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Red Raider Teams Stay Undefeated With Holiday Shootout Wins

SIDNEY- It was Winter Break time for the students of Sidney Public Schools, but the red-hot Red Raider Basketball teams had business to attend to on Friday and Saturday. The annual Sidney Holiday Shootout was on the schedule, and both Red Raider basketball teams had to put the relaxation of the holidays on hold for a few days to stay unbeaten.

On Friday, the tournament started with girls' teams matching up. Visitors Chase County and Gordon-Rushville started the action, and the Lady Mustangs of Gordon-Rushville needed two overtime periods to squeak past the Lady Longhorns with a 30-to-29 win. The win put the Lady Mustangs into the championship game on Saturday. Next, the Lady Raiders faced off against the Lexington MinuteMaids in the afternoon contest. The winless MinuteMaids were no match for the Lady Raiders, as the Sidney girls built a big lead early and cruised to a 64-to-7 victory, securing their spot in the championship game on Saturday against Gordon-Rushville. Junior Kayla Westby was the high scorer with 16 points in the victory.

On Saturday, the Lady Raiders were geared up for a much bigger challenge against the 8-and-1 Lady Mustangs. Gordon-Rushville's sole loss on the season came against Chadron, a team Sidney beat by just one point in the opening game of the season. But the big challenge never materialized, as Sidney raced off to a fast start with senior Karsyn Leeling scoring seven points before Gordon-Rushville even got on the scoreboard. The Sidney defense smothered the Lady Mustang's offense, causing bad shots, picking off passes and causing steals on their way to a 20-to-3 first period advantage. Sidney kept up the pace in the second quarter, and by midway through the period, Leeling banged down another three-pointer to give Sidney a 34-to-5 lead and the Gordon-Rushville bench looked shell-shocked. Sidney opened a 42-to-11 lead at the half, and Leeling already had 17 points under her belt.

Head Coach Tyler Shaw kept substituting five players at a time, and there was little drop-off in the play of the Lady Raiders, especially on defense. Sidney's scoring output cooled, but even with a burst of scoring by Gordon-Rushville at the end of the third period, Sidney held a 49-to-23 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Sidney's starters came back into the game to start the fourth quarter, and Leeling again was sharp outside of the arc, cashing in on two more three-pointers. With Sidney up 57-to-23, Shaw pulled his starters and put in the second line. Within a short time, they had built the lead to 60-to-25, before Shaw put in the final four of his bench players for the remainder of the contest. Sidney took the victory by a final score of 68-to-27, and Leeling led all scorers with 26 points.

For the boy's team, the tournament started with a matchup on Friday against a one-win Lexington team, and the Red Raiders had no trouble getting past the MinuteMen, holding their offense to single digits in every quarter except the third, where they shut them out. The 58-to-21 win for Sidney had nine players score in double-digits, with sophomore Keian Kaiser leading the way with 18 points. Saturday's championship game pitted Sidney against Chase County, who had no trouble dispatching the Gordon-Rushville team in Friday's game. The championship matchup started with a slow pace, with Chase County patiently passing the ball around the perimeter on offense, trying to get their best possible shot. Sidney scored on fast-break opportunities early, and with two minutes left in the first period, the Red Raiders were up 7-to-6. But in the final 90 seconds of the quarter, senior Grant Smircich and Kaiser each buried three-point shots, and Sidney took a 13-to-6 lead going into the second quarter.

The scoring slowed a bit for Sidney in the second quarter, but the defense was sharp, giving few good looks at the basket for Chase County while generating steals and turnovers. Sidney took a 24-to-11 lead into the halftime intermission. In the third quarter, Chase County finally got their offense going, and their defense did a great job at shutting down the Sidney scoring. Limiting the Red Raiders to just four points, the Longhorns put up 17 points in the quarter to tie the game at 28-to-28 going into the fourth quarter. Sidney Head Coach Austin Lewis was able to get his players re-focused, and Sidney was able to get their offense back on track and shut down the Longhorns' scoring. Junior Landon Riddle put up seven points in the quarter to lead Sidney to a 43-to-35 victory. Riddle led the Sidney scoring with 16 points in the victory.

The wins moved both Sidney squads's records to 10-and-0 on the season. The Raider teams are next in action on Saturday, when the Lady Raiders travel to the Girls Basketball Showcase at Kearney High School and match up against an 8-and-0 Lincoln Christian team, while the boys travel to McCook to match up against the 6-and-3 Bison.


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