Better late than never for ’Cats

Jason Ferguson
The Custer High School girls basketball team led its game against Sturgis last Saturday for all of one minute and 15 seconds of game time.
Fortunately, for the Wildcats, it was the final 1:15 of the game.
A Kellyn Kortemeyer basket at the 1:15 mark of the fourth quarter put the Wildcats ahead of the visiting Scoopers 40-39 and two Josey Wahlstrom free throws with 30 seconds remaining provided the final points of a 42-39 Wildcat win in a game in which the Wildcats trailed by as many as 11 points.
“A good team will find a way to overcome whatever it needs to overcome. We did that. We had a good game plan going in, we just didn’t execute it in the first half,” head coach Mick Patzlaff said. “The entire first half it was like, ‘here is the game plan; let’s do the opposite.’”
The Wildcats were quickly down 6-0 following a Tatum Ligtenberg three-pointer, although both teams started slowly, with the first point—a Scooper free throw—not coming until the first quarter was nearly halfway over. Custer’s first point, a Tobie Zerbie free throw, came at the 3:12 mark, and the team’s first basket, a Wahlstrom layup, didn’t occur until there were only 16 seconds left in the first quarter.
An Alice Sedlacek three-pointer cut the Sturgis lead to 14-10 at the outset of the second quarter, but Sturgis slowly built a double-digit lead after a Kylie Shaw three-pointer and two Shaw free throws and led 29-18 near the end of the first half.
The game continued a trend of slow starts for the Wildcats, which Patzlaff said he has discussed with the team, unsure of whether pregame preparation needs changed or a starting lineup change needs considered.
“The players have to get themselves focused on what they need to do, because I’m surely not going to watch much more of that (slow starts),” Patzlaff said. “The same people who were on the floor when we were stinking it up were the same ones on the floor when we came back and won the game. I think we’re just not mentally prepared when the game starts, and that has to change.”
The Wildcats made more of an effort to attack the rim and get the ball inside in the second half, as well as apply defensive pressure without fouling. The Wildcats whittled the Scooper lead down to four late in the third quarter before a Reese Ludwick three-pointer pushed the lead back to 34-26 in favor of the Scoopers.
A Wahlstrom drive and basket along with a foul and made free throw cut into the Scooper lead at the outset of the fourth quarter, which was followed by a Wahlstrom assist to Mallory Delmont for a hoop that again cut the lead to four.
That was followed by a Makayla Keffeler basket for the Scoopers, which was answered by a Delmont baseline jumper.
Patzlaff lauded Delmont’s contributions in the game on both ends of the floor, pointing out Shaw was held scoreless for the Scoopers in the second half after Delmont asked to guard her at halftime.
“At halftime Mallory said ‘let me take her,’” he said. “Mallory not only shot the ball well, but was a big difference defensively.”
Wahlstrom drove for two more of her 11 points to cut the Scooper advantage to one point moments later before Kortemeyer finally gave the Wildcats the lead and Wahlstrom brought the game home with her drive and subsequent free throws.
Patzlaff said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to take a timeout or not before Wahlstrom’s drive, for fear it would give Sturgis an opportunity to set up its defense.
“Josey had a fantastic game,” he said. “The second half we were able to execute, especially with the game on the line.”
The same could not be said last Thursday when the Wildcats traveled to Hill City and were throttled 53-26. The Wildcats were down only one after the first quarter but were outscored 21-8 in the second half and never recovered, shooting only 24 percent along the way.
Patzlaff was blunt in his assessment of the game, saying not only did the Wildcats not shoot well in the game, but really didn’t do anything well.
“We didn’t execute the game plan one iota. We didn’t play with energy or focus. We played like we were scared to death from the opening tip to the final buzzer,” he said. “I can’t think of many good things to say about it. I was very disappointed.”
Patzlaff credited Wahlstrom and Kaitlyn Spring off the bench for strong minutes in the game, but said the positives mostly ended there.
