By Dave Faries

2012 In Review

Girls Basketball


Scott Lockwood

Annie McCloud draws the attention of Mitchell defenders.

Just a few days into the new year and several minutes after securing a 51-46 road win over Pine Bluffs, Kimball girls center Tori Reader barely managed a smile. The game had swayed for the longest time in a sweltering gym. And Kimball had already suffered through several disappointing “almosts” throughout December.

“It was probably our best win of the season,” she said, adding “I was extremely worried.”

She needn’t have been. Kimball romped through the rest of January on their way to a WTC title and berth in the subdistrict finals. Ken Smith and his squad then started the 2012-13 season 4-1.

The very next weekend after Pine Bluffs, Reader’s pressure-packed last second free throws propelled the Longhorns girls side to a stunning 33-31 victory at Sidney.

“’I was going to miss it’--that’s the only thing that was going through my head,” she admitted.

Before the month ended, Reader and the Longhorns had fashioned a winning streak that would eventually gain them a conference tournament title and send them to the subdistrict finals.

The WTC crown was their first since 2009, a convincing 50-42 affair over Mitchell.

After falling behind early on, the Longhorns rallied to forge a 19-2 run that started with Darbi Klinkhammer’s short jumper at the 6:11 mark in the first and continued into the second period. During the span--stretching over seven minutes, Shelby Vogel, Annie McCloud, Reader and Jessica Hanks also took their turn putting points on the board.

Klinkhammer led the team with 37 points over three games, including a 7 point spree at the end of regulation in the semi-finals, sending the contest into overtime.

“There’s a lot of tough games ahead,” head coach Ken Smith pointed out at the time. But, he conceded, “right now we’re playing our best basketball of the year.”

Of course, subdistricts--and state powerhouse Chadron loomed. After a season no one expected, after last second miracles, after 16 wins, a game finally escaped Kimball’s grasp. The emotion of a long schedule and a 66-25 runaway by Chadron in the subdistrict finals poured out following the lopsided encounter.

Klinkhammer, often described at the team’s heart and soul on the floor, could only shake her head.

“They’re good, they’re quick and they’re long,” she said of unbeaten Chadron.

Sophomore Kelly Green came off the bench to rally the Longhorns from an early 13-0 deficit and the game was within reach at half time. But the Cardinals bombarded Kimball, 44-7, in the second half.

“They have long arms,” Green said, also shaking her head.

The Potter-Dix girls fell to Leyton in subdistrict play despite 10 points apiece from Conner Wolff and Amanda Maas, closing out an 11-9 season under first year head coach Jeff Einspahr.

Banner County’s girls captured the MAC title game behind Jessica Bruce’s 23 point, 10 rebound double-double. Lindsey Soule often joined Bruce in the double digit department, making for a potent combo. The Wildcats finished at 14-8.

Bruce and Soule earned invitations to the Panhandle Prep All-Star game, joined by Tiffany LaBeau from Potter-Dix and Kimball’s McCloud.


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