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

By Will Korn 

Lady Raiders use strong second half to pull away from Greeley West


Donna Wiedeburg / For The Sun-Telegraph

The Lady Raiders' Jasmine Jallen looks for an open teammate in Sidney's season-opening win on Thursday night. Jallen had 10 points in the game.

A strong second half made the difference for the Sidney High girls' basketball team in its season-opening 44-25 win over Greeley West (Colo.) on Thursday night.

The Lady Raiders held a two-point lead at halftime, but outscored Greeley West 26-9 in the second half to secure the win at home in the opening round of the Western Conference Tournament.

Sidney keyed in all night on the Spartans' star player, senior forward Harper Sheets. Sidney senior forward Savanna Rosenbaum was tasked with guarding her for most of the game and she held Sheets – a University of Nebraska at Kearney recruit – to just seven points and four rebounds. Sheets struggled with Rosenbaum's length and athleticism and that carried over to the rest of the Spartans.

"Savanna did well on her," Sidney head coach Tyler Shaw said. "Going in, we made it a central focus to put our longest, most athletic girl on her and I feel like Savanna did a great job."

Both squads struggled to score efficiently in the first half, as turnovers were rampant for both teams. Neither the Lady Raiders nor the Spartans could take advantage of seemingly countless extra possessions after turnovers. Both teams had difficulty at the free throw line, and forced several cross-court passes and difficult shots in the paint. Sidney led just 18-16 at the break.

"We were a little nervous in the first half and that's why we looked frantic," Rosenbaum said. "But we really pulled it together in the second half."

When the Lady Raiders took the floor for the second half, they looked like a completely different team. The defense evolved to an asphyxiating level and while the offense wasn't flawless, Sidney finally started to collect some easy baskets in transition as the turnover parade continued to plague the Spartans. The Lady Raiders were finishing plays that they didn't finish in the first half and they began to reap the rewards of excellent defense.

Senior guard Maddie Stafford, among others, really started to push the ball up the court with quick outlet passes. Sidney has the legs and team speed to make that kind of offense effective.

"Last year we were a huge fast break, push-it-up- the-court, get a layup team," Stafford said. "That's what we're trying to be this year as well."

Sidney got better on the boards in the second half as well. Junior forward Jasmine Jallen played a very selective offensive game – picking her shots well and pursuing the ball aggressively on missed shots. She totaled 10 points and six rebounds for the Lady Raiders. Sophomore forward Maddi Porter also picked up nine rebounds.

Junior guard Emily Mahr was the beneficiary of several fast-break passes off of turnovers and nailed a big three at the end of the third quarter to give Sidney some extra separation. Mahr led the Lady Raiders in scoring with 11 points and four boards.

Leading 32-20 at the start of the fourth, Sidney continued to run and capitalize on Spartan turnovers. The Lady Raiders increased their lead throughout the final quarter, as the Spartans never once looked comfortable in any phase of the game.

"We did a great job in the second half," Shaw said. "There were a lot of new girls out there who are used to playing JV, so there was some pressure. I was happy with the second half effort."

The Lady Raiders will play Chadron today at 3:30 in tournament semifinals at WNCC's Scottsbluff campus.

Western Conference Tournament

Girls' Division

Thursday, Dec. 4

Sidney 44, Greeley West (Colo.) 25

Chadron 43, Gering 27

Omaha Gross 73, Alliance 38

Mitchell 63, Scottsbluff 50

Friday, Dec. 5

At Western Nebraska C.C.-Scottsbluff campus

Sidney vs. Chadron, 3:30 p.m.

Omaha Gross vs. Mitchell, 5 p.m.

At Scottsbluff High School

Greeley West (Colo.) vs. Gering, 3:30 p.m.

Alliance vs. Scottsbluff, 5 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 6

At Scottsbluff High School

7th-place game, 10 a.m.

At Western Nebraska C.C.-Scottsbluff campus

5th-place game, 10 a.m.

3rd-place game, 1:30 p.m.

Championship game, 5 p.m.


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