Yuma girls have their work cut out

Yuma High School’s girls basketball team now definitely has its work cut out.
The Indians are 1-1 in the Lower Platte Activities Association after last Friday’s rugged 47-40 loss at Akron. They improved to 6-4 overall with an exciting 54-51 non-league win over Burlington, Saturday afternoon in The Pit.

However, the league loss at Akron, 1-1 in league play and 5-3 overall, looms large as the Indians now travel to Wray on Friday for a major league showdown.
“Now we’re going to have to pick up some big wins in other people’s houses,” head coach Jeremy Robinson said.
Yuma remained in the Class 2A Top 10 this week at No. 10, dropping last week from No. 8, and is No. 15 in the 2A Rating Percentage Index.
Wray is just 5-5 after starting the season 2-0, but is ranked No. 8 in the Top 10. The Eagles are No. 19 in the RPI. They are 1-1 in league play after last Friday’s 56-46 loss at No. 4 Holyoke. The Dragons are 9-1 overall and 1-0 in the LPAA. They are at Haxtun on Friday for the Phillips County Showdown, and have a huge non-conference game Saturday at No. 2 Limon.
Yuma lost at home in early December to Wray, 63-49, but showed promise after falling behind by 17 in the first half. However, a relatively-young Indians squad needs to keep growing up in a hurry to stay in the league chase, and secure the best seeding possible for the postseason.
“It’ll be the same as always with Wray,” Robinson said, “they’re going to press us and push the tempo.”
However, he noted the Indians have done particularly well in handling other team’s pressing defense. “I’ve been super proud of these girls handling the pressure,” he said.
Yuma will have challenge on its hands when it returns home to The Pit for a Saturday matinee against the Sidney Red Raiders. Sidney entered this week 13-2, and have easily handled the Indians in their recent encounters over the past few years.
“It is a big weekend for us,” Robinson said. “We have some work to do.”
For instance, locating the other team’s best player, such as in last Friday’s loss at Akron.
Sophomore Addisyn Kessinger, 6-foot-0 and plenty strong and skilled, torched the Indians for 32 points, often being left unscathed on cuts to the baskets for uncontested layups. Yuma also had trouble doing anything against Akron’s 2-3 zone, shooting just 27 percent, including 25 percent on 2-pointers (eight for 31).
“Some of that is on me, we should have got out of the press and just tried to grind out a win,” Robinson said.
Yuma took a 12-11 lead early in the second quarter, but Kessinger scored six points, while Yuma could not get anything to fall, as the Indians trailed 19-14 at halftime. Kessinger scored all but two of Akron’s points in the third as the Rams built a 35-21 lead.
The Indians tried to rally in the fourth, pulling to within six, 43-37, on Ashley Ibanez’s old-school three-point play, but it was as close as the Indians could get.
Lea Richardson had 11 points, Sam Wells nine points and six rebounds, Meidi Reyes eight points, Caddis Robinson six points and three rebounds, Ibanez four points and five rebounds, and Jade Lungwitz two points and three rebounds.
“Akron, they’re a good, solid team. You have to credit them,” Robinson said. “But we just didn’t get off the bus.”
Yuma was back home in The Pit, Saturday afternoon, for a non-league game against Burlington. The Cougars came to town with just one win, but barely lost to Wray earlier in the week and boasts another talented sophomore in Trinitee Holmes, as well as freshman Kiyarra Williams.
The duo combined for 40 points, but it was Yuma, with a somewhat depleted lineup due to injury and illness, that came out on top with an exciting 54-51 win.
“To see them bounce back like they did, that was awesome,” Robinson said. “We were down some players, but everyone stepped up and responded.”
It definitely did not come easy.
It seemed like it might be as the Tribe built a 21-13 lead midway through the second quarter. However, behind 13 combined points by Holmes and Williams, the Cougars got back to within 28-25 by halftime.
Burlington took a 36-34 lead late in the third, but a bucket by Lea Richardson and a 3-pointer from Meidi Reyes returned the lead to Yuma entering the fourth.
The Indians missed several shots early in the fourth as Burlington took a 42-39 lead, but Yuma responded with a 6-0 run for a 45-42 lead.
Back came Burlington with seven straight points from the Burlington duo, but Yuma senior Sam Wells responded with four straight points, the second off a nice feed from Richardson, who then made two at the charity stripe for a 51-49 Yuma lead with 1 minute, 39 seconds left.
Holmes made a free throw to cut Yuma’s lead to one.
However, Reyes drained a long-distance 3-pointer, which had everyone groaning until it swished through the bottom of the net, for a 54-50 lead with 40 seconds left.
Burlington made one free throw with 19 seconds left, but then failed to foul a Yuma player until 0.1 of a second remained, securing the three-point win for the Indians.
Yuma again did not shoot well, hitting 29 percent of 61 shots, including 26 percent on 2-pointers, and made 13 of 23 free throws. Richardson had 13 points and five rebounds, Wells 11 points and four rebounds, Reyes nine points and two assists, Robinson eight points and seven rebounds, Hailey Eyring five points and three rebounds, Jailyn Mekelburg four points and four rebounds, and Lungwitz two points and three rebounds.