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Biesecker leads Kimball on Parent’s Night; Strong close from Hemingford gives Longhorns 9th straight loss

KIMBALL, Neb. - Despite a nasty Friday in the Nebraska Panhandle with winter storm advisories and snow all around the area, the Kimball Longhorns and Hemingford Bobcats met at ‘The Arena’ at Kimball High School for a pair of Class C2 District 12 games.

In recent years, this series between district opponents had belonged to Hemingford as the girls entered Friday’s game having won eight straight over the Lady Longhorns and the boys had taken the last five.

In the first game of the evening featuring Kimball (5-15, 2-1 C2-12) and the Lady ‘Cats (5-16, 0-3 C2-12) both squads were looking to gather some momentum prior to heading into their Sub-District tournament beginning next Tuesday. The Lady Longhorns and Hemingford both held a similar story line throughout the season with the injury bug biting hard resulting in subpar seasons overall.

Kimball entered Friday night’s match-up having lost three straight while the Lady ‘Cats had dropped their last six dating back to January 15 against Hay Springs. With it also being the final home game for a pair of seniors, Hannah Biesecker and Justine Heeg, the Lady Longhorns were determined to come away with a victory against their district foes.

Heeg knocked down a three-point shot to open the game for Kimball, but the excitement died down considerably over the next several minutes as the girls in red went on an 11-0 run to grab and early eight-point lead thanks to getting hot from behind the arc themselves, with three players making shots from downtown. The Lady Longhorns fought their way back, though, and pulled to within three to end the opening quarter.

Biesecker caught fire in the second for the home team tallying nine points in the frame, but fouls started to pile up as Hemingford went to the line 12 times in the second quarter alone, connecting on eight of their attempts. By halftime, the Lady ‘Cats held a 29-25 advantage.

Kimball took their first lead since the opening 30 seconds of the game in the third quarter outscoring their opponent 15-8, eight of the points coming from Biesecker, to take a 40-37 margin into the final eight minutes of regulation.

To open the fourth, the Lady Longhorns went on an 11-0 run of their own, with four different players scoring, to push the lead to double digits, 51-37. But, Hemingford didn’t lay down lightly storming back to cut the lead back to single digits. Late in the stanza, though, junior Lauren Gasseling and senior Anna Manning both picked up their fifth fouls and the late rally fell short as Kimball held on to win, 57-50.

The 57 points were the most the Lady Longhorns had scored in a game since December 16 on the road against Bayard, while the 50 was the highest total all season for the Lady ‘Cats. Biesecker earned player of the game recognition finishing with a game-high 23 points while pulling in eight rebounds in her final home game. Despite her night ending early due to foul trouble, Gasseling still led Hemingford with 16 points.

Senior Kelli Horstman also joined her teammate, Gasseling, in double digits with 13 points in the game, while Manning and freshman Kate Varner both scored six for the ‘Lady Cats. Junior Josie Stewart and freshman Kyla Walker closed out the scoring with five and four points, respectively.

For Kimball, Heeg also finished in double figures with 11 points, while sophomore Carli Wurdeman just narrowly missed out by totaling nine. Four other players scored in the game for the Lady Longhorns as freshman Sydney Biesecker chipped in six off the bench, junior Madison Wynne had five, and a pair of freshmen, Megan Spicer and Samantha Bemis combined for three points, Spicer two and Bemis one.

After the girls picked up a much needed win, the attention turned to the boys as Kimball (4-13, 1-3 C2-12) entered Friday night having lost eight straight going back to January 9 on the road against Potter-Dix. On the other sideline, the Bobcats came in having won four of their last five with the lone loss being a one-point heartbreaker against Bridgeport in the Western Trails Conference (WTC) Tournament.

It seemed the fates of both teams would continue down the same path in the opening quarter as Hemingford came out firing knocking down three shots from behind the arc in the early going. Freshman Kenny Wyland provided a spark off the bench as well scoring seven in the first frame as by the end of one, the Longhorns trailed 20-9.

Kimball received their own lift off the bench in the second, however, as junior Colton Mielke (8) and senior Kole Bush (5) got the ball rolling offensively as the home team brought the crowd back into it scoring 19 in the frame and finding themselves trailing only by two heading to the locker room, 30-28.

The strong finish to the first half carried over into the third quarter for the Longhorns as they put another 21 up on the board with four different players scoring at least four points each. The Bobcats seemed to regain their offensive footing too as they stayed stride-for-stride and by the end of the third, the game was back where it began, all tied up, 49 each.

The fourth quarter, however, was a different story. Entering the game, Hemingford owned a 5-1 record in road games this season and they showed why in the final stanza closing strong and outscoring the Longhorns 23-12 down the stretch, eight points coming from a freshman, Brian Turek, and closing out a hard fought, 72-61 road victory.

For the second straight game, Kimball gave up over 70 points to their opponent after losing to Pine Bluffs, WY, 74-39 on Tuesday. For the Bobcats, they extended their winning streak over the district opponent to six straight dating back to February 2014.

Mielke received player of the game honors for the Longhorns leading the way with 15 points off the bench while, unofficially, also leading the team in steals with four. Turek led all scorers in the game for Hemingford totaling 19.

Sophomore Aaron Farritor was right behind his teammate with 18 of his own points while Wyland managed 13 off the bench. Senior Ezra Ray just missed the double digit club with nine points while senior Miles Davis and sophomore Hunter Stevens both scored five a piece. The other three belonged to junior Luke Cullan.

Sophomore Beau Hanks provided nine of the 33 points off the bench for Kimball with the other nine coming from the senior Bush (5) and sophomore Brayden Tyan (4). In the starting lineup, junior Izaac Reuter and sophomore Brendan Walker both managed seven points while the trio of junior Zane Anthony, junior Corey Travis, and sophomore Brady Kilgore each scored four.

For both girls teams, they now turn their focus to the Sub-District tournament beginning next Tuesday at Gering High School. As the four-seed, the Lady ‘Cats will take on the top-seeded Bridgeport Lady Bulldogs, a team they’ve lost to twice this year, while Kimball will try to carry the momentum gained from Friday night’s win into a semifinal meeting with the Bayard Lady Tigers. The Lady Longhorns have beaten Bayard twice this season, but the last meeting was decided by just one point, 44-43, in the WTC Tournament.

The boys still have one more week of the regular season to play, though both teams will have a week off until their next outing. Hemingford wraps up their season at home against the Crawford Rams next Friday night while Kimball will host Mitchell that same evening in their season finale.

 

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