Bearcats headed back to Lincoln

Scottsbluff won the rubber game of its season series with McCook, 52-48, Tuesday night and along with it came a third straight District B6 title and a trip to the Boys State Basketball Tournament in Lincoln next week.

The battle between the defending state champion Bearcats and the Bison lived up to expectations as the game wasn't decided until the closing moments.

McCook had topped Scottsbluff 59-to-45 at the GNAC Holiday Tournament in December in Columbus. Scottsbluff won in McCook three weeks ago in overtime and what head coach Tony Siske thought heading into meeting number three came to fruition.

"I thought we were two evenly matched teams coming into the game," he said. "I thought we played some great defense and had a total team effort to come away with the win against a very good team."

The contest was close throughout. The biggest lead enjoyed by both teams was just five points. McCook led at the end of the first quarter 14-to-13 thanks to a last second shot by senior Cody Wudtke. He scored a game high 24 points for the Bison.

Scottsbluff took a one point lead, 29-to-28 into halftime. The Cats held that one point lead at 40-to-39 going into the fourth quarter.

McCook took a four point lead midway through the period but the Cats battled back. Seniors Eric Moreno and Michael Hadden combined to score 11 of the teams 12 points in the quarter, and a Moreno three put the Cats up for good.

"I couldn't be happier for our kids," Siske said afterwards. "They battled through some adversity this season, plus they had to find there own identity following last years team. They did it. They exceeded my expectations and I am proud of them."

Hadden led the Bearcats with 16 points Tuesday, scoring eight in each half. Moreno followed with 13. Senior Matt Klein had nine points, all on three point field goals in the second quarter and sophomore Jackson Hinze added six points, including five big ones in the third quarter. He also hit a free throw at the end to make it a two possession game in the closing moments.

"Everybody did their job tonight," Hadden said. "We needed everyone to come through to beat a team like McCook. They are good solid top five team."

However, they did not earn a wild card to the state tournament even though they were fourth in Class B power points heading into the game. In District B2 top seeded Elkhorn South lost last night in the semifinals to Gretna and Tuesday night the Dragons topped number two Ralston. So all three of those teams are headed to state.

Joining Scottsbluff and the three B2 teams at state will be Waverly, South Sioux City, York, an Aurora.

Scottsbluff will be top seeded for the tournament and play Aurora in a rematch from last years first round. Last years game was played at Pershing Center. This year it will be a 7:00 p.m CT game at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

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