The 2021 girls state basketball tournament continued on Friday with the C1, B and A semifinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
No. 5 North Bend Central 60, No. 8 Winnebago 40
Winnebago’s run came to an end in the semifinals on Friday as C1’s reigning champ looked every bit the part of a team set on repeating.
Winnebago knocked down 10 3s in its district final to qualify for the state tournament and the Indians hit six of them in Wednesday’s quarterfinal upset over top-seeded Grand Island Central Catholic, pulling out a 48-46 win.
Shots didn’t fall on Friday, however, as Winnebago shot 3-of-18 from deep. Those shooting struggles in addition to North Bend Central’s pressure on defense (leading to 20 turnovers) was too much to overcome.
Junior guard Sydney Emanuel had a big first half then took over in the third as the Tigers ran away with the game. She finished with 27 points and grabbed seven offensive rebounds, crashing the glass hard against Winnebago’s zone defense. Her sister Kaitlyn, a 6-foot sophomore, added 11 points, eight boards and three steals.
Winnebago was in it early, keeping it a two-point game at 16-14 late in the first quarter before the Tigers scored the last five to take a 21-14 lead into the second quarter. Winnebago could only must six points apiece in the second and third quarters as North bend Central took a 32-20 lead into halftime and pushed the advantage to 20 at the end of three.
Senior point guard Natasha Deal led the Indians with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Senior center Keisha Snyder added nine points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive). Winnebago finished 16-11 on the year.
North Bend Central: 21-11-14-14—60
Winnebago: 14- 6- 6-14—40
NBC: Sydney Emanuel 27, Kaitlyn Emanuel 11, Cierra Kluthe 9, Ally Polar 4, Hannah Williams 3, Madelyn Gaughen 3, Kendyl Boyce 3
W: Natasha Deal 12, Keisha Snyder 9, Sylvia Valentino 5, Madeline Cleveland 4, Sinya Harlan 3, Ciara Frenchman 2, Latecia Contreras 2, Auriah Means-Ghostdog 1
No. 3 Hastings St. Cecilia 29, No. 2 Lincoln Lutheran 25
After a run-and-gun first game, points came at a premium in the second as the two teams combined for 54 points and just 19 field goals. The Hawkettes held the Warriors without a field goal for more than 12 minutes the in the second half to pull ahead and then held on to advance to the title game.
St. Cecilia leading scorer Bailey Kissinger stepped up to the free-throw line twice in the final 45 seconds and missed the front end both times. After the second miss, Lutheran’s Abby Luebbe took it to the rim and made it a two-point game with 12 seconds left. Lutheran sent Kissinger back to the line tie 9.2 on the clock, and this time she swished both to seal the victory.
Kissinger picked up two fouls in the first 3:13 of the game and took a seat for the rest of the first quarter. The Warriors took a 9-4 lead after the first eight minutes. Kissinger returned to the game to start the second quarter and played the rest of the way, finishing with a game-high 12 points.
Freshman Tatum Krikac checked in late in the second quarter and knocked down a 3 to pull St. Cecilia within three at 16-13. Lutheran opened the second half with a three-point play by Oxley, Kissinger put together a personal 6-0 run to tie it and Katherine Hamburger gave the Hawkettes their first lead with a air of free throws, a lead they never relinquished.
Oxley finally ended Lutheran’s drought from the field with a layup that cut the led from four to two, but Kissinger answered with a layup of her own to push it back to four before the two-minute mark. Neither side scored again until Luebbe’s layup.
Lincoln Lutheran: 9-7-4-5—25
Hastings St. Cecilia: 4-9-8-8—29
LL: Shanae Bergt 6, Abby Wachal 6, Katelynn Oxley 6, Jenna Luebbe 4, Addi Ernstmeyer 3
HSC: Bailey Kissinger 12, Shaye Butler 7, Katherine Hamburger 7, Tatum Krikac 3
No. 1 Norris 43, No. 5 York 36
A strong defensive showing in the fourth quarter sent the top-seeded Titans on to the Class B state title game with a 43-36 win.
York did a good job of controlling the paint, holding Norris to 6-of-19 inside the arc, but the Titans shot 6-of-12 from 3 and hit just enough free throws in the fourth quarter to pull away in the fourth.
Brianna Stai led all scorer with 16 points, Maddie Collier chipped in nine and Kalli Kroeker grabbed 10 rebounds and two steals to go with her six points.
