Ragan Nickless found success on the offensive boards against McCook, putting several of her game-leading rebounds up for two points. She finished the night with 11 points. (Johnson Publications photo)

Early in the contest, Mallie McNair goes up for two of her 11 points against McCook in the Lady Longhorns’ home opener Friday. (Johnson Publications photo)

Coach happy with game-to-game improvement opening week

    With the improvement he saw from game one to game two, Coach Mark Bottom said it’s been a great start to the 2017-18 girls’ basketball season.
    As the Lady Longhorns head into the second weekend of play with a 2-0 record, he feels good about the successes seen in their wins over Cozad and McCook.
    Neither team shot well in the Cozad game last Thursday and Chase County committed too many fouls. However, Bottom said his team controlled the game better Friday against McCook, cut down on fouls and had better balanced scoring.
    But there’s work to do, too, he said.
    As they prepare for this week’s action against Sidney and Ogallala, the coach said they’ll be working on a more deliberate offense, more aggressive man-to-man defense, better free throw shooting and getting the close shots.
    The team will travel to Sidney Friday where games start at 4 p.m. with the JVs. The Lady Red Raiders are 2-1 this week after varsity wins over Sterling, Colo., and Gering, and a loss to Mitchell.
    Sidney has better outside shooters than last year, Bottom said, and he expects an aggressive man-to-man defense.
    Back on the home court Saturday, Chase County will face an Ogallala varsity team with a 1-1 record. Opening week, the Lady Indians defeated Minden and lost to Lexington.
    Bottom said Ogallala will bring some size and another aggressive man-to-man defense to Imperial this weekend.
    JVs start action Saturday at 4:30 p.m., followed by girls’ and boys’ varsity.
Cozad game
    Chase County’s 41-28 win at Cozad last week might have been even wider had the Lady Longhorns cut down on the fouls committed in the game.
    Coach Bottom noted 11 of Cozad’s 28 points came at the line as Chase County was called 19 times on fouls.
    “We were reaching too much and not moving into position on defense,” Bottom said.
    After a 17-13 lead at half, Chase County turned in its biggest quarter of the night with 15 points scored in the third, more than half of them (10) coming from the night’s leading scorer, Mallie McNair.
    “Mallie really got going in the third,” Bottom said.
    At halftime, coaches tweaked the offense and emphasized to the girls they had to cut down on the fouls, Bottom noted.
    While Cozad had some size, they struggled against Chase County’s guard pressure. Bottom said his team didn’t have to press much against Cozad because their extended zone pressure was working well.
    Cozad was held to just four field goals all night, but was 11-19 at the line.
    Chase County sunk 13 from two-point range and was 6-19 (31 percent) on free throws.
    Both teams hit three treys.
    McNair led all scorers in the game with 18 points. Allison Owings added eight.    
    No other stats were available.

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