Taylor Peters and Aspen Reifschneider combined for 24 points, and the Mitchell girls basketball team earned back-to-back Western Trails Conference championships with a 45-33 win over Gordon-Rushville in Saturday's final at WNCC's Cougar Palace.
The Tigers, who captured their 16th win of the season, have now won eight straight. This win, however, was special for the Tiger players as they now have won both volleyball and basketball conference titles.
For Peters, who is the only senior on the team, this title means a lot.
“It is awesome to win it,” Peters said. “We were three-time conference champions in volleyball and now two times in basketball.”
The last time a girls team won back-to-back WTC basketball tournament titles was in 2008 and 2009 when Kimball achieved that feat.
Saturday's title was the Tigers' ninth WTC conference championship. The Tigers won five straight from 1992-1996.
Peters said expect good things from Mitchell basketball in the future.
“We have some good athletes coming up, so you'll have some good things coming from Mitchell basketball in the next couple years,” she said.
What won the contest for the Tigers was their stingy defense and an offensive game plan that included taking time off the clock and looking for great shots.
Peters said the Tigers are getting their slowed-down offense down to perfection.
"A lot of us can shoot,” she said. “We also have Kady, Celeste, and Felina down low, and it is just an awesome thing we have going, I guess, with our offense.”
Mitchell also enjoyed a solid defensive performance. Gordon-Rushville put up 52 points in a win over Hemingford on Friday, but on Saturday the Tigers held the Mustangs to just 33 points, including just single digit scoring in three of the four quarters.
Peters said the defense really stepped up.
“When we played Bridgeport, our defense wasn't as good as it should have been,” she said. “We really picked it up against Kimball and Gordon-Rushville, and that defensive intensity really showed a lot.”
Mitchell was blazing hot in the first quarter, opening with a 5-0 lead on three free throws by Reifschneider and a putback by Peters. After a bucket by Josie Perez, the Tigers went on an 11-4 run to lead 16-6 after one.
Gordon-Rushville started to find its flow in the second quarter, cutting the lead to 18-12 on four points from Perez and two points from Ashton Sasse. The Mustangs cut even deeper into the lead, slicing the gap to 24-21 on a 3-pointer by Sasse and a bucket by Kenna Campbell. Mitchell led at halftime, though, 26-21.
Mitchell widened the lead in the third, outscoring the Mustangs 9-5, including strong inside play from Lower for a 35-26 lead after three periods.
Mitchell then ran its slowed-down offense to near perfection in the fourth period. After Perez hit a bucket to start the scoring for the Mustangs, the Tigers went on an 8-1 run to lead 43-29, which included clutch free throw shooting and a trey by Peters.
Gordon-Rushville had six players in the scoring column, led by Perez with 14 points and Campbell and Sasse with five each.
Peters collected 13 points for the Tigers, while Reifschneider had 11 and Kady Lower had nine.
Mitchell will next be in action Friday when it hosts Ogallala before traveling to Sidney on Saturday.
Mitchell 16 10 9 10 – 45
Gordon-Rushville 6 15 5 7 – 33
Celeste Cardona 1, Aspen Reifschneider 11, Kady Lower 9, Taylor Peters 13, Felina Blanco 4.
Denie Jacobson 2, Josie Perez 14, Kenna Campbell 5, Ashton Sasse 5, Carlee Hinn 4, Dani Campbell 3.
Kimball boys down Bridgeport in title game
The Kimball boys basketball team captured its eighth straight Western Trails Conference Tournament title Saturday with a 49-33 win over Bridgeport in front a nearly packed Cougar Palace.
In the end, the matchup between two of the top basketball teams in the Panhandle was indeed a battle. The win Saturday came after Bridgeport thumped Kimball 74-57 at Bridgeport.
Kimball's Mike Daum said he knew it was going to be a tough game.
"I can't say anything bad. Bridgeport played their hearts out, and I knew they were going to give us a game,” said Daum, who is headed to play basketball at Division I South Dakota State. “Bridgeport played good and we just came out feeling it. We played good with intensity. Our defense was good and our guards handled the ball. It was just a great win all the way around.”
Kimball loses five seniors on this year's team, including Daum, who tossed in 18 points, including three long-range, fade-away 3-pointers. Daum said he will enjoy this win and remember the dynasty they have built in the Western Trails Conference Tourney. The Longhorns have won the championship every year since 2007.
“It is a great run and it is unbelievable for us to keep the streak up this long,” he said. “I am going to take this and keep this in my heart. This is truly awesome. This was a great all-around win, and you know, good job to the Bridgeport Bulldogs. I know they will be gunning for us in sub-districts, but we know we have to bring it, too.”
The first quarter was a back and forth battle as Kimball held a slim 10-8 lead. It was the second quarter that told the story, as Kimball went on an 11-0 run, holding Bridgeport to without a bucket until 2:55 left in the quarter when Jaime Gonzalez hit a bucket. Kimball went into the locker room ahead 25-12 after Gonzalez knocked in a buzzer-beater.
Daum said the second-quarter run was huge.
