(Written By Con Marshall)
The 12th annual Chadron Rotary—George Watson Holiday Classic will take place Thursday and Friday, Dec. 29 and 30 in the Chicoine Center at Chadron State College.
Teams from the same four schools that have participated the past five years will return. The first-round pairings on the upper side of the bracket have Custer playing Valentine with the girls’ game starting at 2 pm Tuesday, followed by the boys’ contest at about 4 p.m.
Chadron and Hemingford are on the lower side of the bracket. The girls’ game is set to begin at 5:30 with the boys to follow
Friday’s action is to begin at 10 am with the girls’ third-place game, followed by the boys’ consolation contest. The championship games are slated to begin at 1 pm with girls taking the court first.
Chadron won both titles last year, with the girls downing Valentine 44-22 and the boys winning 64-19 over Hemingford.
The Chadron girls are 2-4 and the boys 3-3 after both teams had their games slated for Dec. 16 and 17 postponed by the blizzard that left behind from two to three feet of snow in Dawes and Sheridan counties.
However, the Cardinals were able to host Torrington for a double-header on Tuesday, Dec. 20, even though the mercury was below zero.
Both Hemingford quintets were to play at Hay Springs on Dec. 13, but those games were postponed. However, the Bobcats were able to host Leyton on Saturday the 17th.
The Hemingford girls will come to the tournament with a 1-4 record. Their win was over Hyannis in season’s second game on Dec. 3. The losses have been to Gordon-Rushville, Bridgeport, Mitchell and Leyton. The LadyCats are led by seniors Avery Davies and Kambree Walker, both returning starters.
The Hemingford boys are seeking their first win after playing their counterparts from the same schools the girls’ have met. The Bobcats have three seniors—Caiden Hill, Rick Turek and Hunter Wyland—all of whom been regulars in lineup since they were sophomores.
The Valentine girls are off to one of their better starts in several years. They are 4-1 after having two games postponed. They have defeated O’Neill and Mullen by wide margins and slipped past Cozad 38-33 and West Holt 47-45. Their loss was to McCook 40-31.
The Badgers’ boys are 0-5 after playing the same schedule as the girls. The narrowest loss was by 16 points to Mullen.
The Custer girls are 3-1 and the boys are 2-2 after both played in the Lakota Nations Tournament in Rapid City two weeks ago.
The Lady Wildcats defeated Pine Ridge, Wall and Dupree in the tourney, but lost to White River. Ally Cass, a 5-9 senior, averaged 20 points in the tourney. Other stalwarts include senior Alice Sedlecek and Ally’s younger sister, Bailey, a 5-11 junior.
The Custer boys downed Cheyenne Eagle Butte and Todd County in the LNT but lost to Dakota Tech and Red Cloud. Fans may recall that during last year’s Rotary Tourney, Custer Coach Paul Kelly sometimes had three freshmen on the floor at the same time.
Although one of them, Kyle Virtue, scored just five points in the opening round versus the Cardinals, the next day he poured in 26 during the Wildcats’ 68-44 win over Valentine to decide third place. Now 6-4, Virtue tallied 84 points in the four games that opened the current season and also had double digit rebounds in a couple of them.
Point guard Rhett Lowe is another talented sophomore, reports indicate.
Admission to the classic will be $6 for adults and $5 for students and seniors.
Two other area teams also will be involved in tournaments Thursday and Friday. Crawford will be at Cambridge and Gordon-Rushville will be in the Cabela’s Tourney in Sidney. Mitchell also will play at Sidney.
In addition, Alliance will host Broken Bow, Adams Central from near Hastings and Boone Central at Albion the same dates.
The Cardinals’ first action in the New Year will be at Hot Springs on Tuesday, Jan.3. They’ll host Mitchell on Saturday the 7th.