Boys hand Bison third loss, fall to Belle, Douglas

Jason Ferguson

Custer High School boys basketball was not for the faint of heart last week.
Over the course of about 50 hours the Wildcats played a pair of heart-stoppers, coming out on the good side of the latter of the two games while falling in the first game of the week as both the Hot Springs Bison and Douglas Patriots paid a visit to the Armory.
Included in last week’s mix was a Saturday afternoon game in Belle Fourche where the team suffered a tough 48-38 loss that was a hit to the Wildcats in terms of regional seeding.
Last Thursday night the Wildcats welcomed their rival Bison to a packed Armory, and were likely considered the underdogs as their neighbors to the south came into the game sporting an 11-2 record.
The Bison left with a record of 11-3, however, as the Wildcats led most of the game but never pulled away from a feisty Hot Springs squad in a 54-48 win.
“It was a great atmosphere. When you think of a high school basketball game—band playing, big crowds—that was just a fun atmosphere,” Custer head coach Paul Kelley said. “(Hot Springs head coach) Aaron (Noteboom) does a great job getting his kids to play hard. We know they are going to come out and battle.”
Battle they did and a battle it was throughout, as Custer fell behind early as Preston Iverson hit a pair of the eight three-pointers the Bison had in the game to stake the Bison to a 6-2 lead.
Custer scored the next six points, including an old-fashioned three-point play by Kyle Virtue, to take a 7-6 lead, and the Wildcats continued to lead throughout the remainder of the quarter, which included a late Carter Boyster three-pointer for a 16-11 Wildcat lead.
Matt Close scored four quick Hot Springs points to start the second quarter, but Rhett Lowe answered with a three-pointer, which was quickly followed by a Landon Iverson three-pointer for the Bison. Custer went into the latter stages of the first half with a 28-24 lead after two Gage Tennyson free throws and a Boyster free throw, but a Braden Grill three-pointer at the buzzer cut the Wildcat lead to one at 28-27 at the half.
The third quarter saw several lead changes, as Hot Springs took a 34-32 lead behind another Preston Iverson three-pointer, only to see that answered by another Lowe three-pointer and a tough drive by Tennyson for a basket.
Custer led 39-36 with 2:16 left in the quarter before Landon Iverson hit another three-pointer and Tyler Remington hit a three-pointer of his own as time expired in the quarter to put the Bison back on top 42-41.
Custer immediately got the lead back when Sawyer Schramm scored inside to start the fourth quarter and had the lead up to five before Hot Springs scored four consecutive points to cut the Custer lead to 48-46.
Custer scored once more, however, and on the next Bison possession Tennyson came away with a steal and slammed the ball home to effectively shut the door on the game at 52-46 with just over a minute remaining. Lowe put the finishing touches on the game with two free throws with 28 seconds remaining.
“We’re still not satisfied with what we are doing offensively,” Kelley said. “We are not executing but we are making the big plays when they need to be made. More importantly, we made our free throws.”
Kelley lauded his defense, saying once his players controlled the penetration that was leading to wide open kick-out threes the team did a much better job containing Bison shots.
“Our zone has gotten so much better. Kyle and Sawyer have some length to them. Trying to shoot over those two is hard,” he said. “We’re playing better gaps in our matchup.
“Our interior defense did a great job, which allowed our four outside guys to stretch things out as the game progressed.”
Tennyson had 15 points in the game, while Virtue added 13 and Lowe had 12.
Last Saturday afternoon in Belle Fourche the Wildcats struggled mightily from the field and were dominated on the boards in a loss that severely damaged Custer’s chances of hosting a home game when regional play starts.
“I don’t know if we have played a worse game. We missed everything. We missed so many layups in the first part of the game,” Kelley said. “It was just one of those games.”
Despite the poor shooting Custer did manage to take a late lead and tied the score at 35-35 before the Broncs went on a 13-3 run to end the game.
“Thursday night (against Hot Springs) was an emotional game. It took a lot out of us,” Kelley said. “Overall, I thought our defense did really well. It was just our inability to put the ball in the basket. We didn’t do the little things we needed to do to be successful.”
