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Late rally falls short for Creek Valley in D2-6 District Final

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. - For the first time in 11 years, the Creek Valley Storm (11-10, 6-0 D2-12) were playing for a shot to go to the boys state basketball tournament Tuesday night in North Platte. Since the consolidation of Chappell and Lodgepole in 2004, the Storm had never made it to the state tournament with the last appearance from Lodgepole in 2001 and Chappell in 1972.

Their opponent at McDaid Elementary, the home of the North Platte St. Pat’s Irish, would be looking to end a state tournament drought of their own as the Cody-Kilgore Cowboys (11-8, 6-0 D2-11) had the opportunity to clinch their first bid since 2003.

Both squads had really challenged themselves in their out of class play with Creek Valley having lost only one of their ten games to a team with a losing record, Sutherland (9-13) out of Class C2, while the Cowboys managed the same feat only losing to Ainsworth (11-12) out of C2 with an under .500 record. Both teams entered the D2-6 District Final battle tested and ready to punch a ticket to Lincoln, now it was time to see how the 32 minutes of regulation would play out.

In the early stages of the game, both teams seemed to be feeling one another out with a low scoring affair through the first quarter. By the end of one, Cody-Kilgore held a slight advantage, 8-6.

With a little momentum, the Cowboys pushed the lead to nine at one point as Creek Valley couldn’t seem to buy a bucket, shooting just eight percent from the field in the first half. A layup from junior Tanner Crass in the final minute of the second quarter made the halftime score 17-10 in favor of Cody-Kilgore.

After a slow start to the game, the Storm came alive in the second half using an 11-5 run out of the locker room to cut the lead to just one, 22-21, but the Cowboys answered outscoring the team in green 11-4 to push the lead back to eight, 31-23 heading to the fourth.

With only eight minutes of regulation remaining, and their season on the line, Creek Valley made one more push in the final quarter going on a 10-0 run punctuated by a three-point bucket from Crass to take their first lead since early in the game, 35-33, with 3:15 to play. Second-year Cody-Kilgore head coach Steve Fay used a quick timeout in an attempt to quell the momentum garnered by the Storm.

It paid off as the Cowboys once again answered the call ending the game on a 14-5 run while going 12-17 from the foul line in the final frame to secure a 47-40 victory and a trip to Lincoln.

Despite not scoring in the game, senior Michael Rahe, who played his last game in the green and black earned player of the game honors pulling in a team-high 12 rebounds while racking up seven assists and four steals. Crass led the team with 16 points in the game, nine coming in the fourth.

Another senior, Michael Smith, ended his illustrious career with 12 points and five rebounds, fellow senior Pierce Leef totaled two points and four assists, while junior Sam Grabowski recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.

Even with the loss of the three seniors, Creek Valley will, presumably, have a core of juniors and underclassmen who received plenty of minutes this season coming back for next year’s team who will try to finally get over the hump and make it to the State Tournament.



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