“That [defense] was one thing that we really focused on in the game,” he said. “The last time we played them they scored 70 points on us and we said that we have to keep them under 50 in this game and that is what happened. We were able to play good defense.”
In the third quarter, the Longhorns outscored Bridgeport 7-4, including a buzzer-beater by Colton Stull for a 32-16 lead.
Bridgeport battled back, slicing the lead to 10 points at 37-27 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Quentin Baxter and Kaleb DeCora, but the Bulldogs couldn't get any closer.
Bridgeport had three players score in double figures. Baxter led the team with 12 points, while DeCora and Jasom Amateis each had 10.
Daum led the Longhorns with a double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds. Jake Reader pitched in 12 points.
A big difference in the game was free throw shooting as Bridgeport did not attempt one free throw, while Kimball was 9 of 25.
Kimball (16-3) will next be in action Friday when it hosts Hemingford, while Bridgeport (14-4) will travel to Morrill and Gordon-Rushville next weekend.
Kimball 10 15 7 17 – 49
Bridgeport 8 4 4 22 – 38
Henry Heeg 2, Colton Stull 7, Jonathon Withrow 3, Michael Ferguson 7, Michael Daum 18, Jake Reader 12.
Kaleb DeCora 10, Jason Amateis 10, Quentin Baxter 12, Jaime Gonzalez 6.
Girls 3rd-Place Game
Hemingford 61, Kimball 47
The Hemingford girls basketball team used a 29-point fourth quarter to down Kimball 61-47 on Saturday in the third-place game of the Western Trails Conference Tournament at WNCC's Cougar Palace.
The Bobcats had a balanced scoring attack as 10 players reached the scoring column. Brooke Turek, a freshman, led the Bobcat attack with 20 points followed closely by 19 points from freshman Natalie Gasseling.
Kimball had control of the contest in the first half, running out to a 6-0 lead before holding a 10-6 advantage after one period. In the second quarter the Longhorns held a 15-10 lead before Hemingford sliced the deficit to 15-14. The Longhorns came back, outscoring Hemingford 7-4 to hold a 22-18 halftime lead.
The second half is when Hemingford really shined. In the third period, the Bobcats took a 29-28 lead before Danika Daum had an old-fashioned three-point play for a 33-29 lead. After a 3-pointer by Hemingford's Christian Rozmiarek, Kimball got a bucket by Arica McCloud for a 35-32 lead after three.
The fourth quarter was all Hemingford. With the score tied at 39-39, the Bobcats cranked up their defense and went on a 12-0 run to lead 51-39.
Kimball was paced by Daum's 21 points followed by Shelby Vogel with eight points and McCloud with seven.
Kimball 10 12 13 12 – 47
Hemingford 6 12 14 29 – 61
Arica McCloud 7, Jessica Hanks 3, Madison Biesecker 3, Kelly Green 3, Shelby Vogel 8, Danika Daum 21, Mariah Tyan 2.
Precious Campbell 3, Ashleigh Galles 3, Brooke Turek 20, Christian Rozmiarek 3, Natalie Gasseling 18, Kaitlyn Kumpf 2, Kaitlyn Bergfield 1, Faith Rohrbouck 4, Cali Rohrbouck 6, Paige Phillips 1.
Boys Third-Place Game
Mitchell 50, Hemingford 48
Mitchell's Jamie Fegler hit a 12-foot jumper with 7 seconds to play to lift the Tigers to a 50-48 win over Hemingford on Saturday in the third-place game of the Western Trails Conference Tournament at WNCC's Cougar Palace.
Fegler, who tallied 13 points, was one of three Tigers who finished in double figures. Mitchell was led in scoring by Nick Harriger with 15 points, while Bo McVay finished with 11.
Hemingford had one player finish with double-digit scoring — Colt Foster with 14 points. Brady Turek had eight points.
The contest was back and forth. Mitchell held a slim 10-8 lead after the first 8 minutes. In the second quarter, Hemingford took a 13-12 lead on a free throw by Matthew Wood. Mitchell came back to take a 17-15 lead before Jameson Forgey hit a bucket to tie game at 17-17. Mitchell then went on a big run to lead 27-19 before settling for a 27-20 lead at halftime.
Mitchell led 41-36 after three, setting up a dramatic fourth quarter. Hemingford fought back to tie the game at 43-43. Mitchell came back to take a 48-44 lead on a driving bucket by McVay and two free throws by Harriger.
Hemingford came back as Wood got a bucket to cut the lead to two, and then Brady Turek got a steal off an inbounds play and hit two free throws with 37.8 seconds to tie the game. That set up Fegler's winning shot.
Hemingford 8 12 16 12 – 48
Mitchell 10 17 14 9 – 50
Jameson Forgey 4, Brady Turek 8, Colt Foster 14, Kyle Kaman 4, Matthew Wood 6, Blake Hansen 3.
Antonio Barrios 2, Adam Slotthauer 2, Bo McVay 11, Nacho Rocha 4, Jamie Fegler 13, Alex Morales 3, Nick Harriger 15.