Norris controlled the action throughout the first quarter, executing its offense for post buckets and kick-out 3s to take a 13-6 lead.
A 3 by Delaney White pushed Norris’ lead to 16-7, but York turned the tables from there, picking up the intensity on defense and closing the half on. 12-3 run to tie it up at 19-all. York forced six turnovers and held the Titans to 2-5 shooting in the second.
The teams went back and forth in the third quarter with six lead changes and three ties. Kroeker cleared a rebound and passed it ahead to Stai for a deep 3 at the buzzer and she banked it in to take a 30-29 lead into the fourth.
Maddie Portwine scored to give York the lead to open the fourth, but Norris answered with an 9-0 run including a 3 by Stai and free throws from Stai and Maddie Collier. York didn’t score until the clock showed 42.8, and by that time it was too late to mount a comeback as the Dukes were ice-cold from deep (0-of-7 in the fourth).
Masa Scheierman led the Dukes with 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks despite dealing with foul trouble throughout the game. Portwine scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Norris: 13- 6-11-13—43
York: 6-13-10- 7—36
N: Brianna Stai 16, Maddie Collier 9, Delaney White 6, Kalli Kroeker 6, Ella Waters 3, Gracie Kircher 3
Y: Masa Scheierman 13, Maddie Portwine 12, Destiny Shepherd 7, Mattie Pohl 4
No. 2 Elkhorn North 65, No. 6 Scottsbluff 41
In the school’s first year of existence, Elkhorn North is headed to the state title game. Star freshman Britt Prince and junior Reilly Palmer outscored the Bearcats by themselves as Elkhorn North held Scottsbluff under 28% form the field.
Prince put up 27 points and seven rebounds, and she shot 4-of-8 from deep as Scottsbluff threw a few different defensive looks at her. Palmer added 19 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.
Elkhorn north raced out to a 15-4 lead after a layup and transition 3 from Prince, but Scottsbluff ended the first quarter on a 6-0 run as Payton Burda pulled up for a 3 and then fed Paige Horne for a three-point play.
Elkhorn North stretched its lead to 14 with a 15-6 start to the second quarter, but Scottsbluff finished strong again, scoring the last five to make it a single-digit game at halftime at 30-21. Elkhorn North led by as much as 13 in the third before a 6-0 Scottsbluff run made it 38-31, but out of a timeout Prince buried a 3 to end the run.
Mariyah Avila responded with a 3 of her own on the other end, but Prince converted a tough layup and then freshman Reese Booth hit a 3 at the buzzer to make it 46-34 heading into the fourth. Palmer opened the fourth with a personal 7-0 run and the Wolves cruised from there.
Sabrina Harsh, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, was a force in Scottsbluff’s two games in Lincoln, totaling 27 points, 17 rebounds and 14 blocks. She had 10 points, seven boards and eight blocks on Friday. Avilah matched her with 10 points to lead the Bearcats.
Elkhorn North will take on top-seeded Norris in Saturday’s final. The teams split their two regular season meetings. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Elkhorn North: 15-15-16-19—65
Scottsbluff: 10-11-13- 7—41
EN: Britt Prince 27, Reilly Palmer 19, Reese Booth 8, Hannah Nadgwick 6, Molly Bruggeman 2, Sydney Stoddard 2, Grace Thompson 1
S: Sabrina Harsh 10, Mariyah Avila 10, Izzy Wright 7, Payton Burda 7, Paige Horne 3, Cali Wright 2
No. 1 Lincoln Pius X 47, No. 5 Omaha Central 38
Omaha Central made Huskers signee and Pius senior Alexis Markowski work for everything she got, but she got a heck of a lot to send the Thunderbolts back to the Class A state championship game.
Markowski put up 30 points, 27 rebounds (seven offensive), three assists, three steals and three blocks in a 47-36 Pius win. The performance was her third of the season with 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds and sets a new career high in rebounds, two shy of the Class A record.
Central’s length with 6-foot-3 senior Nyanuar Pal and 6-foot-5 junior Ital Lopuyo gave the 6-foot-3 Markowski problems in the first half. The Eagles played her straight up a lot of time and although she scored 17 points, it took her 14 shots and nine free throws to get there and Central only trailed by four at halftime.
The Eagles scored the first four points of the second half to tie it up at 25-all, but Pius outscored Central 17-5 the rest of the period as Markowski settled in and stepped her game up, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting to give Pius a 42-30 lead at the end of three.
