Yuma girls on a run as rival comes visiting

Yuma High School’s girls basketball players are working hard during their shifts.
Borrowing from hockey’s practice of line shifts every 90 seconds or so, the Yuma girls keep running out waves of players.
“They must like the hockey line changes,” head coach Jeremy Robinson said. “We preach to them about going as hard as they can for 90 seconds, then they’ll get a rest…As hard as we play, we keep that up constantly, it’s got to wear on the other team’s legs.”

It has worked to the tune of a seven-game winning streak, including a hard-fought, come-from-behind 49-41 win over Class 2A No. 2 Akron, last Friday in The Pit.
Yuma now is 7-2 overall, 3-0 in the Lower Platte. The former Indians entered this week No. 3 in the Class 3A Rating Percentage Index, then dropped to No. 5 on Tuesday. They moved up to No. 7 in the 3A Top 10 poll.
Robinson and his staff do not keep up the hockey-line change throughout the whole game, tightening the rotation in the fourth quarter, at which point the other team’s main players are starting to wear down, paying off with some big wins in recent weeks.
It has been the one constant in a season that has constantly been in flux.
Yuma basketball now has had seven reschedules. Last Saturday’s game at a tough Sidney, Nebraska squad was reset to Wednesday, February 1, due to concerns about travel conditions after the game. This Saturday’s upcoming home game against Peyton, undefeated and No. 2 in 3A, has been reset to February 15. That is due to a funeral being held Saturday for a Peyton staff member that recently passed away.
“I’ve never been involved in so much rescheduling in my life,” Robinson said, “but it is what is.”
Yuma still has Friday’s big showdown in The Pit against Yuma County-rival Wray. The Eagles rolled past Yuma in the season opener last month in the Eagles’ Nest, and has been solid all season long. They are 7-4, ranked No. 4 in the 2A RPI and No. 4 in the 2A Top 10.
Friday’s game has all the makings of another classic Yuma County Showdown between the long-time rivals.
“Wray is playing better, too,” Robinson said, “but we did not play well at all in that first game. We are better now at keeping people fresh. I guess we’ll just keep going with it.”
It certainly worked in last Friday’s low-scoring, but exciting, win over a tough Akron bunch.
Yuma has experienced some slow starts offensively during its seven-game winning streak, including last Friday. However, the players and coaching staff never waver from the plan, hanging their hat on tough defense and constant aggression.
Brush transfer Kinsey Grauer went off for 22 points for Akron, but Yuma defenders kept 2A leading scorer Addi Kessinger in check. She scored well below her average with 13 points, and eight of those came at the free-throw line.
“They did a superb job on Kessinger,” Robinson said. “To hold her to 13 is a definite win.”
Early on, the shooting was as cold as the weather outside as the teams were tied 5-5 at the end of the first quarter.
Yuma took an 11-10 lead on Lea Richardson’s steal and layup, and again 13-12 on Jailyn Mekelburg’s basket. However, Akron closed the second with a 6-0 spurt for an 18-13 halftime lead.
The teams were tied at 20 and 22 in the third, but the Rams again did just enough down the stretch to build a 29-26 lead.
However, it was all Yuma in the fourth.
Caddis Robinson opened the quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, sparking a 15-2 run for a 41-31 lead. Yuma then sealed the game at the charity stripe, holding on despite late 3-pointers from Kessinger and Grauer.
Yuma was a bit sloppy with the ball, committing 26 turnovers, but made up for it with great team defense and pulling down 35 rebounds, including 14 on the offensive glass. The formers Indians came up with 12 steals and dished out 13 assists.
Robinson had 14 points and eight rebounds, Richardson 12 points, seven steals and five assists, Emma Rayl eight points, five assists and four rebounds, J. Mekelburg six points and seven rebounds, Liddy Day three points and four rebounds, Lyndsey Mekelburg two points and one steal, Ashley Ibanez two points and one rebound, Jade Lungwitz two points and four rebounds, Alina Moran three rebounds, and Carolina Ross one rebound and one assist. Ibanez, who left in the second half with an ankle injury, and L. Mekelburg were tasked with being the primary defenders against Kessinger.