Scottsbluff girls basketball coach Mike Burda was in an upbeat mood following Saturday's game against Rapid City Stevens.
No, the Bearcats didn't find a way to topple the talented Raiders, who pulled away in the second half for an 81-54 victory at Scottsbluff High School. But Scottsbluff did hang with Rapid City Stevens for about two and a half quarters, and the Bearcats appeared to take a giant step forward offensively as they scored more than 50 points in a game for the first time this season.
“I thought we did a good job,” Burda said. “They're a big, physical, quality team that we knew we were probably going to struggle with a little bit. But I thought we competed extremely well. We're coming out of this game with a huge positive.”
Scottsbluff trailed just 43-30 at halftime, and the Bearcats still were within 48-35 with about 5 minutes left in the third quarter. But Rapid City began surging after that, building its advantage to 62-42 at the end of the third stanza and then inching even further ahead in the final 8 minutes.
“We're a team right now that needs to be able to put together a full game,” Burda said. “I think we just kind of ran out of gas. Their physicalness and their athleticism kind of got to us, but I think right now we're going in the right direction. The girls should be happy about where we're at.”
Indeed. Scottsbluff enjoyed one of its best halves of the season offensively in the first two quarters. The Bearcats, in fact, jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead and then stretched their advantage to 15-9 with 3 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first quarter. Multiple Scottsbluff players came up big in the Bearcats' early flurry, including senior Alexus Pinedo, who scored nine of her team's first 15 points.
Pinedo gave Scottsbluff a six-point cushion with an old-fashioned three-point play, but after that, Rapid City caught fire. The Raiders put together an impressive 15-2 run to end the first quarter and go up 24-17. Rapid City's Gabby Haefs, who led all scorers with 23 points, ignited the Raiders late in the first quarter when she nailed three straight 3-pointers to give her team a 22-15 lead. Haefs ended the game with five treys.
Although Rapid City had all the momentum going into the second quarter, the Bearcats did battle back. After Haefs opened the second stanza with yet another 3-pointer, boosting Rapid City's lead to 27-17, Scottsbluff went on a 7-0 tear to pull back within 27-24. The Bearcats still trailed just 30-26 with about 4 minutes left in the first half.
And even though Rapid City ended the first half with a 13-4 run to take a 13-point advantage at halftime, Burda was still quite pleased with his team's first-half performance, especially on offense.
“Offensively, we're doing a great job,” he said. “We're shooting the ball better. Our confidence is better.”
Three Scottsbluff players finished the game in double figures in scoring. Toni Rosado, who went 7-for-8 from the free-throw line, had a team-high 15 points. Kiley Guerue had 14 points, and Pinedo ended with 12.
Scottsbluff (1-13) will hit the road for its next few games, beginning Tuesday at Torrington. The Bearcats will then play at Alliance on Feb. 1 and at Sidney on Feb. 2.
Rapid City Stevens, which improved to 5-8 on the season, had two other players join Haefs in double figures in scoring. Taylor Molstad chipped in 15 points, and Shelby Shorb added 14.
Rapid City Stevens (5-8) 24 19 19 19—81
Scottsbluff (1-13) 17 13 12 12—54
Liz Cunningham 2, Alexus Pinedo 12, Zoe Holscher 7, Kiley Guerue 14, Chesney Walker 4, Toni Rosado 15
RAPID CITY STEVENS
Virginia Vifquain 3, Taylor Molstad 15, Kendra LaCroix 6, Madi Hay 4, Ally Gilliland 6, Shelby Shorb 14, Gabby Haefs 23, Brooke Bennett 4, Marissa Hirchert 6..