Lady Raiders Rally Past Lincoln Christian, Raiders Hold Off McCook
KEARNEY/MCCOOK--The Sidney Red Raider Basketball teams continued their undefeated seasons on Saturday with big wins against challenging opponents. The Lady Raiders were able to rally past C1 top-ranked Lincoln Christian to stay undefeated, and move up to #1 in the Omaha World Herald's weekly statewide C1 rankings. The Lady Raider win also was Head Coach Tyler Shaw's 300th career win.
The Lady Raiders took the long trip out to Kearney to participate in the annual Girls Basketball Showcase, where some of the very best Nebraska High School girls' basketball teams competed. 16 teams are invited, and eight games are played. Sidney played in game 7 against the undefeated number 1 ranked Lady Crusaders. Both teams played outstanding basketball, with the Sidney defense keeping the Lady Crusaders from going on any extended runs while the Sidney offense consistently scored. The teams fought back and forth the entire time, with neither gaining too much of an advantage in playing or scoring.
Lincoln Christian was able to build a six-point advantage in the second half, but Sidney bore down and chipped away at the lead. The game was settled in the final moments when after Sidney took a 54-to-52 lead, senior Karsyn Leeling sank one of two free throws to move the Sidney lead to three points. Lincoln Christian's leading scorer Kena Ailes was fouled on a three-point attempt with four seconds remaining, and made two free throws, cutting the Sidney lead to one point. On the third free throw, Ailes' shot hit the heel of the rim, Sidney senior Katie Ramsey grabbed the rebound and was immediately fouled. With three seconds left, Ramsey buried her two free throws to give Sidney a three point advantage, and after a desperation half court shot at the buzzer by Lincoln Christian missed its mark, the Lady Raiders came away with the 57-to-54 victory. Karsyn Leeling had 24 points in the win and was named Offensive Player of the Game, while junior Kayla Westby had 13 points and five steals and was named Defensive Player of the Game.
Shaw's 300th win comes in his 17th season as head Coach of the Lady Raiders. The Lady Raiders have only had one losing season during his tenure, back in Shaw's first season of 2006-2007. Shaw has amassed a .705 winning percentage, and has averaged 20 wins per season over the past seven years. He has coached the team to six state tournament appearances. After his milestone win, Shaw reflected about the achievement. "I never really thought about milestones like 300 wins when I started coaching. I was just trying to stay above water and take each game one at a time," he said. When asked about coaches that influenced him, he said, "My high school coach Dennis Murry was an influence, and I try to take some of the best stuff from coaches I've worked with early in my career. Rick Ahrens at Bishop Neumann currently and Larry Klaus formerly at Bennington were two coaches that had a big impact on me early in my career." While in college, Shaw credited his coaching basketball class with Nebraska coaching legend Larry Ribble and his coaching football class with Dr. Tom Osborne as helping to develop his coaching methods and style. Earlier in his career, he would attend coaching clinics to find new ideas and concepts that he could use with his team. Currently, he says its easier to gather information and ideas with all of the coaching resources available online.
Against Lincoln Christian, Shaw stayed consistent with his preparation methods, saying, "we just try to prepare each week the same way, we try to focus mostly on what we're doing, and a little on what each opposing team does well. It wasn't hard to motivate the girls for the Lincoln Christian game as they were the number 1 ranked team. The girls knew that they would have to play hard and well to get a win."
The boys' team traveled to McCook on Saturday to take on a tough Class B Bison team, but after tight opening of the game, Sidney started to pull away. Up 20-to-10 to begin the second period, Sidney kept the Bison scrambling with their tough defense, totaling 15 steals and blocking four shots in the game. The Bison were able to trim down the Sidney lead in the fourth quarter and rallied in the final minutes, but the Red Raiders were able to hold off the surging Bison and sink a few key throws at the end of the game to come away with a four point 60-to-56 victory to remain unbeaten.
The Red Raider teams were scheduled to host Mitchell on Tuesday at Sidney High School, and then travel to Ogallala on Friday. The teams then host North Platte in Sidney Saturday afternoon.