By BRETT MARSHALL
SCOTT CITY — If there’s good news for the Scott City Beavers, it’s that they’ve made the transition from football to basketball and are 4-0 as they head into the Christmas break.
The Beavers, two-time defending Class 3A state champions, earned their fourth straight early-season victory with a less than exemplary 75-61 victory over the Ulysses Tigers in the Great West Activities Conference opener for both teams on Friday night at Scott City High School’s gym.
Taken into consideration that the Beavers were just a day shy of three weeks removed from their 3A state football title, the basketball version is slowly but surely rounding into form.
For Ulysses’ first-year coach Nathan Novack, it was a time to reflect on the positives that he could draw from the early season matchup with the No. 1-ranked 3A team in Kansas.
“We had some guys that really stepped up and made some outside shots tonight,” Novack said. “The first half turnovers really set us back and that really just beat ourselves at the start. But that’s what you get with Scott City. Their defense is something you don’t see too much of and it creates problems for you.”
Indeed, the Tigers were guilty of 10 first-quarter miscues, yet trailed only 18-13. They turned it over another seven times in the second quarter and were still within range of the Beavers, down by 10 at intermission.
“What we didn’t do a good job of tonight was shooting the ball,” Scott City coach Glenn O’Neil said. “We missed a bunch of close shots that we typically make. I imagine we left 10-15 points out on the floor with those missed shots.”
A trio of 3-pointers by the Tigers kept things close as Kyler Barlow nailed two of the treys and Alec Meierhoff another.
The third quarter, however, belonged to the Beavers and their high-powered offense. Senior Joey Meyer finally got on track after a slow start by scoring eight of his 12 points in the period. The Beavers had a 21-10 spree during the stretch to extend the lead to 57-36.
In the early going of the fourth quarter, Scott City had a 69-42 lead before O’Neil substituted. A late 19-6 run by the Tigers made the score seem closer than it actually was.
“I’ll take where we’re at, considering these kids haven’t had more than two days off since late July,” said O’Neil in reference to the long football season and the quick switch to basketball. “I sometimes am pretty hard on them, but they’ve done an awfully lot of good things, and they should be proud. We’re going to give them some time off and let them just be kids, and then get back to working on some individual and team things next week. They’re tired and they need to get their legs back.”
Had it not been for the Beavers’ ball-hawking defense, Scott City would have likely been in more trouble in the first half than it appeared when they took a 36-26 lead into the dressing room at intermission.
Ulysses had been forced into 17 first-half miscues to just two for Scott City.
But three 3-pointers kept the Tigers within shouting range as 5-10 junior Kyler Barlow nailed two treys and Levi Degallado added one.
Scott City, meanwhile, missed numerous close-in baskets in the opening 16 minutes of action, but seniors Drew Kite and Brett O’Neil kept the Beavers ahead by scoring 15 and 13 points in that stretch.
Barlow scored eight for the Tigers in the opening two periods, and sophomore Tregg Rodriguez added six.
The Beavers had their normal balanced offensive output behind Kite’s 19. Brett O’Neil had 14, Meyer 12 and Trey O’Neil 11. For Ulysses, Barlow led the way with 14, while Tregg Rodriguez followed with 13 and Annis’ 12 capped off the double-figure scoring.
Despite what he thought was an off-shooting night, O’Neil’s Beavers still were close to 50 percent shooting, hitting 29-of-61 for 47 percent. Ulysses was 24-of-55 (43.6 percent). The Tigers finished with 22 turnovers, taking much better care of the ball in the final half.
“We did a much better job on handling things,” Novack said. “We’ve shown a lot of improvement in the last week. Unfortunately, we ended up getting Scott on our next one. They’re just really good, and you’ve got to be at your best if you want to be in the game.”
Ulysses falls to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the GWAC while the Beavers, off until Jan. 4, are 4-0 and 1-0.
Ulysses 13 13 10 25 — 61
Scott City 18 18 21 18 — 75
Ulysses (61) — Stringham 4-6 0-2 8, Rodriguez 6-8 0-0 13, Barlow 5-15 0-0 14, Degollado 2-7 0-0 5, Meierhoff 1-6 0-0 2, Annis 5-8 0-0 12, Medina 1-5 2-4 4. Totals
Scott City (75) — B. O’Neil 4-12 6-7 14, Pounds 1-1 1-2 3, Wells 2-5 0-1 4, T. O’Neil 4-9 2-2 11, B. Meyer 1-1 0-0 3, Hess 0-3 0-0 0, Habiger 3-4 0-0 8, J. Meyer 6-10 0-0 12, Kite 8-14 3-5 19, Ratzlaff 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 29-61 12-19 75.
3-point goals—Ulysses 8-17 (Rodriguez 1-1, Barlow 4-8, Degollado 1-2, Meierhoff 0-1), Scott City 4-9 (T. O’Neil 1-1, B. Meyer 1-1, Hess 0-1, Habiger 2-3). Rebounds—Ulysses 37 (Annis 11), Scott City 32 (Kite 9). Fouls—Ulysses 17, Scott City 12.