Yuma girls look to avenge loss, take LPAA lead
It would appear the Yuma High School girls basketball team is starting to find its rhythm.
However, the true test will come this weekend, and in the following weeks.
The Indians sit at 5-2 overall, and 1-0 in Lower Platte Activities Association play, after rolling to a 74-20 win over Akron, last Friday in The Pit in the first game back from Christmas break.
It was the Tribe’s fifth straight win. They have moved up to No. 4 in the Class 2A Top 10 (CHSAANow.com polls), bur remain No. 11 in the Rating Percentage Index.
“We needed a game like that,” coach Bob Rahm said of the first win in 2019. “Our December was hard and difficult.”
The difficulty returns immediately as the Indians face a major showdown Friday night in The Pit.
Yuma County-rival Wray comes to town for a critical game early in the league season. Wray is ranked No. 1 in 2A Top 10, and No. 3 in the RPI, with a 7-1 record after returning from the Christmas break with a nonleague win over Burlington this past Tuesday.
Friday’s game will be the first LPAA game of the season for the Eagles.
“A big part of the league race is this game on Friday,” Rahm said. “If you win, you’re in a good place. If you lose, you’re going to need some help.”
The ancient rivals met each other in the season opener in Wray, with the Eagles claiming a 50-40 nonleague win. The game was tied in the first minute of the second half when Yuma senior 6-foot all-stater Chasey Blach left with an ankle injury. She also missed the next two-and-a-half games before returning to the court.
“We need to do a little better job guarding; we gave up 50 points down there,” Rahm said. “We didn’t play as well on defense as we should have. We can’t let them get free down the court. We need to force them into the halfcourt.”
Besides being a big rivalry game, Friday night also feature the unveiling of the 2018 championship banners for the girls and boys teams, honoring the double 2A titles won last March. Many of the graduated players from both teams are expected to be back for the ceremony.
“Hopefully we can get good crowds, and good games for both the boys and girls,” Rahm said.
Yuma, Haxtun, and Merino all are 1-0 early in the league season. Holyoke, 4-2 overall, hosts Haxtun, 7-1, Friday night in another major cross-county rivalry game. Wiggins, 4-5, hosts Sedgwick County, 1-5 and 0-1, and Caliche, 3-5 and 0-1, hosts Akron, 2-7 and 0-1.
Yuma is back in action Saturday when it goes to Burlington for a nonleague game. The Cougars are 1-5 after the loss to Wray this past Tuesday.
The Indians returned last Friday from the Christmas break ready to roll.
They unveiled a full-court press for the first time this season, racing out to a 14-4 lead in the opening minutes. Yuma led 25-9 by the end of the first quarter, and 45-15 at halftime as Rahm emptied the bench early.
“We didn’t have the depth yet,” Rahm said of waiting on the full-court press until last Friday. “We’re developing it. The girls are coming around and understanding what we want to do.”
The Indians continued to roll in the second half, eventually winning by 54. They had 15 steals, pulled down 37 rebounds and committed just 11 turnovers. They made 30 of 51 two-point attempts and five of six free throws, though they were only three-for-10 behind the 3-point arc.
Cody Robinson and Blach each had 22 points. Robinson added 10 rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Blach had eight rebounds, two steals and two assists. Viri Escobar added 10 points, five assists, four steals and three rebounds, Reagan Nolin nine points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals, Ema Richardson seven points, Elle Roth two points and seven rebounds, Sam Wells two points and two rebounds, Trinity Law two assists and two steals, Lisa Bustillos two rebounds and Lucy Day two rebounds.
“We played a lot better than I expected coming off Christmas break,” Rahm said.