Girls grab seventh place at LNI

Jason Ferguson
“A big step forward for the program” is what Custer High School girls basketball coach Mick Patzlaff called the 2019 Lakota Nation Invitational, as his Wildcats went 2-2 in the tournament while capturing seventh place.
The girls won the seventh-place game 49-38 over Todd County Saturday afternoon at Rapid Skillz in Rapid City.
Patzlaff changed his starting lineup, inserting freshman Alice Sedlacek, which he said helped get the team going as Sedlacek worked to attack the rim.
“We got off to a decent start, broke their press and got some looks going at the basket,” he said. “That helped spark us a bit.”
A Sedlacek offensive rebound and basket followed by a Kellyn Kortemeyer basket inside put the Wildcats up 6-0, and Custer held the lead until the 12:55 mark of the first half when a Lainee Four Horns three-pointer tied the score. That was answered by a Kortemeyer basket on which she was fouled and made the free throw, a Sedlacek drive and basket and another Kortemeyer bucket inside that saw the Wildcats up 17-12 at the 8:15 mark.
Josey Wahlstrom then got into the act, as the only  Wildcat to be named all-tournament drove for a pair of scores to help the Wildcats maintain their lead. By the 2:09 mark the ’Cats had opened up an eight-point lead at 27-19 following an Anna Lewis offensive rebound and hoop.
“Kelsey (Herman) was nicked up. I thought Anna came off the bench and gave us really good minutes,” Patzlaff said.
The Wildcats took at 29-23 lead into the half and pushed the lead to 15 early in the second half following a Tobie Zerbe three-pointer, a Kortemeyer old-fashioned three-point play and a another Wahlstrom drive and hoop.
While the team was having success on the offensive end it focused on slowing down Falcon senior Kelsie Herman (there were two Kelsey/Kelsie Hermans in the game), who scored 23 points and during the game became top scorer in Lakota Nation Invitational history.
Patzlaff said the Wildcats tried a box-and-one, diamond-and-one and man-to-man defense against the Todd County Herman before settling on a one-three-one zone that helped slow her down.
“The girls did a fantastic job in that zone. They kept her from getting to the basket and kept other girls from going off,” he said.
The Falcons whittled the Wildcat lead down to seven late in the second half as the Wildcats went cold from the field, but Wahlstrom poked the ball away on a Todd County pass on an inbounds play and went down for a layup to make the score 47-38, essentially icing the game.
“Josey probably played her best overall game,” Patzlaff said. “She played extremely well the entire tournament. She keeps getting better and better.”
Kortemeyer had a strong game as well, posing a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Friday of the tournament saw the team fall to Cheyenne Eagle-Butte 51-48, despite double-doubles from both Herman (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Kortemeyer (11 points, 14 rebounds).
The Wildcats were able to score with 1.1 seconds left on the clock to cut the lead to three, but were unable to get the ball back for a potential game-tying shot.
“We are getting better. We just came up a little bit short,” Patzlaff said.
Patzlaff pointed out the Wildcats made only 10 of 22 free throw attempts in the loss.
“It would have been nice to put those in. Anytime you have a one-possession game you can point to a whole lot of stuff,” he said.
The girls had a tough time Thursday morning of the tournament, as they were hammered by Red Cloud 51-16 in a game the Crusaders led at one point 36-7. Wahlstrom was the team’s leading scorer in the game with six points.
The ’Cats had as bad of a shooting game as you will see, making only five of 42 field goal attempts— an 11.9 percent clip.
“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean from a boat,” Patzlaff said. “We just could not score. We had open layups that didn’t go in. It was one of those games.”
Patzlaff said Red Cloud is a strong team that plays hard and contest shots, but said despite the lopsided score the Wildcats didn’t play all that badly.
“When we play them a second time hopefully we can put the ball in the basket a little bit,” he said. “If we got some shots to go down we probably would have stayed in the game.”
The Wildcats opened the tournament by defeating Lower Brule 51-40 behind a balanced scoring attack from Wahlstrom, Herman and Kortemeyer, who all scored 10 points. Kortemeyer had a double-double in the game, as she also pulled down 11 rebounds.
Patzlaff said the team started terribly, piling up 21 turnovers in the first half, but managed to stay in the game because of defense and a dominating rebound performance. The Wildcats won the battle of the glass 48-26.
“Our posts played fantastic the entire tournament,” Patzlaff said.
Patzlaff said the team did a much better job not turning the ball over the second half, leading to what he said was a good win against a solid team.
Patzlaff said it was important for the team to win its first game of the tournament to feel like progress had been made after getting blown out by Todd County in the first round of the tournament a year ago.
“We improved a lot over the course of the tournament. It’s further proof our program is moving in the right direction and the girls are working,” he said. “We played really hard. I can’t fault our effort. That’s a big difference over last year.”
Friday the team heads to Chadron, Neb., for the Chadron Holiday Tournament on the campus of Chadron State College. The Wildcats will play two games in two days, begining Friday against Hemingford, Neb.
“I would suspect Chadron (which plays Valentine, Neb.) will come out of the other side of that,” Patzlaff said. “They are an outstanding team, so it would be a nice test to see where we are if we can take care of business in that first game.”

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