Wildcats hang on against Spearfish

Jason Ferguson

Boosted by 16 points from Josey Wahlstrom and 15 from Ally Cass, the Custer High School girls basketball team put another win against a Class AA opponent in the ledger when it defeated the Spearfish Spartans 46-41 last Thursday evening at the Armory.
After a break-neck schedule of four games in six days the previous week the matchup against the Spartans was the team’s only game last week, and it was close throughout with neither team leading by more than seven points at any point in the game.
“I thought they did a nice job of playing together,” Custer head coach Tobey Cass said. “It was a good game. Spearfish is a well-coached team that has some good players. I told the girls it would be a dog fight all the way through.”
The Wildcats found  themselves down with over half of the second quarter gone, but tied the game at 17-17 thanks to an Ally Cass three-pointer. The Spartans regained the lead moments later via a Brylee Grubb basket.
The Spartans continued to lead for the first two minutes of the second quarter, but the Wildcats tied the score at 22-22 thanks to a Wahlstrom basket on which she was fouled and made the subsequent made free throw. Wahlstrom gave the team the lead moments later when she drove to the hoop for two points, and had a hand in extending the lead when she found Cass for an open three-pointer and a 27-22 lead.
A Stella Marcus three-pointer cut the Custer lead to four, and the Spartans went into the half trailing by only three points after a Jozie Dana basket.
Marcus scored 38 points against the Wildcats a year ago, and the ’Cats made sure to pay extra attention to where she was at on the court this time around.
“We put different players on her. It’s nice to have that flexibility,” Coach Cass said. “It’s nice having defenders who don’t mind getting in there and taking care of business.”
The third quarter again saw Ally Cass and Wahlstrom lead the Wildcat scoring charge, with a Cass three-pointer extending the Custer lead to five, followed by a Wahlstrom basket on the break that gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 39-32.
Spearfish wouldn’t go away, however, as Dana hit a pair of three throws and Marcus nailed a three-pointer to cut the Wildcat lead to four at 42-38 with just over a minute left in the game.
The Spartans also racheted up the defensive pressure and started to force Wildcat turnovers, and one such turnover led to a Mya Kochuten three-pointer that cut the Custer lead to one.
Custer’s next possession resulted in one of those “no, no, yes!” moments as Cass shot a three-pointer as the Wildcats were trying to run down the clock and draw fouls, and fortunately for Custer it rattled home and put the Wildcats up four.
“That probably wouldn’t be textbook of how you end a game when it’s close like that,” Coach Cass said of the shot and expecting his daughter to run time off the shot clock. “I asked her ‘what the heck,’ and she said she knew it was going in. I told her ‘you’re lucky that went in.’ I don’t know what I would have done if she missed that.
“She was feeling it. Sometimes you can’t fault shooters for that.”
Spearfish missed a three-pointer on their last possession, and Bailey Cass corralled the rebound and was fouled. She made one free throw to provide the final points in the game.
“We came out and stuck to the game plan. We had times when we were scoring pretty well and times when we weren’t scoring as much as we hoped. We have to weather those storms,” Coach Cass said.
The Wildcats, now 10-8 on the season, will close out their regular season Thursday evening when they travel to Lead-Deadwood for a 6 p.m. tip. The ’Diggers have had a tough go of it this season, and come into the game with a 1-18 record, having only beat Oelrichs.
“They are having a tough year. We’ve all been there. I know how it feels,” Coach Cass said. “It doesn’t matter who you are playing or what their record is. We have to play hard every game.”
Next Tuesday the postseason starts for the Wildcats, as they will play in first round Region 8A action. The Wildcats will likely play the Hill City Rangers in that contest, but whether that game will be played in Custer or Hill City has yet to be determined.
The two teams have played twice this season, with Custer narrowly defeating the Rangers last month. The second game between the two was last night, with the result unavailable before press time. The result of that game may very well determine on which court the region matchup is played.
“It’s going to come down to execution and who makes their buckets,” Cass said. “They’re not going to do anything that surprises us, and we’re probably not going to do anything that surprises them a whole lot.”
Custer    10    7    17    12    —46
Spear    10    10    9    12    —41
Custer—Allie Kelley 0-2 0-1 0, Ramsey Karim 1-4 0-0 3, Josey Wahlstrom 6-12 4-8 16, Ally Cass 4-9 3-5 15, Ally Cass 4-9 3-5 15, Alice Sedlacek 3-15 1-3 7, Bailey Cass 0-4 1-2 1, Kellyn Kortemeyer 2-4 0-1 4. Totals: 16-50 9-20 46.
Spearfish—Sofie Guthmiller 0-5 0-2 0, Tayler Duncan 2-6 1-2 5, Stella Marcus 5-12 1-3 13, Alivia Heairet 0-2 0-0 0, Kylee Jo Symonds 0-3 0-0 0, Brylee Grubb 3-11 4-7 10, Jozie Dana 1-7 3-4 5, Ava Muth 0-2 0-0 0, Mya Kochuten 3-12 0-0 8. Totals: 14-60 9-18 41.
Three-point goals: Custer 5 (A. Cass 4, Karim), Spearfish 4 (Marcus 2, Kochuten 2). Rebounding: Custer 47 (Wahlstrom 9, A. Cass 7, Sedlacek 7), Spearfish 45 (Grubb 8). Steals: Custer 10, Spearfish 8. Assists: Custer 9, Spearfish 10. Turnovers: Custer 21, Spearfish 15. Total fouls: Custer 14, Spearfish 21. Fouled out: Duncan.


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