With the dawning of the new week, the District 10 Tournament began its three-day run at the Underwood High School gym. The top two seeds -- Underwood and Wilton-Wing – both watched the first round from the bleachers with byes for the first day while the other four teams kicked off the action on Monday night. The opening match of the tournament was between the fifth seeded Washburn Cardinals and the fourth seeded Center-Stanton Wildcats. From the start it was apparent that the Wildcats came ready to put their best foot forward in the post-season. While the Cardinals also started off with some drive, it had completely evaporated by the end of the match after the team had trouble settling into a rhythm. Both teams started off with some high intensity play, which kept the scores even until late in the first set when the Wildcats stepped up their game to pull ahead 25-20. After breaking that barrier, Center-Stanton was in complete control of the tempo for the remainder of the match. Aces by Siam Simpenderfer rocketed the Wildcats to a quick 8-1 lead in the second and it was easy sailing from there to 25-15.
The Center-Stanton Wildcats started their week with a 3-1 (25-20, 18-25, 15-25, 19-25) over Glen Ullin. After dropping the first set the Wildcats took the next three sets, led by a great hitting performance from Tristen Henke. Henke went 23-of-36 for a .638 hitting percentage during the game. In the first set the Wildcats jumped out to a 4-1 lead but saw Glen Ullin battle back and take a lead after trailing 6-7. Kari Gerving recorded three aces and Michaela Gerving added a kill on a 4-point run that secured a 10-7 lead. Wildcats coach Janet Erhardt called timeout to regain her team’s focus. The timeout resulted in an immediate side out, giving the Wildcats the ball back, but her team failed to capitalize. Glen Ullin went on a 9-2 run and grabbed a 19-10 lead heading into the late parts of the set. The Wildcats got a late push in the set – scoring six points in a row after trailing 13-22 – that made the score 23-19. The scoring streak ended on a lift call, but Henke won her team the ball back with a kill making the score 20-24. But even Henke’s play couldn’t save the Wildcats in the first set and they lost 25-20.
The Center-Stanton Wildcats only needed one win to get in the playoffs despite the team’s small numbers. But it just wasn’t meant to be. Early in the game Logan Staigle, starting senior quarterback, left the game with an injury to his elbow. The Wildcats and Staigle failed to recover losing 50-20 and ending their season at 4-4. After the injury to Staigle the Beach Buccaneers wasted no time in getting the lead. Beach went up 6-0 after a Tyler Steffan 3-yard run, then they added a two-point conversion when Marshall Nunberg, quarterback, ran the ball in. The Wildcats couldn’t get anything going. Staigle tried to play on defense but he couldn’t wrap up so the senior was sidelined for the rest of the game. Beach didn’t let themselves feel sorry for the team and scored another touchdown. The Buccaneers drove the ball down to the 12-yard line and faced a fourth-and-1. The Buccaneers got the conversion and scored on a Nunberg 11-yard run putting them up 14-0. The two-pointer after was no good.
Center Volleyball gets close By Jarann Johnson The Wildcats were close to giving Wilton-Wing their first loss in district play last week, but lost in five sets 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 27-25, 17-25, 10-15). The game was close with both teams making it hard for either team to secure a comfortable lead in any set. The first set started out with Wilton-Wing taking a 4-0 lead. Wilton Wing’s lead was countered by a Center 3-point rally and the pace for the set was created. Neither team gained a large lead until the midpoint of the set. Center was up 14-11 and went on a 3-point rally keyed by two Rachel Vitek aces. Wilton-Wing earned a side out and and scored, making the score 17-13. Center didn’t let the small rally become big and grabbed a 23-15 lead. The Wildcats only needed two points for the set win, but Wilton-Wing made a late rally scoring five straight and making the score 23-20. The Wildcats didn’t let the late run disorient them, instead they looked to Siam Simpfenderfer, senior outside hitter, and she scored on consecutive plays ending the game 25-20. Set 2 played out similar, but even closer. There were 12 ties during the set and at one point set could be summarized as, “ away side-out, home side out, tie game.” The set was tied at 11-11, 12-12, 13-13, 14-14, 15-15, 16-16, 17-17, 18-18, 19-19, 20-20. After that Wilton-Wing gained control. Wilton-Wing went on a 4-point rally keyed by a Karlee Arnold ace. Center rallied for two points but a serving error late in the set gave Wilton-Wing a 25-22 win. The Wildcats only trailed twice in set 3 but they were close numerous a few times. Late in the set the Wildcats broke a 22-22 tie and gained a 24-22 lead but they couldn’t close it out. Tristen Henke, outside hitter, committed a hitting error that gave Wilton-Wing the lead 25-24.
The Wildcats knew they would have to play a mistake-free game to beat third ranked Grant County. Grant County entered the game undefeated and averaging 59 points a game. But they are also a very talented defensive team, only giving up about 7 points per game. The Wildcats played hard in the game but played right into the averages and lost 54-6. The Wildcats lone score was a long passing play from Logan Staigle to Lane Erhardt. Erhardt caught the pass near the away team side line in 1-on-1 coverage at about the 40-yard line, then stopped and evaded several tacklers by cutting to the left and finished the play by racing back down the away team line. Other than that there weren’t many highlights for the Wildcats. Grant County started the game by scoring three times and taking a 22-0 lead in the first quarter. In the second quarter Grant County continued to play well, scoring a 1-yard touchdown and making the score 30-0.
A rainy day with wet socks and numb fingers would leave most parents, fans and players with a bad attitude. But the Center-Stanton Wildcats were all smiles after score 68 points against Bowman last Friday and moving their record to 3-2 this season. Maybe it was the lure of free hot dogs at the Wildcats’ homecoming tail gate that set that pace for countering the rainy conditions but the Wildcats early offense certainly helped. Noah Johnson ran for a 10-yard score on the Wildcats’ first possession of the game. Johnson followed catching a two-point conversion pass from Logan Staigle, making the score 8-0. The Wildcat defense forced a turnover on downs on Bowman’s first possession. Center got good pressure on Bowman’s first punt attempt and forced a bad snap that Bowman’s punter couldn’t send kick.
Sometimes kids don’t have to hear their parents yelling “It’s dinner time” to know it’s time to eat. The Center-Stanton Wildcats were in a similar position heading into their game with Hettinger-Scranton. The Wildcats didn’t need anyone to tell them how important the game was, they already knew. Heading into last Friday’s game there was a cluster of teams fighting for the final playoff spot. Grant County, Shiloh and Richardson-Taylor all have a strong lead on the first three playoff spots but the last one had several teams hovering around 2-2 in region play. Hettinger-Scranton was 1-2 and so was Center-Stanton, so the winner of this game would have a strong shot at the final playoff spot.
In all reality the Center-Stanton Wildcats knew they would be fighting for the last playoff spot at the end of the year. Shiloh returned a lot of core players from their 2012 playoff team. Then there was also Grant County and Richardton-Taylor, schools that played competitive 11-man football in region 4A but dropped back to 9-man after re-classification, meaning they would be back as powers in the 9-man ranks.
Last Tuesday’s season opener was a lot like eating a turkey dog for the Center-Stanton Wildcats. They knew it was good for them but it lacked the delicious taste of victory. The Wildcats fell 48-18, 30 points better than their 60 point loss to the Shiloh Sky Hawks in 2012.