KEARNEY — On the schedule, Lincoln Southwest’s Friday-night game in Kearney didn’t look like a “trap” game.
But the Silver Hawks got trapped. Often. By Kearney High’s trapping zone press.
Forcing 23 turnovers and holding the Silver Hawks to three points in a 12-minute stretch, the Bearcats (8-5) pulled away for a 40-28 victory.
“They’re big and they’re young, so we thought we needed to turn it into a full-court game,” Kearney High coach Jason Boyd said. “Our press got to them a lot. ... That was the game plan but a lot of times the game plan doesn’t pan out, but thank God, tonight it did.:
The Silver Hawks (8-7) held a 1-point lead late in the first quarter when, on back-to-back plays, Kearney High’s Skyler Snider stole the ball on an in-bounds pass and laid it in. Two more turnovers added to what turned into a 12-2 Kearney run.
“That’s been a bug-a-boo of ours all year. ... We’ve struggled with pressure all year,” Southwest coach Jeff Rump said.
Kearney’s press dictated the second quarter, too, as Southwest scored only one point and committed seven turnovers as Kearney pulled away.
Even when the Silver Hawks broke the press, it didn’t pay off.
“We still didn’t get the ball inside like we needed to. ... They found a way to keep ups from getting the ball inside to our big kid who has been our focus all year. We just didn’t get her enough touches,” Rump said.
The big kid, 6-foot-2 senior Madison Kelle led the Silver Hawks with 10 points, but nine of those came in the second half.
“That was our focus, being physical with her,” Boyd said.
With a smaller lineup, the Bearcats needed to keep Kelle from getting the ball down low and they hoped to limit her touches and, when she did get the ball, keep her away from the basket. Much of that responsibility fell on the shoulders of 5-11 senior Taylor Moran, who “did a good job denying her the ball,” Boyd said.
But at the same time, the Silver Hawks were denying Snider the ball, too. Kearney High’s leading scorer, averaging 20 points per game, was held to three field goals — two coming off her first-period steals — as Caitlin Carson, Taylor Augustyn and Bethnal Shield shared the job of guarding Snider all over the floor while their teammates played a zone defense.
“Our goal was to try to limit her touches and make somebody else beat us,” Rump said. “I think if we just could have knocked down some shots, we would have been right in the ballgame.”
Kearney found the other player to take the heat off the offense in senior guard Jessica Fritson, who had a season-high 10 points.
“She’s gotten so much better offensively. She was playing exclusively jayvee last year and didn’t score much at all,” Boyd said.
Fritson made all four of her field goal attempts and was 2-for-2 from the free-throw line. But she was an anomaly on a night where both teams shot 28 percent from the floor.
The poor shooting didn’t allow Kearney to pull away, but Lincoln Southwest never threatened to close the gap, either.
“We were 2-of-17 from 3-point range and we still won by 12 against a team that’s won five of its last six. ... It was a good win for us. Coming off two losses, we needed this,” Boyd said.
Kearney is back in action tonight (Saturday), playing at Lincoln East. Southwest is at home tonight against Lincoln North Star.
Lincoln SW ............................. 11 1 9 7 — 28
Kearney ................................. 16 6 13 5 — 40
Lincoln Southwest (8-7): Taylor Augustyn 0-2 0-0 0, Jaden Ferguson 2-4 1-4 6, Caitlin Carson 0-3 0-0 0, Hannah Kelle 2-10 2-2 8, Madison Kelle 4-9 2-3 10, Morgan McKinsey 2-6 0-0 4, Reagan Wells 0-0 0-0 0, Bethany Shield 0-2 0-0 0. Total 10-36 5-9 28.
Kearney (8-5): Mariah Rost 1-6 2-2 4, Kelsey Clark 1-8 0-2 3, Lauren Speicher 3-11 1-2 8, Taylor Moran 0-2 2-5 2, Skyler Snider 3-12 5-6 11, Avery Wood 1-3 0-0 0, Daisy Maessner 0-0 0-0 0. Total 13-46 12-19 40.
3-pointers — LSW 3-12 (H.Kelle 2-8, Ferguson 1-1, Carson 0-1, McKinsey 0-1, Shield 0-1), KHS 2-17 (Clark 1-6, Speicher 1-6, Snider 0-3, Rost 0-2). Rebounds — LSW 38 (Ferguson 7, H.Kelle 7), KHS 32 (Moran 6). Total fouls — LSW 18, KHS 13. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — LSW 23, KHS 12. Steals — LSW 4 (Four with 1), KHS 8 (Snider 4).