Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Stephen McKay
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Peetz upends homestanding Potter-Dix


Stephen McKay - Sidney Sun Telegraph

Potter-Dix's Savannah Shaw, left, attempts to knock the ball away from a Peetz player on a fast break in last Tuesday's game, while Alexus Rozelle, right, also defends. The Lady Coyotes fell to Peetz, 41-40.

POTTER – When Jodi Schumacher of Peetz High School nailed a 3-pointer late in the final quarter last Tuesday night, a big smile suddenly overwhelmed her face.

Though Schumacher didn't have her best night shooting, she hit the two most significant shots of the game as the Lady Bulldogs turned back the Potter-Dix Lady Coyotes 41-40 in a cross-state thriller. The Coyotes lost for only the fourth time this season (14-4) while the Bulldogs evened their mark at 8-8.

When Schumacher's fourth-quarter trey dropped, she gave her team 38-36 lead with 3:30 left in the game. Though the Coyotes spent much of the game on the positive side of the scoreboard and led by as many as eight in the second quarter, the Bulldogs hung around long enough to make a late run.

"We didn't make our free throws late in the game when we needed to," said the Lady Coyotes' Anna McLaughlin. "That's something we work on every day in practice so I'm pretty surprised we were missing so much."

The Lady Coyotes missed five straight free throws after the Schumacher bomb and Audrey Juelfs fouled out with four minutes left, but still the Coyotes were in the game to the bitter end. By first converting on a well-delivered pass from Savannah Shaw and then returning an offensive rebound, Alexus Rozelle put Potter-Dix back in front at 40-39 with 38 seconds to go. But still Schumacher would have the final say after Bulldogs' coach Janelle Cass called a timeout with about a half minute left.

"I just wanted to remind them to be patient on the inbounds pass and not just throw it away," Cass said. "We've been on a bit of a down lately so it's nice to see us play so well tonight. This is a big boost to our confidence."

Mallori Bjerke was charged with getting the ball inbounds under the Bulldogs' offensive basket. Before long Bjerke found an open Schumacher underneath and gave her a quick chest pass. The ensuing layup was the final basket of the night.

"I wasn't looking for anybody in particular," said Bjerke of her game winning assist. "I was just trying to be patient like coach said and I saw Jodi get open under the basket."

As for Schumacher, she usually has different responsibilities on the inbounds pass.

"I usually set the screen on that play but no one was even there," Schumacher said. "It was nice that it ended so well because I wasn't shooting very well early in the game."

Well before the game's dramatic conclusion, McLaughlin opened the scoring just 20 seconds in. Though Peetz led briefly at 4-2, Juelfs shook the nylon from downtown to put the Coyotes ahead for the rest of the first half. A four-point run by Rozelle put Potter-Dix up by five points, but the 'Dogs narrowed the gap to a field goal by the end of the first eight minutes at 12-10.

"We have a lot of girls on this team that just like to hustle and get to loose balls and rebounds," said Mikenna Curlee. "That's part of what makes it so much fun to be on this team."

Though Jennifer Gutierrez brought Peetz to within a point early in the second frame, the Coyotes responded with a 7-0 run on contributions from Juelfs, Shaw and Dawson Sharman. By the end of the Coyotes' burst, they held their biggest lead of the game at 21-13. Schumacher's first three of the night helped the Bulldogs narrow the margin to five at the break 24-19.

"In the second half they outplayed us," said Lady Coyotes' head coach Jeff Einspahr. "They beat us on the boards and they out hustled us. I give credit to them. They played hard, but we have to play smarter than we did tonight. Maybe this will be a wakeup call."

Stephen McKay - Sidney Sun Telegraph

Potter-Dix's Trinity Langley, left, battles a Peetz player for positioning in last Tuesday's game.

The Lady Bulldogs signaled their intentions by opening up the second half on an 8-2 run with offensive help from Mikenna Curlee, Schumacher and Sharman. Sharman dropped in the final bucket for Potter-Dix to give her team a 32-30 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.

"We knew some of their stats but not much about how they played," said Peetz's Payton Swedlund. "So we just focused on reading a chapter of 'Mind Game' on the bus ride over."

Schumacher finished the night with a game-high 13 points while Swedlund and Jennifer Gutierrez dropped in seven apiece for Peetz. Curlee had six points. Bjerke led the rebounders with 10 with Whitney Christian pulling down seven and Curlee six. Rozelle scored a dozen to pace the Lady Coyotes while Juelfs added nine, McLaughlin eight and Sharman seven.


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