Girls split a pair of games at Chadron tourney

Jason Ferguson

It was one big win and a close loss for the Custer High School girls basketball team last weekend in Chadron, as the Wildcats continued their early-season trend of alternating wins and losses as they blasted Hemingford, Neb., 64-24 in the opening round of the George Watson Rotary Club Classic before losing to Chadron, Neb., 52-45 in the championship game. Both games were played in the Chicoine Center on the campus of Chadron State College.
It was a balanced attack that led the Wildcats in the game against Hemingford, as plenty of players got into the game in a rout that saw the Wildcats force a staggering 61 LadyCat turnovers. Kylee Ellerton and Maya Tennyson both had eight steals.
“We subbed quite a bit. We got to see a lot of different lineups on the court,” head coach Tayton Vincent said. “Hemingford struggled at times. There were times we didn’t let the ball get past half court because of our pressure defense.”
Because the class the Nebraska schools play in has no shot clock, the Wildcats made even more of an effort to push the pace.
“Both games the pace was where we wanted it to be,” Vincent said. “We got a lot of people in the scoring column. A lot of people contributed across the board. We had a lot of fast break opportunities. The game was won defensively.”
Another positive is that senior forward Bailey Cass, still recovering from a knee injury suffered last basketball season, was able to play more minutes in the game.
Ellerton and Tennyson paced the Wildcats in points, with 10 each. Tennyson also had a team-high eight rebounds.
It was foul trouble with the team’s guards and the unavailability of two other guards that haunted the team against Chadron, as the Cardinals used a big run during a four-minute stretch in the third quarter to take a lead it would never relinquish.
Jordyn Uphoff was unavailable for the game after tweaking her knee a day earlier in the Hemingford game, and both Kylee Ellerton and Jayda Bennett had four fouls in the third quarter. Combine that with cramping issues for Jojo Larsen, and the Wildcats struggled with turnovers during that key four-minute stretch in the third.
“We were turning the ball over too many times and couldn’t convert on the open opportunities we had,” Vincent said. “That was really the difference in the game. We were hesitant in the decisions we made. We’ve talked about that and worked on that. You have to handle the adversity that comes.”
The Wildcats also struggled shooting, especially from three-point range, where they came up empty on 19 attempts.
The Cardinals jumped out to the early lead in the game, but Vincent said the Wildcats stuck with what they had been doing to get back into the game and were rolling before the game was stopped for around a half hour when one of the game officials collapsed with a medical emergency. The official was said to be alert as he was taken from the gym.
The game resumed after the teams were given another 10-minute warmup.
“They opened it up, and we continue to fight. We had our opportunities down the stretch,” Vincent said. “Kudos to them. Their kids hit some big shots at key moments.”
Foul trouble has been an issue for the Wildcats in the early part of the season, but Vincent said the fouls are part of the deal with the running, pressing style Custer plays.
“We have to be up and pressure and use our speed and quickness defensively,” he said. “Over the course of 32 minutes you’re going to have some fouls.”
Tennyson had a double-double in the loss, scoring 19 points while pulling down 10 rebounds. Ellerton added 13 points.
The Wildcats have a busy week ahead of them, including last night when they headed north to take on a Sturgis Scooper team that is 1-2 on the season.
“The (Class) AA game of basketball is typically more physical. We’re going to have to match their physicality and be ready to go for the full 32 minutes,” Vincent said.
Saturday the team heads east to Mitchell for the Sacred Hoops Classic at the Corn Palace, where it will take on Milbank, a team that qualified for the SoDak 16 last year and returns a bevy of players from that team. The Bulldogs are 2-3 on the season.
“Their record doesn’t tell the story. The played a couple of teams on the cusp of being ranked. They will definitely be a challenge,” Vincent said. “It will take a whole team effort to slow them down.”
Next Tuesday the Wildcats will head to Rapid City for a matchup with the St. Thomas More Cavaliers, a team that is perennially a state tournament contender and a team that has owned Custer for a decade or more.
“They may not have a key player like they have the last couple of years, but they play well together and are well-coached. They will be ready to play,” Vincent said.
Tipoff against the Cavaliers is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Custer    12    11    13    9    —45
Chadron    9    14    15    14    —52
Custer—Jayda Bennett 2-7 0-0 4, Jordyn Larsen 2-6 1-2 5, Kylee Ellerton 6-19 1-4 13, Bailey Cass 0-5 0-0 0, Maya Tennyson 6-10 7-7 19, Keira Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Borkowski 2-3 0-2 4, Katelyn Nelson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-55 9-15 45.
Chadron—Jaleigh McCartney 1-4 0-0 3, Cali Hendrickson 0-2 2-2 2, Reese Ritterbush 0-1 0-4 0, Demi Ferguson 5-8 3-6 13, Taegan Bach 0-1 0-0 0, Kyndall Carnahan 1-1 1-2 3, Grace Pyle 4-5 0-0 9, Ava Pyle 1-1 0-0 2, Taverra Sayalune 5-12 3-7 13, Lucy Rischling 0-1 2-2 2, Haylee Wild 2-2 1-2 5. Totals: 19-38 12-25.
Three-point goals: Chadron 2 (McCartney, G. Pyle.) Rebounding: Custer 27 (Tennyson 10), Chadron 33 (D. Ferguson). Assists: Custer 14 (Larsen 7), Chadron 16 (G. Pyle 5). Steals: Custer 14 (Ellerton 6), Chadron 6. Turnovers: Custer 22, Chadron 26. Player fouls: Custer 24, Chadron 17. Fouled out: Ellerton.
Custer    17    16    8    23    —64
Heming    7    5    8    4    —24
Custer—Jayda Bennett 2-7 0-0 5, Lauryn Robb 1-4 0-1 2, Jordyn Larsen 4-9 0-0 9, Shayleigh Forgey 1-5 0-0 2, Kylee Ellerton 3-11 3-3 10, Bailey Cass 0-5 2-2 2, Maya Tennyson 5-20 0-3 10, Rylan Lowe 1-6 0-0 2, Jordyn Uphoff 0-5 0-0 0, Emily Borkowski 2-5 4-4 8, Kylee Pulscher 3-7 0-0 9, Taylor Bland 1-4 1-1 3. Totals: 23-89 12-18 64.
Hemingford—Dakota Horstman 0-2 2-4 2, Teagan Thompson 4-10 4-5 12, Brookelynn Warner 1-2 0-0 2, Kylie Kumpf 1-1 1-2 3, Mikayla Kumpf 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Swanson 1-1 2-2- 4, Emma Hitchcock 0-4 0-0 0. Totals: 7-22 10-15 24.
Three-point goals: Custer 6 (Pulscher 3, Bennett, Larsen, Ellerton). Rebounding: Custer 47 (Tennyson 8), Hemingford 38 (Thompson 13). Assists: Custer 15, Hemingford 2. Steals: Custer 36 (Ellerton 8, Tennyson 8), Hemingford 12. Turnovers: Custer 26, Hemingford 61. Player fouls: Custer 18, Hemingford 15. Fouled Out: M. Kumpf.

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