GERING — The Leyton boys basketball team took a step closer to winning another Class D-2, Sub-district 11 title after cruising to a 56-37 win over No. 4 seed Banner County on Tuesday night at Gering High School.
“We looked OK, but we can play better. There’s always room for improvement,” Leyton coach Gary Oltmann said. “This is the first step in the second season. Now, we have to make one more Thursday night. I always look at it as two seasons, and the second one starts in your sub-district, district, and so on. We took the first step; now, we have to be ready to take the second step.”
Leyton got off to a solid start, jumping out to an 18-9 lead after the first period. However, Banner County matched the top-seeded Warriors bucket for bucket in the second stanza and trailed just 33-24 at the half.
Leyton, though, extended its advantage to 39-26 midway through the third. The Warriors held the Wildcats to just four points in the stanza to take a 42-28 lead going into the final 8 minutes of play.
The Warriors started the final frame with an 8-0 run to push the lead to 50-28 with 3:28 left to play. Banner County received 3-pointers from Ben Hostetler and Kadan Huber late in the contest, but Leyton held on to secure the 19-point win.
Oltmann said Banner County played well in the first half, but the Warriors made the proper adjustments to win the game.
“In the fourth quarter [Banner County] didn’t do a whole lot offensively, and we were able to control their offense,” he said. “They made some shots early and stayed right in the game with us. Then in the second half we were able to stretch it out a little bit.”
Despite the loss, Banner County coach Jim Wyatt was pleased with the way his team played in the last two games. The Wildcats earned a 51-39 win over South Platte on Monday night at Gering.
“We played well. It’s too bad we had a game last night [Monday] because I know there were some tired legs. We came back in the second half and the shots didn’t fall, but the kids were gamers. I’m proud of them. I think now they can play with this caliber of team and that makes a lot of difference when your confidence gets that way. I’m just proud of them. They’re a bunch of good kids.”
Leyton, which shot 5 of 8 from the free-throw line, moves on to Thursday’s 7 p.m. title game at Gering High School.
The Wildcats (8-14) were paced by junior Tyson Dahlgrin, who tallied 10 points. Hostetler hit three 3-pointers for nine points, while Mike McKown also chipped in nine points.
Leyton (16-5) was led by Brennen Cruise, who collected 22 points. Dylan Brenner added 17 points, and Cody McKay finished with 12.
Banner County (8-14) 9 15 4 9 — 37
Leyton (16-5) 18 15 9 14 — 56
Mike McKown 9, Kadan Huber 3, Tyson Dahlgrin 10, Ben Hostetler 9, Brenton Soule 4, Bryce Olsen 2.
Jared Westman 5, Dylan Brenner 17, Brennen Cruise 22, Cody McKay 12.
Minatare boys turn back Garden County
GERING — Minatare’s Juan Garfio took his time finding the scoring column on Tuesday night, but his timing couldn’t have been better.
The junior hit a 3-pointer with 41 seconds left to tie the game at 41-41, and followed with the game-winner with 16 seconds left to help Minatare record a 44-42 win over Garden County in the semifinals of the Class D-2, Sub-district 11 tournament at Gering High School.
The second-seeded Indians (12-7) will now play top-seeded Leyton in the championship game on Thursday night in Gering. Leyton defeated Banner County 56-37 in the first semifinal of the evening. Tipoff between Minatare and Leyton is slated for 7 p.m.
“I thought we started off very tight,” Minatare coach Kyle Cotton said. “We came out and kind of let the moment get to us a little bit. We had 17 turnovers in the first half, which really hurt. But I thought both defenses played very well. I’ve got to give [Garden County] credit. They came out and limited us to some different things, but in the second half we switched some things around on defense and I felt like that really carried us and got us some momentum, and we kind of got on a little roll.”
The Eagles jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first, and held a 12-7 lead after the first quarter. However, the Minatare defense stiffened up in the second, outscoring Garden County 5-2 in the stanza to trail just 14-12 at the break.
Garden County extended its lead to five points in the third, taking a 29-24 lead into the final frame.
Minatare’s Javier Guerrero and Chance McAllister each hit a pair of free throws early in the stanza to pull the Indians within one, 29-28. Minatare took its first lead of the game at the 6:55 mark of the fourth period when Dominic Longoria followed up his shot to give Minatare a slight 30-29 advantage.
Longoria’s bucket sparked a 7-0 run to give the Indians a 35-29 lead with 4:38 left to play. However, Garden County’s Dustin Bleidt hit a pair of free throws at the 4:21 mark to spark a 9-0 run, giving the Eagles back the lead, 38-35. Longoria tied it up again at the 2:22 mark, converting the traditional three-point play to knot things up at 38. A free throw by Anselmo Cano, followed by a bucket by Mathew McCarthy, gave Garden County the late two-point lead, 41-38.
Cotton believes his team’s defensive intensity in the final period was a key factor in the game.
“I just feel like we upped the pressure a little bit. We came after them a little more,” said. “They made some big shots and took the lead, but we made a couple of big shots, too. Juan Garfio hit a three in the corner to tie it, which was huge. We just kept fighting, kept fighting, and I’m proud of the effort.”
Garden County coach Chad Dormann said his team had plenty of chances to win the game but couldn’t finish it out.
“[Minatare] got a couple of breaks at the end, but they played well. They’re a good team,” Dormann said. “We had our chances. All I asked of them was to get a chance to win at the end. We had a chance, we just didn’t convert.”
Garden County finished the night going 9 of 17 from the line. Minatare was 17 of 24.
The Eagles were led by Ryan Smith, who finished with 12 points. Cano added 10 points in the losing effort.
Minatare was paced by Longoria’s 14 points, while Perez was 7 of 10 from the line with 13 points.
Minatare (12-7) 7 5 12 20 — 44
Garden Co. (10-9) 12 2 15 13 — 42
Javier Guerrero 5, Juan Garfio 5, Yovan Perez 13, Tyler Koke 3, Chance McAllister 4, Dominic Longoria 14.
Mathew McCarthy 4, Ryan Smith 12, Elliott Epp 2, Anselmo Cano 10, Dustin Bleidt 6, Layne McCarthy 8.