Wildcats pick up two more wins

Jason Ferguson

The Custer High School girls basketball team is off to its best start in years, as it ran its record to 7-1 last week with a convincing win over the visiting Sturgis Scoopers as well as a narrow win over Platte-Geddes at the Sacred Hoops Classic at the Mitchell Corn Palace last Saturday.
Neither team shot well in the matchup against the Black Panthers, as the Wildcats shot only 30 percent from the field, but Platte-Geddes was worse at 24 percent in the 38-33 Custer win.
Custer head coach Tobey Cass attributed the shooting numbers to a combination of poorer-than-normal shooting and strong defense by both teams.
“Our girls play tough defense. We generally hold teams to less than their average,” he said. “We work it, we preach it. We hustled and the offense comes from our defense. We weren’t making shots as well as we usually do, and they probably weren’t either.”
The Wildcats pulled out the win despite having both of their starting post players—Alice Sedlacek and Bailey Cass—spend most of the game in foul trouble. That meant more minutes for Maya Tennyson, who Coach Cass said acquitted herself well when thrust into the extra minutes.
“They were really big,” Cass said of Platte-Geddes, “They had three or four kids right around the six-foot range. They were tall and lanky.”
As a result, the Panthers outrebounded Custer 42-23, but Cass said that’s an area the team needs to work on regardless of the opposition’s size.
“It’s something we could do better at,” he said.
Ally Cass was the only Wildcat to crack double figures, with 10 points. Ramsey Karim added nine.
On Jan. 3 the girls welcomed the Sturgis Scoopers to the Armory for their first Black Hills Conference matchup of the season, and came away with a 60-43 win.
The Wildcats got off to a hot start, as Ally Cass hit three three-pointers in the first frame, while  Karim hit one of her own to stake Custer to an 18-9 first quarter lead.
Cass’ hot start quickly drew the attention of the Scoopers, as they employed a box-and-one defensive technique on Cass for the remainder of the time she was in the game, dedicating a defensive player solely to facing her and keeping her from getting the ball.
“I’m sure we’ll see it probably every game. Platte-Geddes did it too,” Coach Cass said of the defensive technique on Ally Cass. “We’re going to work on a few things to try to get her some open looks. The reality is that gives our other four players on the court a chance to step up and score some points.”
The tactic worked for a  while, as the Wildcat offense went cold and the Scoopers outscored the Wildcats 10-9 in the second quarter.
The Wildcats didn’t score their first points of the quarter until the 4:24 mark when Alice Sedlacek hit a pair of free throws. That was followed by a driving basket by Allie Kelley, which put the Wildcats up 22-13.
Sturgis answered with a Keeley Heikes three-pointer and another basket to cut the Custer lead to four, but a JoJo Larsen three-pointer put the ’Cats up 25-18 with the first half nearly done.
The third quarter is when Custer really started to separate from the Scoopers, starting with a pair of Bailey Cass baskets, including one on a nice pass from Sedlacek.
Later in the quarter Karim hit another three-pointer to put Custer up 11, and a pair of Sedlacek free throws made the score 40-25.
The Wildcats maintained a sizeable lead for the rest of the game, going up 16 on a Larsen steal and basket at the 3:21 mark and extending to a 20-point lead with just over a minute remaining in the game.
“They played really well as a team. That’s what’s nice about these girls. They are unselfish, they pass the ball well, they don’t care about stats,” Coach Cass said.
Ally Cass led Custer with 16 points, and was joined in double figures by Sedlacek, who had 11 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds. The Wildcats made 16 of 19 free throw attempts in the game, including a nine out of 10 effort from Sedlacek.
“We’ve really been working on free throws and it came to fruition that night,” Coach Cass said. “We want to be better at free-throw shooting than we were last year.”
The Wildcats have a pair of games in the coming week, the first being Friday night when the undefeated Red Cloud Crusaders bring a 7-0 record to the Armory. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“Red Cloud is a really good team. My guess it’s going to be a track meet,” Cass said. “Whoever handles the ball and has fewer turnovers will win the game.”
Next Tuesday the Wildcats will be back in the Armory for a matchup with the Wall Eagles, a team the Wildcats already defeated once this year, 57-45 at the Lakota Nation Invitational. That game will begin at 6:30 p.m.
“They have some size. It will be a back-and-forth battle again,” Cass said. “There is no gimme any night. The next two are going to be tough ones.”
Custer    14    10    7    7    —38
PG    9    5    13    6    —33
Custer—Allie Kelley 1-4 1-2 4, Ramsey Karim 3-15 0-0 9, JoJo Larsen 2-9 0-0 4, Bailey Cass 3-7 1-2 7, Kylee Ellerton 0-1 0-0 0, Ally Cass 4-8 0-0 10, Alice Sedlacek 2-6 0-0 4, Maya Tennyson 0-0 0-2 0. Totals: 15-50 2-6 38.
Platte-Geddes—Baleigh Nachtigal 0-6 1-4 1, Karly VanDerWerff 2-11 12-14 17, Regan Hoffman 1-2 0-3 2, Cadence Van Zee 3-5 2-2 8, Hadley Hanson 1-5 1-5 3, Kalli Summerville 0-1 0-0 0, Autumn Breukelman 1-1 0-2 2. Totals: 8-33 16-31 33.
Three-point goals: Custer 6 (Karim 3, A. Cass 2, Kelley), PG 1 (K. VanDerWerff). Rebounding: Custer 23 (Larsen 6), PG 42 (K. VanDerWerff 11). Steals: Custer 16 (A. Cass 8), PG 7. Assists: Custer 13, PG 4. Turnovers: Custer 14, PG 24. Total fouls: Custer 24, PG 11. Fouled out: B. Cass, Hanson.
Custer    18    9    15    18    —60
Sturgis    9    10    8    16    —43
Custer—Allie Kelley 2-4 0-0 5, Ramsey Karim 2-11 2-3 8, JoJo Larsen 3-6 2-2 9, Bailey Cass 3-7 3-4 9, Kylee Ellerton 0-1 0-0 0, Ally Cass 6-11 0-0 16, Alice Sedlacek 1-9 9-10 11, Maya Tennyson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 18-52 16-19 60.
Sturgis—Cali Ewing 3-4 1-4 8, Landry Haugen 2-4 4-5 8, Addisyn Jolley 0-5 0-0 0, Tori Williams 1-7 4-4 6, Avreigh Long 0-3 0-2 0, Keeley Heikes 3-6 3-4 11, Novali Dinkins 1-1 3-3 5, Sawyer Dennis 0-2 1-2 1, Rachael Banks 1-5 0-2 2, Katelyn Bush 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 12-39 16-26 43.
Three-point goals: Custer 8 (A. Cass 4, Karim 2, Kelley, Larsen). Sturgis 3 (Heikes 2, Ewing). Rebounding: Custer 25 (Sedlacek 9), Sturgis 33 (Haugen 8). Steals: Custer 12, Sturgis 5. Assists: Custer 14 (Larsen 6), Sturgis 8. Turnovers: Custer 16, Sturgis 29. Total fouls: Custer 22, Sturgis 20. Fouled out: Sedlacek.

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