STURGIS, SD – The Sturgis Scooper boys basketball team sprinted out to a 13-point halftime lead and never looked back on their way to a 61-52 victory over the Custer Wildcats at West Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
The Scoopers got their first win with stellar defense and rebounding, forcing 19 Wildcat turnovers throughout the game.
“We want to run in transition but in order to do that, you have to defend and rebound,” said Sturgis boys head coach Dan Skinner. “So that was kind of our mentality switch coming into this game. Let’s make sure, for 32 minutes long, we’re doing all the little things on the defensive end and on the glass. That all adds up on the scoreboard at the end of the game, so that was our goal for tonight.”
Sturgis came out firing offensively and led Custer 14-5 after one quarter and 30-17 at the half, led by Ty Petrocco’s eight points. The Scooper defense frustrated the Custer offense, forcing 13 turnovers in the first half with man-to-man, pressure defense. Sturgis outscored Custer 15-14 in the third quarter to extend their lead and held on as the Wildcats mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter to earn the victory.
The Scoopers have been close in every game this season, holding leads throughout the games, but dropping their first three games by an average of just over eight points. Skinner was looking for the right strategy to get his team in the win column and he found it on Tuesday night.
“That’s kind of been the story all year long,” said Skinner. “We have the lead but we’re not able to hold that lead. We get tired and stop doing those little things that you need to do to come out victorious in those basketball games. We’ve been preaching that to the boys after those games and our guys have stepped up to that challenge. They’ve now bought into that every possession matters mentality and that’s why we were able to come out here and close this one out in our home opener today.”
Petrocco finished the night with 19 points and seven rebounds for the Scoopers. Teigen Wormstadt chipped in 12 points. Sturgis shot 33% from the field and 65% from the free throw line, committing 16 turnovers and snaring 36 rebounds. The Scoopers improved to 1-3 on the season.
Kyle Virtue scored 21 points and grabbed six rebounds for Custer. Kincade Lehmen added 12 points for the Wildcats. Custer shot 42% from the field and 57% from the charity stripe. The Wildcats had 19 turnovers and 22 rebounds, just two on the offensive end, and fell to 5-2 on the year.
In the girls contest, Custer used full-court defensive pressure and timely scoring to take a 24-16 halftime lead over Sturgis, behind Kylee Ellerton’s 10 points. The Scoopers could never get closer than six points during the rest of the game and lost to the Wildcats, 51-44.
Tori Williams led Sturgis with three 3’s and 13 points. Sophomore forward Addy Kossler made six of nine shots from the field, dropping in 12 points. Freshman Leigha Long added six points and six rebounds. The Scoopers shot 22% from the field and 50% from the free throw line for the game. Sturgis had 20 turnovers and 28 rebounds, 14 of them offensive.
Custer had a balanced scoring attack as Ellerton finished with 16, Jordyn Larson scored 13 and Maya Tennyson added 12. Custer shot 43% from the field, 47% from the free throw line, had 30 turnovers and 25 rebounds. Custer improves to 4-3 on the season and Sturgis falls to 1-3.
The Scooper boys and girls are in action next on Tuesday, Jan. 9 as they visit Rapid City Christian High School.