Shelton rallies as community sends girls’ and boys’ state basketball teams to the state | Grand Island Local News


SHELTON — Larry Brannagan jokes that Main Street in Shelton could close when the city’s basketball teams play state.

For the first time in Shelton Public School history, the women’s basketball team secured a state championship berth after defeating Cambridge 42-23 in the D1-5 District Finals.

And it didn’t stop there for school.

The Shelton Bulldogs women’s basketball team is participating in the state tournament for the first time. The team qualified after a 42-23 win over Cambridge in the D1-5 District Final at Holdrege. Pictured are Vinna Garcia, Brianna Simmons, MaKenna Willis, Sidney Gegg, Callee Carman, Alia Gomez, Halie Clark, Mayte Meza, Dru Niemack, Addison Burr, Jett Johnson and trainer Jeff Thober. Not pictured are Emmilly Berglund, Kaycee Tompkin, Justine Pope, Coach Brooke Bly and Coach Scott Willis.

Ana Salazar, Kearney Center

The Shelton boys’ basketball team earned their own berth in the state tournament by beating Medicine Valley 59-48 in the D2-5 District Finals. It’s the first time the boys have traveled to the state since 1995.

Brannagan, the owner of Larry’s Market in Shelton and a strong supporter of Shelton Public Schools, suspected a few years ago that these students might be the ones to bring the school to the state. The students were active in club basketball and successful in college.

“They’re good hard workers,” Brannagan said. “It helped them along the way.”

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Sherry Gangwish, owner of Gangwish Seed Farms and longtime Shelton resident, has a granddaughter who plays for Shelton and her son-in-law, Scott Willis, is the girls’ assistant coach. She was optimistic they would be the team to go all the way.

Shelton High School Boys' Basketball Team

The Shelton High School boys’ basketball team will join the girls in next week’s state basketball tournament after the Bulldogs defeated Medicine Valley 59-48 on Tuesday night in the D2 district final- 5 in Lexington. Pictured are Coach Kent Ropers, Zach Myers, Riley Bombeck, Kellen Gegg, Luke Gillming, Geraldo Romero, Dylan Kenton, Ben Myers, Christian Bly, Ashton Simmons, Quinn Cheney and Coach Will Reutzel. Not pictured Harper Thober, Jamesyn Thober, Coby Reutzel and Will Roe.

Ana Salazar, Kearney Center

“We had high hopes. They took a long time in the summer. They put a lot of time out of school time. It’s a group of girls who have a common goal and a team goal. They work for each other, not necessarily for themselves,” Gangwish explained.

During the final minutes of the Girls’ District Finals, the entire crowd was on their feet waiting for time to run out.

“It was pretty surreal. It was just fun. It was a fun vibe. Everyone was excited,” Gangwish said.

The school began making tentative plans to hold a festive start for the girls before statehood, but they were cautiously optimistic that all might change if the boys claimed their own district title.

“It’s so amazing. The girls really hoped to succeed when the boys got the chance. … There are a few boy-girl siblings (on teams) that are going to go together,” said Erica Clark, mom of junior Halie Clark.

Blue Vanilla Matcha with Blueberry Boba

Rise & Grind in Gibbon has created three iconic drinks in honor of the Shelton High School boys and girls basketball team. Both teams won their district titles and will face off Tuesday in Lincoln.

Rise & Grind, courtesy

Bulldog pride exploded in the halls of the high school with posters and basketball decor adorning the walls and ceiling. Parents of the team members came to the school after hours on Wednesday to give the building a makeover.

Enthusiasm for the Shelton team even spread to other communities. Rise & Grind in Gibbon has created three signature drinks in honor of Bulldog basketball teams that will be an integral part of their menu.

“Shelton is six miles from Gibbon. They are very supportive of our business. Shelton and Gibbon have a strong connection to supporting youth sports,” said Scott Pickel, owner of Rise & Grind. The girls team members are frequent customers of the cafe, and one of their favorite drinks has been dubbed the Bulldog Latte.

Pickel won’t be able to make it to the state, but he hopes to live stream the games at Rise & Grind.

Small Town Dream Big Sign

Parents of the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Shelton High School entered the school Wednesday night to decorate the school’s hallways and common areas with encouraging signs for their upcoming state tournament games the week next.

Ana Salazar, Kearney Center

The school will begin sending teams out at 8 a.m. Monday with a cheering rally. At 1:30 p.m., students will take a walk through the halls of the school before being driven out of town by local law enforcement. Shelton Public Schools will not have classes Tuesday through Friday.

The Shelton Boys are ranked No. 8 in Class D2 and will play St. Mary’s at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Lincoln Southeast. The Shelton girls are seeded No. 4 in Class D1 and will face No. 5 Niobara/Verdigre at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday at Lincoln Southwest.

Clark said one of the teams’ mottos is “one game at a time” and they continue to have that mentality.

“I am extremely, extremely proud of the coaches and the kids. They’ve put in a ton of effort this year,” said Shelton operations manager Ryan Province. “If they go over there and keep playing like they did, I think they’ve got a good shot. We’ve got some talented kids.”