The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Don Ogle 

Raiders Make Good Showing

 

December 6, 2017

Donna Wiedeburg

Sidney's Jon Smith, senior gains some air thrrough defenders during the Western Conference Tournament. The Red Raiders face Chase County in Imperial Friday.

Sidney's Red Raider boys basketball team is off and running in its new season, and already the Raiders have shown a lot to Coach Austin Lewis.

Like last year, the Raiders' opening games were in the Western Conference Tournament, where Sidney worked its way to a third place finish and a 2-1 record coming out of the weekend.

"Last year we were 1-2 in the tournament," Lewis said. "We were in the third-place game, but lost."

The Raiders opened play with a 78-34 win over Mitchell, then faced a familiar foe in a still-powerful Scottsbluff team.

The Raiders hung in against the Bearcats, but trailed 74-66 at the final buzzer.

"They're real physical, and I don't think we were quite ready for how physical they were," Lewis said. "You can preach it and practice it, but until you're there you don't have the actual experience."

Still, Lewis said he was happy with the way the Raiders responded once they got further into the contest and hung on. But his biggest impression came the following day when the team was preparing for its third-place game against Greeley West.

"We had a shoot around when we got there (Scottsbluff), and you could tell they came in with their heads in the right place," Lewis said. "After a game like the Scottsbluff game, it can affect you."

The Raiders defeated Greeley West 69-48 in a strong showing, which saw four Raiders score in double figures. Arik Doty led the team with 22, Connor Dormann had 20, Jon Smith 11, and Jake Burke added 10.

This is the second year for Lewis at Sidney High, and he said he's pleased with the way things are going so far. He feels there is a growing familiarity with him and the players that is helping things come together.

"They know what to expect more, and I'm getting to know more what they can do," Lewis said.

Even with the growing familiarity, Lewis said he got a couple of pleasant surprises during the tournament.

Those surprises, in Burke and Dormann, was seeing two players, who in the past hadn't seen a lot of playing time, bloom before his eyes.

"Jake wasn't a regular starter last year, but he came out with 21 points against Scottsbluff," Lewis said. "He gave a lot of effort."

Dormann, who was on the junior varsity last year and didn't see a lot of playing time, also broke out. The 6'-2" starting post had eight points against Scottsbluff, then exploded for 20 against Greeley West.

"He was passing up shots we knew he could make," early in the tournament, Lewis said. "I pulled him aside and told him to take them."

Dormann responded with the hot game against Greeley West, showing himself what the coaches saw.

"We knew he could do it," Lewis said. "He just needed to get that confidence in himself."

With the growth of Burke and Dormann, Lewis said the Raiders have a solid top six.

Defense is the name of the game from here on out, Lewis said. After loosing to McCook in district play last year, he made it a priority.

"It (the loss) left a bitter taste, because they were the better defensive team," Lewis said, saying he want the Raiders to be the ones teams have to deal with defensively.

Sidney's next outing is on the road Friday at Chase County in Imperial.

Western Conference Tournament

FIRST ROUND

Sterling 68, Chadron 36

Greeley West 68, Gering 60

Sidney 78, Mitchell 34

Scottsbluff 72, Alliance 68

SECOND ROUND

WINNERS BRACKET

Sterling over Greeley West

Sidney 66, Scottsbluff 74

CONSOLATION BRACKET

Gering 45, Chadron 44

Alliance 70, Mitchell 44

FIFTH PLACE

Alliance 65, Gering 62

SEVENTH PLACE

Chadron 55, Mitchell 44

THIRD PLACE

Sidney 69, Greeley West 48

CHAMPIONSHIP

Sterling 56, Scottsbluff 40

 

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