After dropping an overtime setback to Torrington in the opening game of the season at the Western Conference Tournament Invitational, the Gering girls basketball team earned its revenge against the Trailblazers by recording a 40-35 win on Friday night in Gering.
Nicole Michael’s clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter proved pivotal to the Bulldogs’ victory.
“I wasn’t thinking about the shot at all,” Michael said. “I just know to get my feet set and if I am open to shoot the ball.”
The win helped Gering even its record at 4-4 as the Bulldogs enter the holiday break.
“This is a huge win,” Michael said. “We have been working so hard all week just to beat Torrington. “We came into the game knowing we could beat them and we came into this game wanting to win.”
Gering coach Adam Freeburg said his team gutted the win out, and it was the play of the Bulldogs’ four seniors in the fourth quarter that gave the team a big lift.
“We scraped this game out,” Freeburg said. “Things got tough there late in the fourth. They made their run, but we toughed it out. When times got tough, our kids got tough. That is what senior leaders do. They come up with big stops at times and big shots at times. The seniors stepped up big time and made plays that seniors make in the fourth quarter.”
Gering seniors Michael, Santanna Mitchell, Megan Upp, and Alexa Anderson combined for all but two of Gering’s points. Upp and Mitchell each had 12 points, while Anderson and Michael had seven points each. Mitchell also pulled down nine rebounds, while Gering’s other senior Dakota Gellner pulled down seven rebounds.
Rebounding and free throw shooting proved key throughout. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Blazers 42-29. The Bulldogs finished 12 of 18 from the charity strip. Torrington shot 29 free throws, but connected on just 12.
“We hit big free throws down the stretch,” Freeburg said. “We took a deep breath and made those free throws. All those free throws were by seniors. Like I said, our seniors got tough when the times got tough and they made plays that seniors should make.”
Torrington held an 8-4 lead until Gering went on a 14-0 run in the middle of the first half. The run was started in the final two minutes of the first quarter as Michael and Mitchell combined for seven points to give Gering an 11-8 edge after the opening period.
The Bulldogs continued their run in the second quarter as Upp hit two buckets, while Anderson had a 3-pointer sandwiched in between for an 18-8 lead. Gering led 20-14 at intermission.
Gering moved its lead out to 23-15 in the third period before Torrington’s Allison Marsh scored eight of her 13 points in the third period, including seven straight, to help Torrington close within 23-22 after three periods.
Leading by three in the final frame, Gering built its lead up to as many as eight thanks to big buckets by Upp, Michael and Mitchell. However, Torrington sliced the advantage down to just one with 28.2 seconds left on six straight points by Avery Madden.
Gering’s Mitchell and Anderson hit clutch free throws in the final seconds to help the Bulldogs prevail.
Torrington was led in scoring by Marsh and Madden with 13 points each.
Gering will next be in action on Thursday at the Cabela’s Holiday Shootout in Sidney. The Bulldogs will open the three-day tournament against Hershey.
Torrington ................. 8 6 8 13 — 35
Gering ................. 11 9 3 18 — 40
T: Kaylie Haun 3, Allison Marsh 13, Avery Madden 13, Kailee Adams 4, Mikayla Mcnamee 2.
G: Megan Upp 12, Alexa Anderson 7, Santanna Mitchell 12, Nicole Michael 7, Dakota Gellner 2.