Tennyson had 12 points for Custer, which shot only 29 percent as a team. Virtue added 11 and 13 rebounds.
On Feb. 1, the Wildcats saw the Douglas Patriots erase a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 61-57 loss.
After taking an early 3-0 lead, Douglas didn’t lead again until there were 43 seconds left in the game.
“Honestly, I think I used our kids too long. I didn’t give them enough breaks early,” Kelley said. “We ran out of gas and made some mental mistakes.”
Tennyson brought the crowd to its feet with a drive and tomahawk dunk to put Custer up 8-5 early in the game, which was followed by a Lowe three-pointer to put Custer up 11-5 with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
Landon Cast hit a three-pointer to cut the Custer lead to three, but that was answered by a Virtue basket on which he was fouled and made the subsequent free throw to put Custer back on top by six. Douglas answered with a three-pointer, much as they did the entire game, when Connor Sauvage hit a three to cut the Wildcat lead to 14-11 at the end of the first quarter.
The teams combined for five total points in the first four minutes of the second quarter before Cade Lehman hit a three-pointer for Custer to make the score 19-14. Douglas went on a small run to end the quarter, and Custer maintained a narrow 22-18 lead at the half.
The Wildcats looked like they might run away with the game in the fourth quarter, starting with a Schramm layup that was followed by another Virtue three points on a basket on which he was fouled. Lowe added an outside three-pointer and Tennyson scored inside, and by the time Lowe pulled up from the top of the key for another three-pointer Custer had taken a 41-29 lead.
Douglas began to make its charge in the fourth quarter, led by Dylan Schelske, who buried a pair of three-pointers early in the frame, the latter of which cut the Custer lead to 46-41.
“Give Douglas some credit. They hit some bombs,” Kelley said. “If (Schelske) doesn’t hit those, we walk away with an easy win. We weren’t concerned about their inside game. We knew they were going to shoot a lot of threes.”
The Patriots got the score even closer after a Sawyer Brose steal and layup, but Virtue went to work in the post for Custer soon thereafter and scored six straight Custer points, putting the Wildcats back up 56-48.
Schelske answered with another three-pointer, and Aven Stafford collected an offensive rebound and scored for Douglas to make the score 56-53 in favor of Custer with 1:34 left in the game.
Stafford hit a wild shot on Douglas’ next possession to cut the Custer lead to one, and Sauvage was fouled after a steal and made both free throws to put Douglas on top 57-56 with 43 seconds remaining in the game.
On Custer’s next possession Tennyson missed a shot inside but Virtue collected the rebound and was fouled, making one of two free throws to tie the score at 57. Douglas followed that up with an easy bucket when a teammate found Austin Campbell all alone under the basket for a layup and a 59-57 lead with eight seconds remaining.
Custer’s final possession, which took place on an inbounds in their own half of the court, saw a high pass deflect off Virtue’s hands and Lowe being ruled out of bounds as he tried to collect the loose ball. Custer was then forced to foul Sauvage when Douglas threw the ball in, and he made both free throws to seal the win. The Patriots outscored Custer 30-14 in the final quarter.
“They thought we were going to go to Gage. We had Gage pop out, and Kyle came across the lane,” Kelley said of the final play. “We got in too big of a hurry. I take the blame. I didn’t tell them not to rush. It was poor timing and it got away from us.”
The Wildcats didn’t help their cause at the free throw line, where they finished eight of 19. Douglas, on the other hand, hit eight out of 12 attempts.
“We’ve talked a lot about free throws. Our record would be a lot different if we shot better free throws,” Kelley said. “To win on the road and win close games you have to make your free throws.”
Virtue finished the game with 22 points, while Tennyson had 14.
The Wildcats will look to start another winning streak Thursday evening when the Spearfish Spartans come to town for a 7:30 p.m. tip at the Armory. Saturday the team is in the Armory once more for a game against Lakota Tech, a makeup game from a postponement that happened early in December.
Spearfish 5-8, is a team that lost their best player early in the season, which has led to some struggles.
“They’re like Douglas. They play tough teams and play hard,” Kelley said. “We’re going to have to play well. They’ve had our number the last few years.”
