Yuma girls have their work cut out
Yuma High School’s girls basketball team definitely will be a work in progress during the 2018-19 season.
“We’re still trying to find ourselves,” coach Bob Rahm said. “The chemistry isn’t there yet.”
The Indians are 0-1, losing the season opener 50-40 last Saturday in Wray, as they head to Kansas for the Topside Tipoff Tournament, today through Saturday in Goodland.
They open tourney play at 2 p.m. against the Norton Bluejays. Norton gave Yuma a good battle last year in the Topside quarterfinals, with the Indians going on to claim the tourney title. The Bluejays return nearly everyone from last year’s team. They opened their season last Friday with a 49-28 win at Oakley, Kansas.
The winner of today’s game will stay in Max Jones Field House for the 2 p.m. semifinal Friday against the winner of today’s game between Colby, Kansas, and McCook, Nebraska. Today’s losers will meet at 2 p.m. Friday in the adjoining junior high gym. Saturday’s potential game times are 11 a.m. for seventh place and fifth place, 1 p.m for third place, and the championship at 5 p.m.
“Our side of the bracket is really tough,” Rahm said. “That Norton team is really good. I think they return almost everybody.”
The Indians struggled in a fund-raising exhibition game Friday night in The Pit, losing to defending 1A champion Kit Carson. Yuma, the defending 2A champion, then opened its regular season Saturday against another tough opponent, rival Wray, which was ranked third in 2A in the preseason polls.
Yuma and Wray have flipped spots in the Top 10 this week, with Wray No. 1 and Yuma No. 3.
Yuma returns all-state players Cody Robinson and Chasey Blach, but the rest of the lineup is stepping into new varsity roles this season. Several freshmen saw varsity action Saturday.
“We need production from the bench,” Rahm said. “We’re needing to fast track a lot of young kids. There’s going to be growing pains.”
Saturday’s game was one of spurts in the early going
Wray led 5-2, but Yuma rallied behind Robinson for a 12-7 lead.
However, Wray went on a run at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second for a 17-12 lead. A 3-pointer by Robinson helped the Indians get back in front, and the teams were tied at 22 at halftime.
However, the key moment came seconds into the third quarter when Blach rolled the ankle she first injured during the volleyball season. She was lost for the game, paving the way for Wray all-stater Morgan Smith to get the Eagles rolling.
“Someone has to step in and fill those shoes,” Rahm said of losing Blach. “They’re gigantic shoes to fill but someone has to.”
Wray took a 26-22 lead, but rallied to tie it at 30 as junior Reagan Nolin started to find her range.
However, Wray’s Taby Jones hit two 3-pointers and the Eagles regained a 36-32 lead, which they never relinquished.
Yuma still was within striking distance heading into the fourth, trailing 38-34, but Wray scored the first four points in the stanza and Yuma was never able to seriously threaten down the stretch.
“We’re not doing the little things right,” Rahm said. “It’s everybody, not just a few players. There are a lot of things we need to shore up.”
Yuma shot just 27 percent from the floor, though the Indians did make eight of 12 from the charity stripe.
Robinson made all six of her free throws while finishing with 26 points. Blach was 0-for-5 from the floor when she was injured, finishing with two points and nine rebounds. Nolin had four points, Viri Escobar four, and Ema Richardson four.
“We might need to adapt to the players, play to their strengths,” Rahm said. “It might take us awhile to get it all figured out. It’s going to be a struggle, but it’s a long season.”