Yuma girls face challenging weekend

A challenging schedule is not getting any easier for the Yuma High School girls basketball team.

The Outlaws came through in decent shape last weekend, getting a win at Akron before battling valiantly in a home loss to undefeated Sidney, Nebraska, on Saturday.

They are 9-2 overall, and were No. 2 as of Friday in the Class 3A CHSAA Selection & Seeding Index.

Now they head to Wray on Friday for a showdown with the rival Eagles. Yuma blew a double-digit lead but hung on for a 52-51 win on December 2. Wray is 6-6 and No. 17 in the 2A Index. The Eagles dropped three of their first four after the Christmas break but since have won three straight by double digits.

“They’re starting to make shots,” Yuma coach Jeremy Robinson said of the Eagles, “and it’s Wray at Wray so it is going to be tough.”

The Outlaws turn around Saturday and make the trip to Peyton near Colorado Springs. The Panthers are No. 1 in the 3A Index, and are 10-0 heading into today’s home game against Fountain Valley before hosting the Outlaws. Yuma and Peyton have common opponents in Limon and Highland with both teams beating those two.

While Yuma has a balanced scoring attack, Peyton features senior AJ Mannering who is averaging 30.5 points per game.

“We need to control the Mannering girl,” Robinson said. “You make a mistake and she will make you pay.”

Yuma is making adjustments to being without senior Caddis Robinson for the time being as she is out with an injury.

“I think we’ll be all right,” Robinson said, “it’s just that we have the meat of our schedule here now.”

Yuma went to Akron last Friday, pulling out a 50-41 win. The Rams also have made adjustments after losing senior Addisyn Kessinger to injury.

The Outlaws closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run for a 13-7 lead. They led by as much as 12 points in the second quarter before settling for a 29-22 lead at halftime. The Outlaws continued to keep Akron at arm’s length in the second half, leading 35-26 after three quarters, and leading by as much as 11 in the final stanza.

Much of the game was spent at the free-throw line as the two teams combined for 49 fouls. Yuma made 20 of 32 free throws, while Akron made 14 of 26.

Alina Moran had nine points and six rebounds for Yuma, Emma Rayl nine points, three steals and two assists, Bailey Nighswonger seven points and five rebounds, Jailyn Mekelburg six points, Taryn Sheffield six points and seven rebounds, Carolina Ross five points, Ashley Ibanez four points and two assists, Jade Lungwitz three points, Berkley Nighswonger one point and three rebounds, and Aubrey Black one steal.

The Outlaws were home on Saturday to host the undefeated Sidney Red Raiders. Sidney has mostly had its way with Yuma in recent years, including pulling away in the second half for a big win last season.

It was not looking good again early last Saturday as Sidney raced out to a 20-8 lead.

However, the Outlaws defense tightened up after that as the Red Raiders scored 26 points over the final three quarter. The Outlaws were having trouble finding any offense, though, as they trailed 29-13 at halftime.

They kept battling at the defensive end but still trailed by as much as 19 points. The Outlaws finally found some offense in the fourth while continuing to clamp down defensively, going on an 11-2 run to get within six, 43-37 late in the game.

However, Yuma could not score again, and Sidney made enough at the charity stripe to escape with a 46-37 win. It was one closest margins of victory for the Red Raiders this season.

“I was super proud of them on Friday, and super proud of them in the second half on Saturday,” Robinson said. “I challenged them in the locker room (Saturday) and they did a good job of responding.”

Lungwitz had 10 points and four rebounds, Sheffield 10 points and three rebounds, Moran eight points and seven rebounds, Mekelburg four points and two rebounds, Berkley Nighswonger three points, Ibanez two points and three rebounds, while Rayl had five assists, four rebounds and two steals. Black had two steals. Ross went out early with an ankle injury.