Bulldogs Cruise Past Oelrichs, Hold Off Bridgeport
By JOHN E. WEARE
Two contrasting wins closed out 2018 for Alliance. The Bulldog varsity boys team owned the court Friday, downing Oelrichs, S.D., 96-27. On Saturday, a double-digit lead in the first half over Bridgeport became a close contest down the stretch. AHS fended off the visiting Bulldogs to secure the victory, 55-47.
Alliance continued its momentum from Friday in the first eight minutes of the second home game. AHS tallied 18 points in the first quarter while putting a lid on the basket, only allowing the visitors three. Bridgeport picked up steam in the next frame though Alliance still held a 19-14 advantage in the second. Still down 37-17 at halftime, the B-Dogs chipped into the lead with a 6-2 run to open the third, outscoring AHS 14-11 for the quarter. Alliance kept the visitors at bay late, not letting them climb out of an early hole while preserving the win.
BHS 3 14 14 16 - 47
AHS 18 19 11 7 - 55
“It really started late in the second quarter,” AHS Head Coach Michael Baker said afterwards. Bridgeport scored on their last four possessions before the half. “It continued in the third quarter, we kind of lost our edge. We played so well for a quarter and a half and then we didn’t execute defensively and that affected our offense. Once Bridgeport makes a few shots then they’re feeling better on defense.”
Whistles sounded often with both teams called for fouls. The tallest player in the AHS lineup, Bradyn Palmer at 6’4”, committed his fourth early in the third. Teammate Reece Jensen had three fouls in the first half though avoider any trouble in the second. Baker said two of his back-up post players were out due to injuries. “We had lineups out there we usually don’t play with, so I’m pleased that our guys kept their heads about them enough to find a way to win that game because it easily could have fallen completely apart.”
The game seemed closer than Alliance’s 48-31 lead to start the fourth. Each team picked the other’s pocket. Then AHS set up, passing around the arc. Senior Mason Hiemstra’s jumper would not fall. Palmer snagged the rebound and was unsuccessful on the put back, called for his fifth foul underneath. Bridgeport had the ball back and hit a long trey. Hiemstra was called for the charge. The visitors scored two more from downtown and AHS called timeout with 5:15 to play, ahead 48-40.
Alliance held the line, keeping an eight-point advantage the rest of the way. Bridgeport called time at 3:17, behind 50-44. Hiemstra stole the ball and scored. On the other end the visitors missed twice with contention on the second rebound resulting in a foul and a point on the second foul shot. Corbin Stark went to the line for AHS sinking two points on a 1-1 with just under two minutes to play.
A full-court press and solid defense limited the B-Dogs to one more bucket. Alliance ate clock and garnered their final point from Stark at the charity stripe with Bridgeport unable to answer before the final buzzer.
“We did some things out of character,” Baker said. “We were getting a little wild … our defense was really good for almost two full quarters … I can’t put my finger on it we just didn’t, maybe too impatient. … we got to adjust a little better.”
The night before, Alliance lit up the scoreboard and controlled the boards preventing the Tigers from having many second looks on offense.
Hiemstra stole the ball going coast-to-coast for the first points of the night. A couple more fast breaks by the Bulldogs and two from behind the arc by Oelrichs knotted the teams at 6-6 with 6:22 to play in the first. AHS continued to attack inside on a 12-0 run.
Alliance kept up the tempo ahead 33-10 after the first eight minutes. The home-team defense allowed just five points in the next quarter while scoring 24. Ahead 57-15 going into the locker room the Bulldogs never let up. The only uncertainty late was whether the Bulldogs would hit the century mark.
OHS 10 5 9 3 - 27
AHS 33 24 22 17 - 96
“We took the game over right from the start,” Baker said. “Our defense overwhelmed them. We thought we could really pressure the ball and get a lot of things going and we did. That was really the key to that, we got a lot of people involved.”
Over the rest of the break the Bulldogs practiced Monday and today in preparation for three games at Cheyenne, Wyo., this weekend against Class 4A opponents. Class A in Nebraska Baker explained. “It’s going to be a good change of pace and a good test for us to see some bigger, stronger athletes. … I think we’ll match up well. We just have to put this (Bridgeport game) in our rearview mirror and learn from it certainly as we made enough plays to win. We can’t make those same mistakes.”