Heartbreak at Home


Maycee Quick, Staff Writer

Monday, February 18, the Sidney Red Raiders and Alliance Bulldogs played for a spot in the boys basketball sub district championship game. The Alliance Bulldogs were victorious over the Sidney Raiders with a final score of 76-45 which landed them a spot in the championship game.

Shortly following that game, the Scottsbluff Bearcats and Gering Bulldogs went head to head for the remaining spot in the championship. This game was a nail biter, and ended with a layup by the Bearcats that sealed the game. Scottsbluff won 51-50.

The next day, Tuesday, February 19, the Bulldogs and Bearcats competed for the sub district championship title. This game determined which team would be the sub district champion. Senior starter, Mason Hiemstra, said that this game was so important because it was their chance to prove how talented they were. He also said it was important because, “We haven’t won sub districts since probably 2008.”

The Bearcats and Bulldogs have been going back and forth since the beginning of the season. Their first game against Bluffs during the Western Conference ended with the Bearcats taking the win 54-36 at Cougar Palace, but that was only the beginning. During regular season play, the two teams played each other again, but this time, it was on Alliance’s home court. The Bulldogs were able to beat the Scottsbluff Bearcats 60-50, ending an eight year streak that was deemed unbreakable.

This record breaking game boosted the Bulldogs into 8th place on the Nebraska Boys Basketball Class B rankings. This accomplishment and their season record of 18-6 gave them home court advantage during sub districts, a couple of the most important games of the season. When asked how he felt about being able to play at home, Junior starter, Joel Baker, said, “Man, that was awesome. That was the biggest crowd I have ever seen at a game in Alliance since I’ve lived here. It was amazing to play. Sometimes when you’re playing you take for granted that type of environment, but that was amazing, and I’m so thankful for all the support we got.”

The Bulldogs basketball team has been practicing day in and day out, with intense practices and even scouting reports. Both Baker and Hiemstra say that they have been focusing on just playing the best they can. Hiemstra said there was no extra pressure since they were playing Bluffs: “because we’ve already beat them once at home this season, and to me, I don’t see them as anything but another team.”

At 6:30, the Bulldogs and Bearcats came onto the court, both striving for the same title. This game started heated, with the Bulldogs leading 19-16 at the end of the first quarter. This same energy continued throughout the game.The defense and offense remained fast paced and aggressive, and the Bearcats were winning by only one point, 33-34, by the end of the first half.

After the Scottsbluff Drill Team and the Alliance Cheerleaders performed during halftime, the rivalry came back onto the court for the second half. Both teams gave it their all. Fouls were called and shots were made. Bluffs led 42-37 at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth.

The crowd, band, and cheerleaders were roaring, and the boys played with the same energy. A close game between two rival teams would end with a heartbreak for the Alliance Bulldogs, losing 53-49.

Both Hiemstra and Baker believe that the team could have shot better, but of course, that’s just the game. The team went into the game positive and confident, and that’s all you can really ask for. Baker says, “We knew we were every bit as good as they were if not better… We loved our chances. Sometimes the shots just don’t fall.”

Alliance is set to play in the B-8 District Boys Final in Mount Michael Benedictine at a rescheduled time, Monday, February 25 at 4:45 CT. Baker and Hiemstra are both ready to play Monday. They see Mount Michael as a good matchup. Hiemstra says, “I feel really confident going against Mount Michael because we match up with their height pretty well, and that usually never happens for us.” Baker says, “And obviously, a trip to state is on the line, so I’m pretty excited about that too.” The team feels high hopes for this game that determines it all. If the Bulldogs are able to pull out a win, they will be heading to state. Baker expressed the whole meaning behind the game perfectly, “ I love our team and wouldn’t trade anybody on it for the world.”