The Ewing girls and boys basketball teams split Tuesday’s doubleheader at Elkhorn Valley
The girls contest was one of the most highly anticipated matchups in the area, and the Lady Falcons and Lady Tigers did not disappoint.
Four quarters was not enough and Ewing rallied to defeat EV, 49-41, in overtime.
“We told them to keep playing and the lid might come off,” commented Ewing girls mentor Greg Appleby. “We got good shots, we just didn’t get them in. Then we went into a little bit better of an attack mode in the fourth quarter. Elkhorn Valley hit big shots and we were down by 6 with 90 seconds, and our girls stepped up with two 3s and a tied ball game. The defense won the ball game for us. We played a 3-2 defense and were able to get to their shooters and still stop their touches inside.”
It was a defensive struggle to open the contest, as Ewing led 9-7 after the first eight minutes of play.
“It sure seemed like what I would envision as a 1920s ball game to be,” remarked EV girls coach Brendan Dittmer. “There was poor shooting on both sides for a while. We had a lot of opportunities, but our shots didn’t fall.”
After an Olivia Nall 3-pointer opened the second, the Lady Tigers used a 14-7 run to take a 23-17 advantage into the break.
“We were short tonight,” Appleby said. “We were without Sidney Stallbaum, who is probably our second or third leading scorer. We needed to hang in there and I was worried because they (EV) are a great shooting team, they were in their gym and us getting shot out of this thing early. Our goal was to hang around early, and we did more than hang around. We controlled the first half and it was good, we needed to hang in there early.”
The Lady Falcons began their comeback the third. EV (9-2) held Ewing to just 1 point, while netting 10 points of its own to take a 27-24 advantage into the fourth.
Back-to-back Sierra Rystrom triples, pushed the Lady Falcons' lead to 37-31 with 90 seconds remaining in the game.
“They were leaving the corner open and Sierra Rystrom got hot,” Dittmer recalled. “That was good to see because we needed that. We were lacking confidence with our shots. She hit two baseline 3s and that really got us going in the right direction for a while.”
The Lady Tigers answered with trifectas by Brenna Wagner and Tiana Thramer to knot the game at 37.
Tied at 39, Wagner's runner was off the mark and Hannah Ollendick was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer.
A Thramer trey, Ashley Koenig steal to layup and Jaidyn Schindler 3-pointer gave the orange and black a 47-39 lead in the first minute of overtime.
“It took the air out of their balloon,” Appleby mentioned. “It was bam, bam and we got that lead early on. You could feel we sucked all momentum and we were tired, but it gave our girls energy to keep playing. That was huge.”
While the Ewing (9-2) offense was humming, EV's offense went ice cold, netting just two free throws in overtime.
Three Lady Tigers scored in double figures, led by Wagner’s 13 points. Koenig and Thramer each netted 12 points, Miranda Summers had 6 points, while Schindler and Hailey Rotherham each added 3 points.
“We do a good job,” Appleby stated. “We got girls that pass the ball and look for each other. We’re not a team that has one superstar we rely on for 25. We got a number of people that can hit shots. One of the keys was passing against their 1-3-1. Passing was our No.1 key we talked about and we needed to be a good passing team.”
Hannah Ollendick recorded a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Rystrom accumulated 11 points and seven boards, Nall pitched in 7 points and seven rebounds and Amber Miller accumulated 7 points, six rebounds and four steals.
In the boys matchup, a big second-half run propelled EV past Ewing, 61-36.
“We started out sluggish, both offensively and defensively,” stated EV boys coach Deric Werner. “(This past) Saturday we played the best basketball our program has since I’ve been coaching (a 44-43 loss to West Holt). So I was extremely frustrated with our effort tonight.”
It was a tightly contest ball game to start. The first 16 minutes of play saw five ties and the largest lead was 4 by Elkhorn Valley.
After a Julio Sierra jumper and Derek Hahne layup pushed the Falcons' lead to 4, Joey Wright netted a layup just before the buzzer to cut EV's lead to 23-21 at the half.
A pair of free throw by Wright tied the game at 23 to start the third. The Falcons responded by blowing the game open with a 25-8 run to end the quarter.
“The biggest adjustment we made in the second half was we quit standing still on offense,” Werner noted. “So much of our offense is dictated on movement. The first half, we didn’t move without the ball. In the second half, we moved and got some easier shots.”
EV's (6-5) defense picked up the pressure, which led to some easy buckets in the quarter. Big Green turned 9 Ewing (0-11) turnovers into 11 points.
“Our defense really kicked in,” Sierra spoke. “Coach (Werner) drew up a game plan to have us press and it put more pressure on the other team, which led to easy baskets. Our defense helped a lot and carried over to our offense, because our energy was really good with the defense and it helped with our offense.”
The big run proved to be enough as the Falcons won their second game in three tries.
“It feels really good (to get the win),” Sierra added. “We as a team, have been playing much better and all in all it just helps.”
Braedyn Ollendick netted 13 of his 23 points during EV’s big third quarter run. Carter Rautenberg tallied 13 points, Sierra accounted for 12 points, Bryson Anderson notched 6 points, Hahne had 5 points and Conner Larson added 2 points.
Wright paced the Tigers with 19 points. Conner Napier had 6 points and Wyatt Wagner contributed 4 points.
Elkhorn Valley heads to Niobrara to face Niobrara/Verdigre Friday at 4 p.m.
“We talked on the way home on Saturday about how important this week was to get the confidence back,” Werner stated. “Hopefully this will be a good week for us.”
Dittmer hopes the the Lady Falcons can learn from their tough loss and bounce back against an improved Lady Cougar squad.
“We’re playing for February and March basketball,” Dittmer concluded. “This is hopefully a learning experience for us. Moving forward we won’t ever shoot this poorly again.”
Ewing travels to O’Neill to take on St. Mary’s Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s time to beat someone really good and Elkhorn Valley is really good,” Appleby said. “It was time to beat someone good and hang that thing up on the wall and say ‘That’s a good win.’ The Niobrara Valley Conference is tough. We’ll take that one and move on to the next one.”