Boys tear down Wall, fall to Spearfish

Jason Ferguson

Three players in double figures and domination on the glass led the Custer High School boys basketball team to a convincing 71-36 win over the visiting Wall Eagles last Saturday evening at the Armory.
Kyle Virtue and Cade Lehman scored 16 points apiece in the win, while Rhett Lowe was also in double figures with 10 points. Custer also grabbed 37 rebounds compared to the visiting Eagles’ 18. Cody Dirkes had 10 rebounds to lead the Wildcats.
“We just capitalized on some things,” said head coach Paul Kelley, saying the Wildcats played more zone defense in the game due to missing starter Gage Grohs with an illness as well as a recent displeasure with the team’s man-to-man defense. “I thought we played pretty well there. It helped the kids become a little more aggressive.”
Custer didn’t dominate immediately, as Wall hung around until around the 4:50 mark of the first quarter when Lowe hit a three-point to put Custer up 11-9. From there the Wildcats went on a 14-1 run, which included a pair of Lehman baskets and a Virtue three-pointer.
A Drew Lehman three-pointer at the 6:19 mark of the second quarter put Custer up 31-13 and began another big Custer run that saw the Wildcats up 40-17 with 1:28 left in the half after a Virtue three-point play. Roland Sedlacek, a 6-5 sophomore, drew the start in Grohs’ absence, and scored Custer’s final points of the half as the Wildcats led 44-19 at the break.
“Roland did a great job starting his first varsity game,” Kelley said. “He’s a big, strong kid. He did a lot of good things.”
The Wildcats had a bit of a sloppy start to the second half, but midway through the third quarter went up 51-24 after a Carter Boyster drive and layup that was followed by an up-and-under move from Sedlacek for a basket. By the time there was 3:34 left in the quarter Custer had taken a 30-point lead, which began a running clock for the remainder of the game.
“Our kids coming off the bench did a great job. They are coming along, so we are pleased with that,” Kelley said. “We got on a roll. It was a fun game for us. Hopefully it’s a sign we’re about to turn the corner.”
Things didn’t go nearly as well last Thursday evening, however, as the Wildcats traveled to Spearfish and were defeated soundly by the Spartans 75-52.
Kelley said the Wildcats got off to a good start in the game, but ultimately didn’t match the Class AA Spartans’ physically. The Spartans also buried 12 three-pointers in the game.
“We can (match them physically), we just don’t,” Kelley said. “They pushed us around. A lot of people don’t realize, especially when you play there, that’s their (Class AA) style of play. It’s a more physical style of play than we are used to.”
Kelley said the Wildcats didn’t have a lot of turnovers and shot the ball fairly well, but were hurt by a lack of rebounding and the game’s free throw disparity.
The Wildcats, 7-10, have three games this week, two of which will be huge in terms of region seeding. The Wildcats are currently fifth in the region, just behind Hill City and just ahead of Belle Fourche, both of which the Wildcats have defeated this season. If the Wildcats can move into fourth place, it means a home region game.
The games start Thursday evening when the Wildcats host Lead-Deadwood in a game that will be played at the Hermosa School gymnasium. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m.
“I’m excited for that game. I think it’s great for our communities,” Kelley said. “We are building a team with kids who are split between Custer and Hermosa.”
Lead-Deadwood is playing out the string of a long season, sitting at 4-14 for the year. Despite that, Kelley said the team must play hard and work to improve as they head into other games in the coming days.
“We don’t want to take two steps forward and one step back,” he said.
Saturday the Wildcats have a much bigger game when the 15-1 Hot Springs Bison come to the Armory for a 6 p.m. tip. The Wildcats lost to the Bison by eight points earlier this season in Hot Springs.
“We do have the kids who can beat them. I hope we are ready to play,” Kelley said. “We need to limit their fast break points and make them play more of a half-court game.”
Monday the Wildcats close out the regular season with a 7 p.m. game at Hill City. The Wildcats and Rangers played a barnburner Jan. 20, a game Custer won by one point.
However, Hill City will be without the services of arguably its best player in Monday’s game, as 6-5 center Erick Jorgensen is out for the remainder of the season with an ankle injury.
“These three games are very important,” Kelley said. “Hopefully we can make the move to get the number-four seed.”
Custer    25    19    17    10    —71
Wall    10    9    8    9    —36
Custer—Cade Lehman 6-7 1-4 16, Jackson Wiles 0-0 1-2 1, Brady Virtue 0-1 0-0 0, Rhett Lowe 4-13 1-2 10, Cody Dirkes 1-3 0-0 2, Drew Lehman 3-6 0-0 7, Kyle Virtue 7-10 2-2 16, Roland Sedlacek 3-3 3-5 9, Jaxson Heger 1-1 0-0 2, Carter Boyster 2-6 2-4 6, Alex Van Horn 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 27-50 12-21 71.
Wall—Dawson Handcock 4-8 1-1 12, Jace Mohr 0-10 4-4 4, Brodi Sundall 2-4 2-2 6, Cedar Amiotte 2-8 1-4 5, Trevor Schulz 1-1 1-1 3, Carter Sundall 0-3 0-0 0, Sawyer Sandal 0-1 0-2 0, Ben Amundson 2-8 0-0 4, Kyler Kjerstad 1-1 0-0 2, Chase Carlbom 0-2 0-1 0. Totals: 12-47 8-15 36.
Three-point goals: Custer 5 (C. Lehman 3, Lowe, Virtue), Wall 4 (Handcock 3, Schulz). Rebounding: Custer 37 (Dirkes 10), Wall 18. Steals: Custer 8, Wall 7. Assists: Custer 10. Turnovers: Custer 14, Wall 10. Total fouls: Custer 14, Wall 13. Fouled out: none.
Spearfish 75, Custer 52
Custer—Cade Lehman 6-15 0-1 14, Rhett Lowe 7-16 0-0 18, Cody Dirkes 0-2 0-0 0, Drew Lehman 0-1 0-0 0, Gage Grohs 0-1 0-0 0, Kyle Virtue 6-10 0-0 12, Roland Sedlacek 1-1 1-4 3, Carter Boyster 2-4 1-2 5. Totals: 22-50 2-7 52.
Spearfish—Dylon Doren 6-8 0-0 14, Carter Lyon 4-6 0-0 10, Seth Hamilton 4-11 5-6 15, Tony Serrano 5-13 4-4 16, Carter Gibbs 0-1 1-2 1, Brody Janvrin 1-1 0-2 2, Smith Funke 2-5 3-5 8, Tayte Schatz 2-2 0-0 6, Caden Lagenfeld 1-5 0-0 3.
Three-point goals: Custer 6 (Lowe 4, K. Lehman 2). Spearfish 12 (Doren 2, Lyon 2, Hamilton 2, Serrano 2, Schatz 2, Janvrin 1, Langenfeld 1). Rebounding: Custer 26, Spearfish 34. Steals: Custer 7, Spearfish 8. Assists: Custer 13, Spearfish 18. Turnovers: Custer 14, Spearfish 10. Total fouls: Custer 12, Spearfish 7. Fouled out: none.

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