Wildcats on four-game skid

Jason Ferguson
It was another tough week for the Custer High School girls basketball team last week, as the team’s losing streak grew to four with a pair of close losses.
Friday the team traveled  to Hart Ranch to take on the Rapid City Christian Comets, where the Wildcats lost in overtime 48-43.
The game was close throughout, and Custer had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but could not get the winning basket. Head coach Mick Patzlaff lamented the team’s 23 turnovers as well as its inability to get the ball into the post in the first half.
“When we got the ball inside good things happened either with a pass or penetration,” he said. “When we didn’t we were not good. It took me the better part of half the game to get five people on the floor who would understand that. Once we did we were fine but it didn’t work out (in the end).”
Patzlaff pointed out the team shot 50 percent from the floor when the shot was taken in the paint, and just 16 percent from anywhere else on the court. That, he said, is why it was imperative the Wildcats work to get the ball inside on the offensive end.
“We just gave away too many possessions by not getting the ball where it needed to go,” he said. “We had 31 possessions where we didn’t get the ball inside.”
In a close game things like a rough night from the free throw line are also magnified, and the Wildcats were able to connect on only seven of 21 trips to the line.
On defense the team did what it could to limit Christian’s freshman scoring machine Olivia Kieffer. Kieffer went for 30 points but needed 28 shots to get there.
Josey Wahlstrom led the team’s scoring charge with 15 points while also pulling down eight rebounds. Kellyn Kortemeyer added 11 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
In addition to Wahlstrom and Kortemeyer’s strong games, Patzlaff said Alice Sedlacek did a nice job getting to the rim, while Ramsey Karim came off the bench to help get the ball inside and Anna Lewis also came off the bench to play a strong game. 
Last Thursday evening the girls reversed their trend of slow starts, leading for the first three quarters of the game before being outscored 26-10 in the fourth quarter on the way to losing 57-45 to the visiting Douglas Patriots.
“We executed the game plan for three quarters. We did what we needed to do,” Patzlaff said. “We have some kids who are playing well. We’re struggling sometimes to execute. When we don’t execute we’re just not a very good basketball team. When we execute we’re not bad.”
The Wildcats took an early lead via a long Tobie Zerbe two-point shot and led 10-5 at the end of the first period after Kelsey Herman dished the ball to Kortemeyer for a basket.
A Wahlstrom drive and basket extended Custer’s lead to 12-5 at the outset of the second period, which was followed by a Cinthia Rubio-Hernandez bucket off an offensive rebound.
Douglas attempted to get back into the game via the long ball, as Makayla Grim and Nique High Hawk both hit three-pointers to cut the Custer lead to six, but Custer answered with a three-pointer of its own from Sedlacek. A Lewis bucket at the halftime buzzer sent the Wildcats into the break with a 25-17 lead.
After a Kortemeyer putback following two offensive rebounds, Custer was back on top by 10. The Patriots used missiles from deep to claw back into the game, as High Hawk buried a three-pointer and Grim hit a pair of her own. Grim hit four three-pointers in the game while the Patriots hit several as a team.
“They live from out there. They don’t have a real inside game to speak of,” Patzlaff said of Douglas’ three-point shooting. “In the first half when we were forcing them to put it on the floor and try to score inside they didn’t have a whole lot.”
The third quarter also saw the game become more physical, with bodies hitting the floor and plenty of tie-ups that ended with a bit of extracurricular activity. After a Talyiah Green three-pointer put the Patriots within three points at 34-31, Wahlstrom took the final of the hard fouls in the period on a layup attempt and was able to convert one of the free throws.
Another Grim three-pointer put the Patriots on top for the first time since the first quarter at 36-35 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats reclaimed the lead, thanks to a Wahlstrom baseline drive for two followed by a Lewis offensive rebound and basket.
At the 4:23 mark, however, Grim did more damage as she buried a corner three-pointer on which she was fouled and made the subsequent free throw. Not even a minute later Grim was fouled attempting a three-pointer and canned all three free throws, giving the Patriots a 45-40 lead. Grim finished the game with 12  points, while the Patriots made free throw after free throw.
Patzlaff pointed out Custer sent Douglas to the free throw line 29 times, and said several of the trips to the line were a result of unwise fouls on Custer’s part.
“There is smart basketball and there is not smart basketball. We spent the fourth quarter playing not smart,” he said. “Give them credit, they hit shots.”
A 13-0 Douglas run was capped by two more free throws and another three-pointer—this one by Alyssa Sandoval-Jimenez—before Sedlacek hit another three-pointer to stop the bleeding and put Custer back within seven.
Two Wahlstrom free throws at the 1:30 mark cut the Patriot lead to five at 50-45, but the dagger was provided shortly thereafter by—who else?—Grim, who buried yet another corner three-pointer to put the Patriots back up eight.
Wahlstrom was Custer’s  team’s leading scorer in the game with 11 points.
The Wildcats will try to get back into the win column when they host the 1-10 Hot Springs Bison at 6 p.m. in the Armory in the team’s only game of the week.
Playing against a young Bison team that has struggled this season, Patzlaff said he hopes his now 7-8 team can get back on the winning track.
“It depends on if we are going to go out and give it away or go out and execute. That’s kind of where we are right now, Patzlaff said. “We are not going to beat anybody if we’re not going to play together and aren’t on the same page. We have given away several games here lately we could have won.”
Custer 5 8 13 16 1 —43
RCC 9 7 14 12 6 —48
Custer —Allie Kelley 1-1 0-0 2, Mallory Delmont 1-3 0-0 2, Ramsey Karim 0-2 0-0 0, Tobie Zerbe 0-3 0-0 0, Alice Sedlacek 3-9 3-9 9, Josey Wahlstrom 6-16 3-10 15, Cinthia Rubio-Hernandez 0-1 0-0 0, Kaitlyn Spring 0-1 0-0 0, Anna Lewis 1-2 0-0 2, Taylor Heinrichs 0-1 0-0 0, Kelsey Herman 1-10 0-0 2, Kellyn Kortemeyer 5-9 1-2 11. Totals: 18-58 7-21 43.
Rapid City Christian—Morgan Swartout 0-4 0-0 0, Abby Pierce 2-7 0-0 6, Skylar Amendariz 1-4 0-0 2, Ari Hendrickson 4-9 0-1 8, Olivia Kieffer 9-28 11-18 30, Sarah Burkhalter 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 17-55 11-19 48.
Three-point goals:RCC 3 (Pierce 2, Kieffer). Rebounding: Custer 46 (Kortemeyer 14), RCC 32. Steals: Custer 9, RCC 6. Assists: Custer 9, RCC 10. Turnovers: Custer 23, RCC 15. Total fouls: Custer 16, RCC 17. Fouled out: Kortemeyer.

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