Western Conference Champions:
Mitchell girls go 3-0, beat Chadron, Alliance and Sidney
By The Voice News - December 6, 2017
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Courtesy of Mitchell Public Schools
The Mitchell girls basketball team poses for a photo after winning the Western Conference Tournament to begin the 2017-18 season.
SCOTTSBLUFF – The Mitchell girls basketball team has accomplished a lot during the last few seasons, including a trip to the state tournament last season.
However, one thing that had eluded the Lady Tigers was a Western Conference Tournament title.
Mitchell can now cross that off after defeating Sidney 53-31 on Saturday at Western Nebraska Community College.
“This is my only Western Conference Tournament championship that I have won for either basketball or volleyball, so I am really, really happy that we came out with the win,” said Mitchell senior Jori Peters. “I think we played really well. We wanted to come out and make a statement, and I think we accomplished that.”
The tournament marked the beginning of Tory Schwartz’s tenure at the helm of the Mitchell girls basketball program.
Schwartz’s daughter, Victoria also came over from Gering. His father Steve Schwartz, will serve as an assistant, “It is a special situation for both of us I hope,” Coach Schwartz said. “It’s a neat deal for her to finish her senior year playing for me. I know I love coaching her.”
Schwartz replaced Brock Ehler, who resigned last year after guiding the Lady Tigers to a 43-9 record and two state tournament trips in his two years in Mitchell.
“We want to build on what they’ve done and want to keep the winning tradition alive at Mitchell,” said Schwartz, who used to officiate with Ehler in the past. “We have a similar philosophy and we will still play uptemp, ful court pressure. There are a few things we’ve tweaked as a new coaching staff.”
Many of the Mitchell girls are familiar to Schwartz, who has run the Hickory Huskers club basketball program for 18 years.
“I’ve had Jori, Victoria, Keyana [Wilfred], Belle [Gillen] and Ricci [Ayala],” Schwartz said.
The Lady Tigers looked comfortable with their new coach and each other at the Western Conference Tournament.
In the championship game, against Sidney, the Lady Tigers (3-0) raced out to a 16-1 lead to begin the contest and led 23-3 after the first eight minutes of play.
“We played very aggressive. We played full-court defense for almost the entire game,” Victoria Schwartz said. “We got tired, but it worked out. Defense comes down to a lot of hard work and all those girls get down and dirty no matter what. That is what works for us.”
The pace slowed a bit in the second quarter with Mitchell outscoring Sidney 10-9 to lead 33-12 at halftime. Kenzey Kanno and Annabelle Gillen each made three-pointers in the second quarter.
Mitchell extended its lead to 43-17 after three quarters before Sidney won the fourth quarter 14-10.
Scoring leaders were Kanno with 16 points, including three three-pointers. Wilfred with 14, Gillen with nine, including two three-pointers, Peters with eight and Schwartz with six.
In the semifinals, Mitchell defeated Alliance 65-41. The Lady Tigers jumped out to a 9-0 lead and didn’t look back.
The Lady Tigers were led by Wilfred with 27 points, Kanno with 12, Peters with 10, Gillen with six and Schwartz and Bethany Sterkel with five each.
“There is still plenty to work on,” Coach Schwartz said. “We are working for a bigger goal just like all the teams here. But I was pleased. The attitude and effort was great. We did have a couple missed assignments here and there, but I liked what we did offensively. We played to our strengths, which is Keyana. I saw some pretty good things.”
In the opening round last Thursday, Mitchell defeated Chadron 60-19.
Wilfred again led with 23 points, Peters added 15, Gillen, Kanno,Jessica Cotant all scored six and Schwartz and Ricci Ayala each contributed two points.
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