It may have ended up a loss in the standings, but Custer High School girls basketball coach Mick Patzlaff said he felt his Wildcats played their best game of the year last Saturday evening in a 52-45 loss to the Sturgis Scoopers.
The Scoopers, 7-1, had trouble putting away the pesky Wildcats, who Patzlaff said executed well early in their half court offense, eventually forcing the Scoopers to switch from man defense to a zone.
“We got some good shots. We played pretty well defensively and we rebounded better,” Patzlaff said. “The big one was we took care of the ball better. We didn’t turn it over nearly as much as we did (Jan. 3) against Hill City.”
The Scoopers led by only one point at halftime, and were only able to get separation when Patzlaff had to take out Mallory Delmont and Josey Wahlstrom to allow them to get some rest late in the game. The Wildcats were already down two guards going into the game, as neither Tobie Zerbe or Caitlyn Spring played due to injury.
“I’m thrilled with Mallory. She plays extremely hard. Josey played well again,” Patzlaff said.
Sadie Glade did the heavy lifting on offense for the Wildcats in the game, as she poured in 26 of the team’s 45 points. Kellyn Kortemeyer added eight points.
“Sadie has put together some really solid offensive games, and she is coming along defensively,” Patzlaff said. “Kellyn played pretty well and started to board well in the Sturgis game.”
Last Thursday night the team dropped its home opener to the visiting Hill City Rangers 55-38.
The game was a slog for the Wildcat offense for much of the first half, as five-second calls, turnovers and an inability to make shots hurt the team.
“We just didn’t make good decisions with the ball. We didn’t want to move, and we stood around and watched,” Patzlaff said. “When you have an aggressive defense like Hill City, standing around and watching doesn’t work out well. We learned a lot from that game.”
After falling behind 5-0 the Wildcats were able to tie the game, and subsequently take the lead thanks to four straight points from Glade, who led the team in scoring in the game with 18 points.
The Rangers took the lead back for good shortly thereafter, however, thanks to a pair of Whitney Edwards free throws and a Kadyn Comer layup off of one of Custer’s several turnovers in the game.
Wahlstrom drove for a basket to break a roughly five-minute scoring drought for Custer at the 5:39 mark of the second quarter, but the Wildcats continued to struggle to run their offense and didn’t score again until a Kortemeyer putback late in the frame.
The Wildcat defense was not stuck in neutral, however, and kept Custer in the game as the Rangers managed only 20 points themselves in the first half and took only a 20-15 advantage into halftime.
Glade started the third quarter with a three-pointer that cut the Ranger led to two points, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Another Comer layup sparked a Ranger run, which was added to by a Kally Knutson three-pointer. Knutson was also able to bang her way inside for a basket, which was followed by a long baseline jumper by Abby Siemonsma that made the score 37-26 in favor of the Rangers.
Custer entered the fourth quarter down 13 points, which ballooned after another Siemonsma basket, followed by a steal and basket on which she was fouled by Abby Siemonsma, The ensuing free throw gave the Rangers a 52-35 advantage.
“I was super happy with our effort. We got after it and so did Hill City,” Patzlaff said. “We just didn’t take care of the ball and we had trouble getting looks at the basket. We get to see those guys again. We will see if we can continue to improve and do a better job against them next time.”
The Wildcats, 5-4, have only one game on the docket for the week, a home matchup with the 5-1 Wall Eagles Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Armory.
Wall features the strong post presence of 6-0 center Mercede Hess and returns much of the team that had little difficulty with the Wildcats last year in Wall.
“They just destroyed us last year. We were never in that game,” Patzlaff said. “They come out and play hard, so we have to be ready. They are strong and physical.”
Custer (vs. Sturgis)—Mallory Delmont 1 1-2 3, Sadie Glade 10 0-0 26, Josey Wahlstrom 0 2-2 2, Kelsey Herman 1 2-2 4, Kellyn Kortemeyer 3 2-4 8. Totals: 15 7-11 45.
Three-point goals: Custer 6 (Glade 6). Total fouls: Custer 15. fouled out: none.
Custer (vs. Hill City)—Mallory Delmont 0 1-2 1, Sadie Glade 7 1-3 18, Josey Wahlstrom 2 2-3 6, Taylor Henrichs 2 0-0 4, Kelsey Herman 0 0-2 0, Kellyn Kortemeyer 2 3-7 7. Totals: 13 7-15 38.
Three-point goals: Custer 5 (Glade 5). Total fouls: Custer 21. Fouled out: Wahlstrom.