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Opening weekend tough on Longhorns PDF Print E-mail

By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican

The opening weekend of the boys’ basketball season didn’t prove kind to Coach Carl Zuege and his team.
In the opener last Thursday, the Longhorns lost to Cozad 47-49 on a buzzer-beater with 0.6 seconds left.
On Friday, they could never quite close the gap against an athletic McCook team, falling 44-58.
Zuege said he felt they should be at least 1-1, noting they let the Cozad game get away.
He said his team performed at a typical first-game level. A big factor proved to be their inability to finish plays, whether it was in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, he added.
Despite suffering a second loss Friday, Zuege felt much better about the way his team played against McCook.
He said his team was always in the game. However, he said they need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and be more patient on offense.
That’s especially key against teams like Cozad and mcCook who like to pressure all over the floor.
Zuege liked the tempo his team kept on defense against McCook. They played man-to-man the entire game and applied good pressure all night.
Offense has to get better
The focus for practice this week will center on the offense. Simply put, Zuege said, “Our offense has to get better. You’re not going to win a lot of games with 45 points.”
He wants his team to do a better job of moving the ball around on offense. That means reversing the ball around the perimeter of the defense, moving it around to get a good shot, either inside or from outside the lane.
He felt they forced passes and shots that weren’t there against Cozad and McCook. “We have to become more patient and play a lot smarter,” he added.
Zuege’s confident the offense will come. He said his shooters are just starting to get going and expects more offense production as a result.
Next foes Sidney, Ogallala
Zuege said the Longhorns will have their hands full when they play host to Sidney Friday.
He said they like to play an up-tempo game and will play man defense the whole game.
In addition, they like to put up the trey balls and have picked up some size inside to rebound.
On Saturday, the Longhorns travel to Ogallala. Zuege said that’s always a tough place to play. Even though Ogallala went 0-2 last weekend as well, his team will have to be prepared.
Cozad jumps up 16-3
The Longhorns found themselves in an early hole against Cozad. Unable to convert shots around the basket, the Longhorns fell behind 16-3 just into the second quarter.
They began clawing their way back into it, trailing by just five at halftime, 23-18,  with Jeff Dickey hitting three deuces and Travis Luhrs dropping a trey.
Senior Kale Gockley opened the second half by draining a three pointer to keep the comeback on fire.
By the end of the third, the Longhorns held a 33-32 lead on a pair of free throws by Gockley. Cozad added one before the buzzer to tie the game 33-33 going in the final eight minutes.
The Longhorns held leads of 36-35 and 38-35 before Cozad dropped in three unanswered buckets to go up 41-38.  A three point shot with 4:05 left put them up 44-40.
Both teams had trouble converting hoops over the next two and a half minutes.
A basket and free throw by Kelton Fisher, along with a pair of free throws from the Isaac Sorenson tied the game at 45-45 with 1:30 left.
Cozad hit a pair of free throws  before Justus Wallin anssered with an eight-footer to tie the game again, 47-47.
Cozad missed on the other end and the Longhorns grabbed the rebound and called time-out with 50 seconds left.  
Zuege said he wanted to work the ball inside for the shot and was just ready to call another time-out when Fisher got loose underneath but couldn’t get the shot to fall.
Cozad got the rebound and went down the floor, calling a time-out with 10.9 seconds left.
It looked like the game would go into overtime when Cozad’s first shot came off the rim. However, the Longhorns couldn’t grab the rebound, allowing Cozad to get off another shot in the paint.
This one came off the basket as well and Cozad’s Jacob Rush grabbed the ball and got a shot off with 0:0.6 seconds left.
The ball drew nothing but net as the buzzer sounded, giving Cozad a 49-47 victory.
For the game, both teams shot 35 percent from the field, with the Longhorns going 12-34 inside the arc and 4-12 outside the arc. Cozad was 11-27 and 6-21 respectively.
Cozad was only 7-21 from the free throw line but two of those came with just 1:25 left. Chase County was 11-16 to make up the difference from the field.
Gockley led the scoring with 11 followed by Dickey with 10.
