Tigers snap skid vs Hornets

Lisa Shaw/for the Lusk Herald Cory Bruegger takes aim against the Hornets during the January 26 home game against Pine Bluffs.

LUSK – Niobrara County High School held off an upset bid from the visiting Pine Bluffs Hornets last Friday night at Tiger Gym. The two-time defending 2A state champs are rebuilding, and a 22 game winning streak against the Tigers came to a dramatic end. The last time NCHS defeated Pine Bluffs was during the 2013-14 season when Hunter Dockery and Matthew VandeBossche were seniors. A 6’7” kid named Hunter Thompson was a freshman for the Hornets.

NCHS trailed 7-5 when Cory Bruegger converted a rare four point play, and Ridge Kupke sank a triple to give Lusk a narrow 14-11 first period lead. While the visitors made some nice plays to remain close, the Tigers were not scoring at their usual torrid pace. As halftime approached, NCHS had put up only 20 points to the Hornets 13.

Turnovers dominated the third period for both squads combining for ten. Bruegger’s layup and following free throw pushed the edge to a dozen but PB closed it to 31-21 entering the final frame.

The Hornets trimmed the gap as Lusk’s shooting woes continued, and taking the 37-36 lead with three minutes to play. Corbin Matthews buried a trey to regain the Tiger lead, but the visitors tied it at 39. A frantic series found the ball in Jackson Smith’s hands and his short bucket and free throw was enough for the Tigers to shake a huge monkey off their backs in the 42-39 victory.

The junior varsity also held off an upset-minded Hornet squad in the 47-41 win. Raynce Brott led the Tigers with 18 points while Brady Swisher added 14.

Friday’s rematch against Lingle-Fort Laramie at Tiger Gym begins at 7 p.m. The C squad will face the Sioux County JV at 3 p.m. before the girls’ varsity game at 5:30. The Tigers head to Guernsey Monday night.

SCORE BY QUARTER

PBHS 11-2-8-18--39

NCHS 14-6-11-11--42

TEAM STATS

PBHS: 14/28 FG; 2/14 3PT; 5-9 FT; 34 REB; 9 AST; 3 STL; 23 TO; 16 PF

NCHS: 13/41 FG; 3/23 3PT; 7/11 FT; 33 REB; 10 AST; 13 STL; 11 TO; 12 PF

NCHS PLAYER STATS: Scoring- Bruegger 15, Mattheus 8, Matthews 7, Smith 5, Kupke 5, Brott 2. Rebounds- Bruegger 9. Assists- Smith 5. Steals- Bruegger 5.