Central freshman point guard Inia Jones did what she could to get the Eagles back into the game, scoring six of the first 10 points to bring the Eagles to within seven at 45-38. Central had a chance to cut the lead even further with an open look from the right corner, but Aniah Wayne couldn’t get it to fall and the Bolts held on.
Jones was the only Eagle in double figures finishing with 16 points and five steals. Lopuyo grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Central shot 3-of-20 from deep.
Lincoln Pius X: 13-12-17- 5—47
Omaha Central: 10-11- 9- 8—38
LPX: Alexis Markowski 30, Adison Markowski 7, Charlee Hagedorn 4, Jillian Aschoff 2, Leah Mach 2, Lexi Zahourek 2
OC: Inia Jones 16, Aaniya Webb 8, Aniah Wayne 8, Claire Williams 4, Ital Lopuyo 2
No. 3 Fremont 70, No. 2 Millard South 64
Friday saved the best for last as the Tigers pulled ahead early in the fourth quarter and held on late to punch their ticket to Saturday’s final. Eight players scored in double figures in a physical, up-and-down game that saw double-digit lead changes.
Fremont junior Taylor McCabe and Millard South sophomore Cora Olsen scored 18 points apiece to lead the way, but both fouled out in the fourth quarter and foul trouble was a big part of the game.
Millard South raced out to an 11-4 lead, Fremont pulled ahead 18-15 and then Lexi Finkenbiner hit a 3 from Falls City on the mid-court state outline at the buzzer to tie it up. Olsen picked up her third foul late in the period.
Millard South pulled ahead 28-20 to open the second quarter, but Fremont responded with an 18-2 run to pull ahead 38-30. The Patriots settled down and rallied to close out the period as Mya Babbitt drew a foul on a put-back with 0.3 on the clock and hit both free throws to make it 40-37. The teams committed 22 fouls in the first half.
The teams went back and forth throughout the third quarter and Millard South evened it up at 56-all heading into the fourth. Olsen and Khloe Lemon, Millard South’s second- and third-leading scorers, both picked up their fourth foul in the last four minutes of the period.
McCabe put the Tigers up two with a layup, Olsen answered on the other end to tie it up again and then Fremont took the lead for good with a layup by Sarah Shepherd and a three-point play by McCabe.
Millard South gave itself a chance late and got a bit of help with some missed free throws by Fremont. Trailing 67-64, Megan Belt got an open look from the left corner for the tie and put it just too long ad the ball bounced hard off the heel of the rim with 30 seconds to go and Fremont put it away with a few more free throws despite McCabe fouling out with 1:11 remaining.
Charli Earth finished with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds. Macy Bryant shot 6-of-7 from the field and scored 13 points while also corralling eight rebounds and two blocks. Shepherd matched Bryant with 13 points and chipped in seven rebounds.
Babbitt had 14 points, five rebounds and four steals. Lemon added 13 points while Finkenbinder just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds (seven offensive).
Fremont will face Lincoln Pius X for the third time this season to determine a Class A champion. The Thunderbolts won the first meeting 66-62 and the second 79-67. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
Millard South: 18-19-19- 8—64
MS: Cora Olsen 18, Mya Babbitt 14, Khloe Lemon 13, Lexi Finkenbiner 12, Miranda Kelly 4, Megan Belt 3
F: Taylor McCabe 18, Charli Earth 14, Sarah Shepherd 13, Macy Bryant 13, McKenna Murphy 7, Emmalee Shepherd 3, Bella Keaton 2
- No. 1 Crofton 66, No. 4 Bridgeport 48
- No. 6 Ponca 55, No. 7 BRLD 37
- Final: Crofton vs. Ponca, 8:45 p.m.
- Third Place: BRLD 47, Bridgeport 40
- No. 1 Pleasanton 61, No. 4 Fremont Bergan 52
- No. 2 Weeping Water 51, No. 3 Hartington Cedar Catholic 50
- Final: Pleasanton vs. Weeping Water, 9 a.m.
- Third Place: Fremont Bergan 40, Hartington Cedar Catholic 31
- No. 1 Humphrey St. Francis 65, No. 4 Mullen 59
- No. 2 Falls City Sacred Heart 41, No. 6 Wynot 27
- Final: Humphrey St. Francis vs. Falls City Sacred Heart, 3:45 p.m.
- Third Place: Mullen 30, Wynot 28
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.