ALLIANCE — In an early-season battle between Western Conference rivals, the Sidney girls and boys basketball teams both escaped with tough road wins over Alliance on Thursday night at Alliance High School.
Karissa Segelke’s 12-footer in the closing seconds lifted the Sidney girls to a thrilling 32-31 victory, while the Red Raiders’ boys used a big third quarter to pull away for a 45-36 decision.
Segelke’s game-winning shot helped Sidney overcome a cold-shooting performance at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. The Raiders converted just 1 of their 8 opportunities at the stripe in the final eight minutes.
“Shooting that poorly from the free-throw line really makes it tough on you down the stretch,” Sidney girls coach Tyler Shaw said. “It was ugly. We’re just fortunate to sneak out of here with a win.”
Alliance, which trailed by nine entering the final frame, took advantage of Sidney’s free-throw misfortunes to eventually pull into a two-point lead with just over a minute to play. After Jeni Heeren hit one of two free throws to bring Sidney within one, senior Madi Malzahn gained possession right back for the Raiders by collecting a steal off the full-court press. Segelke received the ball a few passes later and drained the clutch jumper.
Sidney set the tone to the contest early on by outscoring the Bulldogs 6-0 in the first quarter. The Raiders held a 14-8 advantage at halftime. Alliance finally caught fire in the final quarter by outscoring Sidney 14-6.
“We played great defense for about three quarters and then we got a little complacent,” Shaw said. “But early on our defense was really good. I don’t know if we maybe got tired or were just frustrated by the offense not producing. In any case, we got lucky.”
Sarah Krueger paced Sidney offensively in the game with eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Malzahn added five points.
Alliance senior Shae Brennan led all scorers with 10 points. Brennan, who re-injured a knee in the teams’ first meeting of the season back on Nov. 30, returned to the Bulldogs’ starting lineup on Thursday. Morgan Anthony chipped in six points for Alliance, which dropped to 3-3.
The win improved Sidney to 4-1 on the season. The Raiders’ lone setback was a nine-point loss to undefeated Chadron in the championship game of the Western Conference Invitational Tournament on Dec. 1.
“It’s been nice to be in a position to win all of the games we’ve won so far,” Shaw said. “Hopefully, we can keep doing that. It just would be nice if we didn’t make it so hard on ourselves down the stretch like we did tonight.”
The first half of Thursday’s boys contest couldn’t have been much tighter. The teams were tied at 8-8 following the opening eight minutes before Alliance edged in front 19-17 at intermission.
The second half, especially the third quarter, belonged all to Sidney. The Raiders outscored the Bulldogs 21-9 in the first eight minutes of the second half to build a 10-point cushion. That proved to be the difference.
Sidney’s Casey Mabey led all scorers with 13 points. Lane Harvey also reached the double-figure scoring column for the Raiders with 10 points. Paxton Ehler netted eight points.
Isaac Burnham led Alliance offensively with 11 points. Trevor Kamerzell and Josh Matulka both added seven points each.
The win improved the Raiders to 3-2 on the season, while Alliance dropped to 3-3.
Both squads will be back in action today. Sidney will host Perkins County, while Alliance will welcome in St. Thomas Moore out of Rapid City, S.D.
Sidney (4-1) .............. 6 8 12 6 — 32
Alliance (3-3) .............. 0 8 9 14 — 31
S: Abbi Porter 4, Sarah Mahr 4, Sarah Krueger 8, Madi Malzahn 5, Karissa Segelke 4, Katelin Cole 3, Jeni Heeren 4.
A: Gabby Conley 2, Morgan Anthony 6, Danielle Brennan 4, Andri Halouska 3, Shae Brennan 10, Rylee Trout 3, Olivia Vogel 3.
Sidney (3-2) ............... 8 9 21 7 — 45
Alliance (3-3) ................. 8 11 9 8 — 36
S: Casey Mabey 13, Lane Harvey 10, Hunter Vowers 1, Paxton Ehler 8, Logan Lewis 6, Sam Arterburn 6, Lucas Rosenbaum 1.
A: Ryan Romick 4, Isaac Burnham 11, Josh Matulka 7, Trevor Kamerzell 7, Sage DuBray 4, Alex DuBray 3.