Kelley said.
Kelley said Chadron played a 1-3-1 zone against the Wildcats, which the team doesn’t see very often, and the team didn’t respond very well, for which he said he shares the blame.
Failing to play hard all game, however, is something that is a must, he said, and his younger players have to up their game as they will frequently run into players who are bigger, faster and stronger than they are. He said the team has a phrase it uses that it didn’t follow: work so hard you need to take yourself out of the game.
“We need our kids to buy into that,” he said. “I don’t know if we even needed to wash our uniforms after that game. We didn’t sweat.”
The Wildcats will head back out on the road this weekend when they head to the Corn Palace in Mitchell to play Parkston as part of Sacred Hoops Classic. The Trojans are 5-1 this season, with their lone blemish a loss to Winner.
“They are a lot like us. They prefer to play from the inside out,” Kelley said. “We’re going to have to do a good job of defending their posts. We need to take care of the ball and play good defense.”
Custer    20    13    23    12    —68
Valentine    12    7    15    10    —44
Valentine—Jack Lancaster 11, Cody Frank 8, Nathan Perrett 6, Lex Larsen 6, Andon Olson 4, Matt Gibson 3, Seth Vabra 3, Connor Kreitner 2, Cameron Jordan 1.  Totals: 15 (4) 10-23 44 points.
Custer—Kyle Virtue 25, Gage Tennyson 10, Cade Lehman 10, Rhett Lowe 7, Sawyer Schramm 6, Carter Boyster 4, Drew Lehman 2, Mikael Grace 2, Jackson Drew 1. Totals: 31 (3) 3-20 68 points.
3-pointers: Val—Frank, Larsen, Olson, Vabra, all 1. Custer—Lehman 2, Lowe 1.
Custer    4     8    11    13    —36
Chadron    25    10    12    15    —62
Custer—Rhett Lowe 11, Gage Tennyson 7, Carter Boyster 7, Kyle Virtue 5, Sawyer Schramm 3, Jackson Drew 2, Roland Sedlacek 1. Totals: 12 (5) 7-15 36 points,
Chadron—Xander Provance 15, Justus Alcorn 11, Gaurav Chima 10, Collin Brennan 9, Cody Hall 4, Broc Berry 3, Gage Wild 3, Caden Galbraith 3, Dawson Dunbar 2, Seth Gaswick 2. Totals: 25 (9) 7-13 62 points.
3-pointers: Custer—Lowe 3, Boyster 1, Schramm 1. Chad—Brennan 3, Chima 2, Berry, Wild, Alcorn, Galbraith, all 1.  


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