The Longhorns lost the rebounding battle 25-19 with Dickey leading the team with six.
Imperial 47
2 PT.  3 PT.      FT/    
FG    FG         FTA       F    TP
Travis Luhrs    1    1    0-0    4    5
Ryan Moline    0    0    0-0    0    0
Kevin German    0    0    0-0    0    0 Dan Sullivan    2    0    0-0    3    4
Jeffrey Dickey    5    0    0-1    1    10
Kale Gockley    0    3    2-3    3    11
Kelton Fisher    1    0    5-8    2    7
Justus Wallin    1    0    2-2    0    4
Trey Milner    1    0    0-0    2    2
Isaac Sorensen    1    0    2-2    4    4
Holden Dreiling    0    0    0-0    0    0
Brian Bell    0    0    0-0    0    0
Calen Griffin    0    0    0-0    0    0
TOTALS    12    4    11-16    19    47
Cozad 49
C. Wetovick 12, N. Bubak 6, T. Lauby 2, J. Rush 8, C. Young 13, J. Finnegan 2, J. Stallbaumer 6.
Cozad’s team totals: 2 pt. FG—12; 3 pt. FG—6; FT/FTA—7-21; Fouls—17; TP—49.
Points by quarters:
Imperial    3    15    15    14—47
Cozad    14    9    10    16—49
Slow start at McCook
The Longhorns experienced trouble getting the ball in the hoop in the first quarter at McCook. They went just 2-13 from the field as McCook built a 14-6 lead by the break.
In the second, the Longhorns put up 12 points but saw McCook add another three points to their lead at half, 29-18.
The Longhorns opened the second half with a 7-3 run with Fisher hitting a free throw followed by a bucket.
Dickey followed up with a pair of two-pointers to close the gap to eight, 25-33.
McCook answered with a seven-point run of their own to go up by 14, 39-25.
But before the quarter ended, Brian Bell and Sorenson each added a basket to draw back within 10 going into the final quarter, 29-39.
Dickey got the first jumper of the fourth to close back to within eight again.
Just as the Longhorns had reeled the Bison back within sight, McCook responded with an 8-0 run to go up 16 and put the game out of reach.
The Longhorns finished with a 6-2 to make the final margin 14, 44-58.
McCook finished the night at 45 percent from the field, 20-38 inside the arc and 5-18 outside of the arc.
That compared to 37 percent for the Longhorns, shooting 17-40 inside and 2-11 outside the arc.
Dickey was the only double-figure scorer for the Longhorns with 14. He also added eight rebounds to lead the team.
Games times this week
Friday’s game here against Sidney begins with girls’ and boys’ jayvee action at 4:30 p.m. MT, followed by girls’ and boys’ varsity games.
On Saturday at Ogallala, jayvee games begin at 4:30 followed by the girls’ and boys’ varsity games.
Imperial 44
2 PT.  3 PT.      FT/    
FG    FG         FTA       F    TP
Travis Luhrs    1    0    0-0    0    2
Ryan Moline    1    0    0-0    0    2
Kevin German    0    0    0-0    0    0 Dan Sullivan    0    0    0-0    3    0
Jeffrey Dickey    3    2    0-1    2    12
Kale Gockley    1    0    1-2    3    3
Kelton Fisher    3    0    1-2    0    7
Justus Wallin    1    0    2-4    0    4
Trey Milner    2    0    0-2    2    4
Isaac Sorensen    3    0    0-0    4    6
Calen Griffin    0    0    0-0    0    0
Holden Dreiling    0    0    0-0    0    0
Kevin Chavira    0    0    0-0    0    0
Brian Bell    2    0    0-0    1    4
TOTALS    17    2    4-11    15    44
McCook 58
A. Cherry 6, C. Wudtke 7, Z. Gillen 9, L. Post 9, S. Backer 12, M. Alspaugh 15.
McCook’s team totals: 2 pt. FG—20; 3 pt. FG—5; FT/FTA—3-7; Fouls—11; TP—58.
Points by quarters:
Imperial    6    12    11    15—44
McCook    14    15    10    19—58