Anyone paying attention knew this would be a tough stretch for the Yuma High School girls basketball team.
The Outlaws had a chance to reverse the tide when they hosted Wiggins Thursday, February 1, in a Lower Platte game before taking another long road trip Saturday to Strasburg. However, they once again could not hold a lead in the fourth, losing 47-41 to the Tigers.
Yuma has dropped four straight, including a painful 37-34 decision at rival Wray last Friday, to sit at 9-5 overall. The Outlaws dropped a bit to No. 4 in the Class 3A CHSAA Selection & Seeding Index.
“We just have to keep plugging away,” coach Jeremy Robinson said. “We’re going to work on things we’re not good at and keep trying to improve.”
The Outlaws have been stuck scoring in the 30s over the past several games. They have been without senior Caddis Robinson, who is sidelined with an injury, but coach Robinson noted she was averaging around 10 points per game before going out, so it seemed the rest of the Outlaws could cover her absence.
“For the amount of shooting we do in practice, I don’t understand how much we struggle from the floor,” he said. “We’ll try to figure it out this week.”
Wiggins has had even more struggles, sitting at 6-7 and No. 16 in the 2A Index. However, Robinson warned the Tigers have size and will be difficult to beat if the Outlaws continue their current trend, which ended up being true.
At least the Outlaws will get Friday off from game action before heading to Strasburg for a late Saturday afternoon tipoff. The still-Indians entered this week 10-4 and No. 8 in the 3A Index.
“They struggled early but now are coming along,” Robinson said. “That’s going to be a tough road test for us. We’ll have to be ready.”
Wray also has struggled at times this season, but had turned it around with three straight wins entering last Friday’s rivalry game in the Eagles Nest. (Wray lost at Dayspring Christian on Saturday after winning its fourth straight against Yuma.)
As expected, it was a battle from start to finish last Friday. Wray claimed the lead by the end of the first quarter, Yuma regained it early in the second, and the teams were tied at 18 at halftime.
The Outlaws then had a strong third quarter, building a 31-26 lead.
However, they could manage only three points in the fourth. Wray finally took a 35-34 lead with under 1 minute left, then made it 37-34 with 34 seconds to go.
Yuma committed a turnover in-bounding the ball, but still had life as Wray missed two free throws with 11 seconds left. The Outlaws inbounded from the sideline in front of their bench with seven seconds left, but could not get off a clean shot for the tie to force overtime, leaving the Eagles Nest with a painful three-point loss.
“Wray is Wray and we knew it was going to be a good game,” Robinson said. “We didn’t do what we needed to do and it bit us in the butt.”
Freshman Taryn Sheffield did what she could, making three 3-pointers while finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals, while Alina Moran had 11 points and nine rebounds, Jade Lungwitz four points three rebounds and two steals, Ashley Ibanez three points and two rebounds, Emma Rayl two points and four rebounds, Bailey Nighswonger two points and three rebounds, and Jailyn Mekelburg two rebounds.
Yuma then had to turn around and get on the bus early Saturday morning for the long trip to Peyton to take on the Class 3A No. 1 Panthers.
“It was just a hard week,” Robinson said. “You can’t focus on just one team. It doesn’t give you much of a chance to game plan in practice.”
Still, the Outlaws were up for it early on as they gave Peyton – coached by former Yuma boys coach Brian Greene – all they could handle in the first half. They scored last five points of the first quarter for a 12-6, and led by as much as seven in the second before settling for a 19-18 halftime lead.
However, the inability to generate consistent offense and Peyton’s aggressive play eventually wore down the Outlaws. The Panthers opened the third on a 12-3 run, and led 33-26 at the end of the third. Yuma never could get closer than five the rest of the way, and Peyton made a bunch of free throws to pull away to a 51-36 win.
In fact, the Panthers scored nearly half of their points at the charity stripe, making 25 of 29, while Yuma made nine of 16. Peyton’s Abbie Nickell scored all 17 of her points on free throws. Class 3A leading scorer AJ Mannering finished with 28 though the Outlaws played great defense against her for the most part. Only three Peyton players scored.
Yuma stats were not available.