Eric Moreno and Michael Hadden each scored 23 points to help the Scottsbluff boys basketball team improve to 10-2 on the season with a 63-53 win over Rapid City Stevens on Saturday evening at Western Nebraska Community College’s Cougar Palace.
The win capped off another successful weekend for the Bearcats after Scottsbluff earned a 16-point win over Alliance on Friday.
Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske said the goal this weekend was to get better after suffering two losses at the GNAC tournament over the holiday break.
“We wanted to get two wins this weekend and bounce back from GNAC, but more importantly improve as a basketball team,” Siske said. “We are a better team this week than we were at the end of the GNAC tournament.”
The Bearcats proved sharp from the free-throw line against Stevens, especially in the final two minutes when they canned 10 of 12 to close out the contest. Scottsbluff was 20 of 27 from the charity stripe overall.
Scottsbluff held Rapid City to just 19 first-half points. The Bearcat defense held the Raiders to just 35 percent shooting from the field and forced Rapid City to take a number of tough shots.
“Tonight, I thought our half court defense was pretty good.” Siske said. “The defense was especially on in the first half where we held them to 19.”
The Bearcat defense also stopped the Raiders’ ability to put together scoring runs. Still, Scottsbluff never could put the Raiders away in the contest, despite leading by double digits in the second, third and fourth periods.
Scottsbluff had a 4-0 lead to open the contest only to watch the Raiders score the next six points to take a 6-4 lead. Moreno came down and hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key before Hadden picked the pocket of a Steven’s player to score on an easy lay-up. Scottsbluff finished the first quarter on a bucket by Tyler Mickey for the 11-6 lead.
Scottsbluff led 27-19 at halftime behind three 3-pointers — two from Moreno and one from Taylor Winker, but the play that set the tone was a drive and old-fashioned 3-point play by Hadden.
Rapid City sliced the lead to 27-22 early in the third period and trailed 30-24 before the Bearcats scored seven straight points to go up 37-24, and led 40-32 after three periods.
Rapid City had plenty of fight to mount a comeback in the final frame, slicing the lead to single digits, 57-53 with 1:23 to play on a 3-pointer by Brett Bennett. Rapid City trailed 59-53 with 19.7 second to play, but Hadden sealed the win, going 4 of 4 from the charity strip while converting two foul shots and two technical shots.
Scottsbluff out-rebounded Rapid City 22-19. Hadden led the way with six.
Scottsbluff had just six players hit the scoring column as Moreno and Hadden each had 23 points. After that, Winkler had six points for the Bearcats.
Rapid City, 2-5, was led by junior Steven Schaeffer with 26 points followed by Bennett with 15.
Scottsbluff will next be in action next weekend when they entertain Cheyenne East on Friday before traveling to Cheyenne Central on Saturday.
Rapid City Stevens (2-5) 6 13 13 21 — 53
Scottsbluff (10-2) 11 16 13 23 — 63
RAPID CITY STEVENS
Steven Schaeffer 26, Jacob Vifquain 2, Matt Wilson 2, Sam McCloud 2, Tanner Simons 3, Brett Bennett 15, Kevin Blackett 3.
Taylor Winkler 6, Tyler Mickey 2, Matthew Klein 1, Eric Moreno 23, Michael Hadden 23, Austin Clarkson 4.