Lakota Tech enters the game at 7-5 and is currently awash in a three-game losing streak.
“They have good shooters and have a good post in (Tristan) LeBeau,” Kelley said. “They are a scary team. We have to attack LeBeau with our posts, cover their shooters and not let them get into their style of play. We have to control the tempo as much as possible against them.”
Custer    6    7    19    6    —38
BF    9    8    15    16    —48
Custer—Sawyer Schramm 2-10 2-2 7, Kade Lehman 1-2 0-0 3, Rhett Lowe 1-7 1-2 4, Kyle Virtue 5-16 1-3 11, Gage Tennyson 5-11 2-4 12, Carter Boyster 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 14-48 7-13 38.
Belle Fourche—Gabe Heck 4-12 0-0 12, Tatin Yackley 1-2 0-0 3, Anthony Budmayr 4-18 8-11 16, Aiden Giffin 3-9 5-7 11, Caiden Stores 1-4 0-0 3, Ryker Audiss 1-13 0-0 2, Anthony Staley 0-1 0-0 0, Cole Hockenbary 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 14-62 14-20 48.
Three-point goals—Custer 3 (Schramm, Lehman, Lowe), BF 6 (Heck 4, Yackley, Stores). Rebounding: Custer 32 (Virtue 13), BF 40 (Budmayr 13). Steals: Custer 2, BF 11. Assists: Custer 8, BF 8. Turnovers: Custer 19, BF 9. Total fouls: Custer 15, BF 15. Fouled out: Schramm, Audiss.
Custer    16    12    13    13    —54
HS    11    16    15    6    —48
Custer—Brody Storm 0-1 0-0 0, Sawyer Schramm 3-7 0-0 6, Kade Lehman 1-2 0-0 2, Rhett Lowe 2-7 6-7 12, Kyle Virtue 4-12 5-5 13, Gage Tennyson 6-10 3-7 15, Carter Boyster 2-3 1-2 6. Totals: 18-42 15-21 54.
Hot Springs—Tyler Remington 1-3 0-0 3, Camron Maciejewski 4-7 0-0 9, Josh Kleinsasser 1-1 0-0 3, Braden Grill 5-8 0-0 10, Matt Close 2-5 0-1 4, Landon Iverson 1-4 0-0 3, Preston Iverson 5-14 0-0 14, Will Gilbertson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 20-44 0-1 48.
Three-point goals: Custer 3 (Lowe 2, Boyster), HS 8 (P. Iverson 4), Remington, Maciejewski, Kleinsasser, L. Iverson). Rebounding: Custer 22 (Virtue 6), HS 1 (Maciejewski 7). Steals: Custer 8, HS 6. Assists: Custer 10, HS 10. Turnovers: Custer 17, HS 21. Total fouls: Custer 11, HS 19. Fouled out: none.
Custer    14    8    21    14    —57
Doug    11    7    13    30    —61
Custer— Sawyer Schramm 3-3 0-1 6, Kade Lehman 3-5 0-0 9, Rhett Lowe 2-8 0-0 6, Kyle Virtue 9-19 4-10 22, Gage Tennyson 5-16 4-4 14, Mikael Grace 0-1 0-2 0, Carter Boyster 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 22-4 8-19 57.
Douglas—Connor Sauvage 9-23 4-4 25, Jesse Hand 0-1 0-0 0, Dylan Schelske 5-11 1-2 15, Landon Cast 1-4 0-0 3, Sawyer Brose 3-6 2-2 9, Aven Stafford 3-6 0-0 6, Wyatt Pettyjohn 0-1 0-0 0, Anthony Jindra 0-2 0-0 0, Austin Campbell 1-5 1-4 3. Totals: 22-61 8-12 61.
Three-point goals: Custer 5 (Leman 3, Lowe 2), Douglas 9 (Sauvage 3, Schelske 4, Cast, Brose). Rebounding: Custer 29 (Virtue 8), Douglas 30 (Stafford 7). Steals: Custer 12, Douglas 4. Assists: Custer 13 (Lowe 6), Douglas 10. Turnovers: Custer 12, Douglas 11. Total fouls: Custer 14, Douglas 15. Fouled out: Schramm.


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