“It’s hard to find positives in that one,” he said. “We didn’t do anything.”
Sedlacek led the team in scoring with eight points. The Wildcats were outrebounded by 11 in the game and had 10 more turnovers than the host Rangers.
The Wildcats, 6-3, have only one game this week, a Friday evening trip to 4-3 Wall.
Patzlaff said the Eagles have a good post presence on offense and like to apply pressure on defense. Fortunately, the Wildcats haven’t had much trouble against pressure so far this season.
“They are well coached. We will have to come out ready to play and ready to execute,” Patzlaff said. “Hopefully we turn that corner and come out and play a good first half. That will set us up to play a good second half.”
The game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. tip.
Custer 4 15 7 16 —42
Sturgis 10 19 5 5 —39
Custer—Allie Kelley 0-1 0-0 0, Mallory Delmont 3-7 0-0 6, Tobie Zerbe 1-3 2-4 5, Alice Sedlacek 2-9 2-4 7, Josey Wahlstrom 4-10 3-6 11, Cinthia Rubio-Hernandez 0-1 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Spring 0-1 0-0 0, Anna Lewis 0-2 0-0 0, Kelsey Herman 2-5 4-6 8, Kellyn Kortemeyer 1-6 3-4 5. Totals: 13-45 14-24 42.
Sturgis—Kylie Shaw 3-11 4-6 12, Sarah Janz 0-4 6-8 6, Megan Petrocco 0-4 2-2 2, Ainsley Sabers 0-1 0-2 0, Makayla Keffeler 2-4 0-2 4, Tatum Ligtenberg 1-6 0-0 3, Emily Gray-Smith 2-6 2-4 6, Reese Ludwick 2-3 1-2 6, Lexi Long 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 10-40 15-26 39.
Three-point goals: Custer 2 (Zerbe, Sedlacek), Sturgis 4 (Shaw 2, Ligtenberg, Ludwick). Rebounding: Custer 28 (Kortemeyer 10), Sturgis 36 (Janz 9). Steals: Custer 11 (Herman 4), Sturgis 2. Assists: Custer 7, Sturgis 6. Turnovers: Custer 11, Sturgis 20. Total fouls: Custer 22, Sturgis 20. Fouled out: none. Technical foul: Zerbe.
Custer 5 8 8 5 —26
HCHS 6 21 12 14 —53
Custer—Allie Kelley 0-1 0-0 0, Mallory Delmont 0-1 0-0 0, Ramsey Karim 1-4 1-2 4, Tobie Zerbe 0-2 0-0 0, Alice Sedlacek 3-6 1-2 8, Josey Wahlstrom 1-4 3-3 5, Cinthia Rubio-Hernandez 0-1 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Spring 0-1 0-0 0, Alyssa Koffler 0-2 0-0 0, Anna Lewis 1-6 1-2 3, Laney Carlin 0-1 0-0 0, Kelsey Herman 1-3 1-4 10, Kellyn Kortemeyer 1-1 1-2 3. Totals: 8-33 8-15 26.
Hill City—Hailey Wathen 1-3 5-8 7, Allison Clemetson 1-3 1-2 3, Macey Wathan 1-2 1-2 4, Yari DeAnda 0-0 2-2 2, Kadyn Comer 3-11 3-6 9, Emily Siemonsma 1-4 2-2 4, Abby Siemonsma 5-6 0-0 11, Whitney Edwards 3-5 4-7 11, Rosario Munoz 1-2 0-2 2. Totals: 16-36 18-31 53.
Three-point goals: Custer 2 (Karim, Sedlacek), HC 3 (M. Wathen, A. Siemonsma, Edwards). Rebounding: Custer 17, HC 28 (Edwards 8). Steals: Custer 4, HC 10. Assists: Custer 4, HC 8. Turnovers: Custer 17, HC 7. Total fouls: Custer 21, HC 13. Fouled out: none.

User login