3rd quarter surge propels the Cowgirls to win over Sidney

The Custer County District High School varsity girls’ basketball team returned to the hardwood Saturday and their signature defense kept the Sidney Lady Eagles grounded, resulting in a 67-45 Eastern A Conference win for the Cowgirls. 

The Cowgirls’ bench came through with four beyond-the-arc shots. Junior guard Makenzie Taylor dropped in three three-pointers and junior guard Makenna Helmts sank one. 

“It was nice to see the ball go down from the outside,” said Cowgirls’ head coach Aaron Essex. “It took a little pressure off our inside game.” 

Junior playmakers Bailee Murnion and Ashley Venable were held to four and five points respectively, but sophomore Kyra Oakland put down 16 and junior leading scorer Kaelei Koenig was true to form with 21. 

Five shots were tossed up and missed to start the game, but Sidney’s Madison Thiessen scored first with a bucket. Custer County senior guard Jenna Swope answered with a three-point shot, and the Cowgirls never looked back. 

Sidney added 21 points in the second quarter, but the Cowgirls’ offense kept the lead by as many as 14. They took a 34-27 lead into halftime before blowing the game wide open. 

Offense was key for the Cowgirls in the third quarter as they went on a 21-6 run for 23 total points against Sidney’s 10. Taylor netted two of her three three-pointers in the third quarter. 

The Cowgirls’ characteristic run-and-gun style of defense led to Oakland sinking 12 points off turnovers. The Cowgirls were all over Sidney’s offense with 17 steals, including a combined eight from Swope and Venable. 

“It was tough to run any offense, because they press you and hurry you up,” said Sidney head coach Ruben Moreno. “They dictated the tempo against us.” 

Sidney was able to break the Cowgirls’ full-court press in the first half and move the ball down the court where their forwards were left undefended and easy layups were tossed in. 

“We had a hard time remembering to get down on the back side,” said Essex, “but in the second half, we did a way better job and we shut them down.” Sidney managed just 18 points in the second half. 

Under the basket, the Cowgirls grabbed 47 rebounds, with 29 of those coming under their own net. Koenig was near double-double status with her 21 points and nine rebounds, as was Swope with nine points and a team-high 10 boards. 

“They get you to play fast fast fast, and that’s definitely to their advantage,” Moreno said. “We mixed it up a little, and we played hard, but they were the better team tonight.”

Sidney was led by Madison Thiessen with 12 points, and Maddison DiFonzo with 11. 

Junior Amanda Beard led the junior varsity Cowgirls to a 41-28 win over the JV Lady Eagles. Sophomores Channing Ellingson and Madi Rask each notched seven points, and Rask and Morgan Johnstone each snagged nine boards for a Cowgirl total of 43. 

McKenna Friend scored 16 points and Mackenzie Rask and Sydney Johnstone each added 14 as the Cowgirls’ freshman squad routed Sidney 61-24. Johnstone hit two three-pointers in the contest. 

The varsity Cowgirls improved to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Eastern A after the weekend at home. They return to the home court on Friday against Dawson County in a basketball double-header, with the Cowboys slated at 5:45 p.m. and the Cowgirls to follow at 7:30 p.m.