By John Verser
Publisher of the Sun-Telegraph 

Lady Raiders edge Minutemaids for 56-50 victory


John Verser / Publisher of the Sun-Telegraph

Sidney's Kelsey Knight, left, drives past a pair of Lexington defenders during Saturday's game.

Sidney had the advantage for most of the game, but had to hold off a tough rally from Lexington in the final minutes of the game to win, 56-50, Saturday night at Cabela's Athletic Facility.

"It was good for our team to be in a tough spot and get out of there with the win," Sidney coach Tyler Shaw said. "Last week in McCook we found ourselves in a similar spot and didn't get the job done. We were happy with the effort and plays the girls made down the stretch to come out on top."

The Lady Raiders (11-4) were up by as much as 13 points with 6:16 left in the game, after Kelsey Knight drained a 3-pointer from the corner to put the home team up 45-32. The Minutemaids slowly clawed their way back into the game, but the Lady Raiders led by a 50-43 score with 1:23 remaining.

Two big plays in the span of a minute came on long in-bounds passes. Knight hit Emily Mahr past halfcourt on a long toss from the other end of the court, and Mahr scored on an unguarded fast break bucket. With 1:15 left in the game, Knight once again hit Mahr on a long in bounds pass. Mahr went for the layup again, but this time was fouled and hit 1-of-2 foul shots.

"Anytime we can get a few layups against pressure, we will take them," Shaw said. "They were putting a bunch of pressure on us in the front court so we were able to get behind the defense a couple of times. We noticed them with no safety back so we told Emily to fly out and Kelsey hit her with a couple of good passes."

Hannah Ostrom's free throws cut into the lead, before Courtney Hanson's trey with 43 seconds left cut Lexington's deficit to 51-48. Janay Brauer hit one-of-two foul shots for Sidney for a 52-48 lead with 27.6 seconds to go, before Ostrom struck back with two foul shots to make it a 52-50 game with 22.3 seconds left on the clock.

Sidney's Knight connected on two free throws with 16.5 seconds left on the clock to extend the lead, and Annalise Lecher hit two free throws with one-tenth of a second remaining to set the final score at 56-50.

Knight led the Lady Raiders offensively with 16 points, including a trio of 3-pointers.

"Kelsey had a good shooting game from the outside in some big spots," Shaw said. "I'm not sure we hold them off if she doesn't hit a couple of those big threes in the second half."

Lecher chipped in with 14 points, while Mahr added 11.

For Lexington, Ostrom blistered the basket for a game-high 34 points. She scored 68 percent of the Minutemaids' points.

"Hannah is one of the best players in our state and she showcased the kitchen sink against us. She is a high usage player that has the ball in her hands 90 percent of the time," Shaw said. "Her ability to shoot from the outside and get to the basket makes her a tough match up. Plus, she usually doesn't miss free throws, and she got there a bunch versus us. We got some stops on her in some key moments late in the game."

Sidney struggled to score early, getting its lone basket via a Knight 3-pointer in the first six minutes of the game as Lexington opened with a 7-3 lead. That quickly changed. The Lady Raiders ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run, bookended by Knight free throws, as they took an 11-7 lead to the second quarter.

Lexington came back to tie the game at 16-all with 2:57 left in the first half, but Sidney surged back ahead. Maddi Porter's layup with 2:29 left in the second quarter put the Lady Raiders back on top by a pair. Lecher scored five of Sidney's final seven points of the quarter as the Lady Raiders held a 25-19 advantage at the break.

Sidney extended its lead to eight points on a Porter fastbreak bucket with an assist from Mahr, for a 33-25 lead with 2:59 left in the third quarter. The Lady Raiders led 38-30 going into the final frame.

John Verser / Publisher of the Sun-Telegraph

Sidney's Emily Mahr, left, leaps past a Lexington defender for a layup in Saturday's game. The Lady Raiders won, 56-50.


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