That was the scene from the fans and student section when they stormed the floor at Gering High School after Joses Palomo canned a 3-pointer with one second left on the clock to lift the Bulldogs to a 71-69 win over Class B-6 District opponent, and No. 5-rated (Omaha World-Herald) Sidney.
Gering coach Randy Plummer said the wire-to-wire game between the two teams was well worth the price of admission.
“That’s the kind of thing these people pay their five bucks to see right there is a game like that,” Plummer said. “That’s probably as wild as I’ve ever seen that gym and I’ve been here a long time. It was really neat for the kids, the students and the fans. It was something that excites our school and it was really neat to be a part of it.”
The game started off in thrilling fashion and didn’t subside with both teams exchanging punches in a contest that featured a combined 18 3-pointers with Sidney hitting 10, and Gering knocking in eight.
The Bulldogs held a 15-14 advantage after the first period, but Sidney’s Paxton Ehler and Lane Harvey connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Red Raiders out to a 21-14 lead early in the second. Gering, though, found its rhythm when Palomo hit his second trey of the contest to spark a 12-2 run led by sophomore Austin Hoffman, who poured in nine points finished off by a 3-pointer during the stretch to give the Bulldogs a 26-24 lead with 4:41 left to play in the half. Another three by Ehler gave Sidney a 27-26 lead less than 20 seconds later, but the Bulldogs ignited again, this time with a 14-2 run to take a 40-33 lead into the break.
Plummer said Sidney isn’t a team that can be held down and the Bulldogs knew they were going to have to play a full four quarters to win.
“You’re not going to break [Sidney’s] spirit totally, and we knew they were going to come back,” he said. “Their not just a three-point shooting team.”
Both teams went back and forth in the third with Gering holding a 19-18 advantage in the frame, setting up a showdown in the final period with the Bulldogs up 58-52 heading into the stanza.
Gering clung to a 68-60 lead with less than 4 minutes left in the contest when Sidney rattled off nine unanswered points, capped off by a layup by Ehler with less than 20 second on the clock to put the Raiders up 69-68.
Plummer added that key to the win was just simply sticking to a game plan and executing it.
“It was just the fact that we played a lot better than we played over there,” Plummer said referring to Gering’s 75-64 loss to the Raiders in Sidney on Jan. 10. “It sounds simple, but when we played over there, we just played horrid. Playing in your own gym helps. But everybody was brave when they needed to be brave. It would have been a shame to lose it, but we’ve been on both sides of those games.”
Palomo said the win was a team win.
“It’s a big game and I’m glad we won it,” he said. “It was a team effort and we all put it together and I’m glad we got it. Sidney’s a good team and I give them credit for it too.”
Sidney coach Erik Kohl lauded his team’s effort on the road against a good district opponent.
“I’m very proud,” he said. “It was a tough environment. We didn’t lose that game because of a last-second three. There’s a lot of little pieces to that game that if we execute better, it comes out a different way. But give Gering all the credit in the world, they played an excellent basketball game.”
Ehler paced Sidney offensively, drilling four 3-pointers for a game-high 21 points. Harvey followed with 14 points off four 3-pointers, while Logan Lewis added 12 points in the losing effort. The Raiders finished the night 5 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Grant Olsson paved the way for Gering, finishing the night with 19 points, while Palomo connected on five 3-pointers for 17 points. Christian Groskopf chipped in 16 points, while Hoffman finished with 14.
Sidney will next be in action today when it hosts No. 7 Scottsbluff. Gering hosts Lexington on Thursday.
Sidney (13-5) 15 18 19 17 — 69
Gering (14-5) 14 26 18 13 — 71
Lane Harvey 14, Paxton Ehler 21, Cutter O’Connell 6, Logan Lewis 12, Tyler Wintholz 6, Lucas Rosenbaum 6, Cody Frerichs 2, Nick Castner 2.
Joses Palomo 17, Christian Groskopf 16, Isaiah Wilson 2, Austin Hoffman 14, Taylor Nelson 3, Grant Olsson 19.