The Rapid City Stevens boys’ basketball team had to get a little tougher in the second half, falling behind to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Saturday at Carold Heier Gymnasium.
Senior Cooper Bowman was the epitome of toughness, as a collision for a loose ball not only brought him out of the game, but he had to be helped to the locker room.
But Bowman came back late and hit four free throws to help lift the Raiders past the Bearcats 60-53.
The Raiders trailed 31-24 in a first half that head coach Chris Stoebner felt they weren’t playing as aggressive and tough as they needed to play against a good Bearcat squad, which fell by four points to Rapid City Central Friday night in Scottsbluff.
Even though the Raiders rallied for a big third quarter, it was the final minutes of the fourth that saw them stand up to the Bearcats.
“As a team, defense was very important, and just the distribution of the ball all of the way around, making sure we were moving inside and outside,” junior Dawson Paulsen said. “The main thing was defense in the end.”
Stoebner said the Bearcats were a lot tougher than the Raiders in the first half.
“For some reason we didn’t come ready to compete very well in the first half. That was my message at halftime, win or lose, we have to go harder and we did that,” he said.
Bowman collided with Scottsbluff’s Jasiya DeOllos for a loose ball, and when he tried to get up, he was a little wobbly. The Stevens coaches made him sit for a spell before helping him to the locker room.
After a look in the locker room, he came back and was 4-of-4 from the free-throw line, the final two with 17 seconds remaining, giving the Raiders a 58-51 edge. Scottsbluff had closed an eight-point deficit to one on a couple of occasions, the last with 2:23 to play on a 3-pointer by Noah Bruner.
“It was just a loose ball; we both went for it and I just got a bad bounce. I’m fine,” Bowman said. “I was definitely a little dizzy at first and kind of lost my balance. I’m alright.”
When Bowman left the game, the Raiders were up 45-37. A full to mid-court trap caused Stevens some problems and the Bearcats opened the quarter with seven straight points.
“There’s probably none tougher than (Bowman) on our team,” Stoebner said. “You can see when he went out, we kind of lost it a little bit. We had to get refocused and him coming back and knocking those down were huge for us.”
Paulsen, meanwhile, got the Raiders back into the lead in the second half with his out-side shooting stroke. He finished with six 3-pointers and hit two straight from the top of the key to break a 37-37 tie late in the third.
“It’s just nice that my teammates give me the ball anywhere,” Paulsen said. “We all do a really good job of just moving the ball around. I was just feeling it, and they went in.”
Bowman finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Trey Eberlein added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Will Moore, who had a big tip for a basket late in the game, finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
DeOllos led the Bearcats, 12-6, with a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds, while Devin Buderus added 11 points.
The rally came at a good time for the Raiders, who look to take the momentum into next Friday’s matchup against rival Rapid City Central.
Short-handed Raider girls clobber Scottsbluff
The Rapid City Stevens girls’ basketball team rose above adversity in a big way, stopping Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 68-37 Saturday at Carold Heier Gymnasium.
The 12-2 Raiders recently lost starters Mya Hendry to a knee injury and Grace Martin to a torn ACL. Both are likely out for the season, definitely Martin. Hendry hasn’t had a MRI as of yet, but the initial prognoses isn’t good.
Saturday was a start they needed.
“We were a little worried when both of our girls got hurt; it was kind of difficult,” Stevens senior Sydney Smith said. “We got together and talked, and decided that we were not going to let the other team bring us down. We got together and played hard.”
Stevens coach Michael Brooks said that both Hendry and Martin had tremendous impacts on the team.
“We can’t replace them, but we’re going to have to band together and find a different way to do it,” he said. “I loved how we responded to the adversity today and allowed ourselves to have some new players step up and make some contributions. We’ll see where the future goes.”
Brooks added that with the hurt and disappointment, there are different opportunities than before.
“We’re just going to have to learn through practice and learn through some film study on how to play differently without those two players,” he said. “Luckily it is not right at state time; we have a good month to evolve to make sure we know what we look like by the time state comes.”
Against Scottsbluff, the Raiders had little problems, leading 18-7 at the end of the first period, 31-17 at halftime and 53-21 heading into the fourth.
“We can’t take anybody lightly. The last time we did that our team wasn’t focused and we lost our No. 1 ranking,” Brooks said. “Regardless of whom is able to suit up for us and who we are playing, we have to play one way and have one mindset, and have one voice. That is where I want to see us grow, everybody talking together and communicating on the same page.”
Smith led the Raiders with 13 points (three 3-pointers), while Lexus Eagle Chasing added 12 points and Laura Petrik 10. Stevens shot 51 percent from the field, hitting 8-of-18 3-pointers.
“It was all good once we got on the court. It just came,” Smith said.
Yarra Garcia and Aubrey Krentz led Scottsbluff, 6-11, with 14 points each. The Bearcats shot just 19 percent from the field (9-of-48).
Stevens will face Douglas Tuesday in Box Elder before hosting Rapid City Central on Thursday.