basketball sits on the court before the game starts
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

2023 Nebraska Girls State Basketball Roundup: Quarterfinal Wednesday

March 01, 2023

The 2023 Nebraska Girls State Basketball Championship tipped off in its new four-day format on Wednesday, with four Class A quarterfinals in the afternoon and evening at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Here’s a run-down of all the Class A games plus notes on the C1 and D1 results.

CLASS A QUARTERFINALS

No. 1 Millard South 74, No. 8 Lincoln Southwest 58

Top-seeded Millard South jumped all over Lincoln Southwest early, forcing 10 quick turnovers and racing out to a 20-2 lead.

The Silver Hawks settled in a bit from there but had no answer for Millard South’s high-powered attack as the Patriots continued to pour in the points throughout the first half to build a 45-23 lead at halftime.

The Silver Hawks won the second half, cutting it all the way down to 13 in the fourth quarter, but they ran out of time and the Patriots avenged their loss to the Silver Hawks in last year’s stat semifinals.

Omaha commit Cora Olsen scored Millard South’s first eight points in the fourth quarter and finished with 31 on 14-for-18 from the field and 3-for-6 from the foul line, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Cal Baptist commit Khloe Lemon scored 11 of her 17 in the first quarter and addd nine boards, three assists and two steals to her line. Kent State commit Mya Babbitt added 14 points, five steals, four assists and four rebounds while Juliana Jones chipped in nine points and three assists, hitting four of her five shots including a triple.

Kennadi Williams, in just her fifth game back from a devastating knee injury suffered last summer, led the Silver Hawks with 23 points while playing on a minutes restriction. The dual-sport Husker commit and daughter of Nebraska women’s basketball coach Amy Williams shot 7-of-13 from the field including 2-of-4 from 3 and 7-of-9 from the foul line.

Williams scored one, four, nine and 16 points in her first four games back on the floor, building to Wednesday’s performance. Her return to form was even more important for the team because senior guard Aniya Seymore went down with a significant injury in the fourth quarter of the Silver Hawks’ district final win at Bellevue West.

“It feels amazing to know that my teammates kind of got us to this point, to give us a chance to win a district and make state,” Williams said. “Just to be a part of that and actually help on the court instead of being on the bench, especially with Aniya going down. I feel like she was a really big part of why we got to that point … so I really just did it for her.”

UNK commit Brinly Christensen added 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting including 3-of-5 from deep and 2-of-2 at the foul line, nine rebounds and four steals. However, Southwest turned the ball over 22 times and dug too big of a hole early to take advantage of Millard South cooling off in the second half. Even so, the Silver Hawks went from 6-8 after 14 games to earning a state tournament berth, winning eight of their last 11.

BOX SCORE

Lincoln Southwest: 8-15-16-19 — 58

Millard South:        25-20-11-18 — 74

LSW: Kennadi Wiliams 23, Brinly Christensen 13, Eleanor Griffin 8, Emma Dostal 5, Piper Bellamy 5, Hayden Rathe 2, Brenly Noerrlinger 2

MS: Cora Olsen 31, Khloe Lemon 17, Mya Babbitt 14, Juliana Jones 9, Grace Prucha 2, Macey Kuchta 1

No. 4 Bellevue West 63, No. 5 Bellevue East 46

The Thunderbirds used a hot start and strong finish to win the battle of Bellevue and avenge a regular season loss to their rival Chieftains.

Bellevue West raced out to a 9-0 lead and overcame three first-quarter fouls to junior point guard Ahnica Russell-Brown to open up a 23-10 lead midway through the second quarter. After  East trimmed the lead to nine heading into halftime, West opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3s from Russell-Brown and sophomore Zhyael Dotzler to push the lead to 15.

Bellevue West junior Ahnica Russell-Brown attacks the basket against Bellevue East in the Class A state quarterfinals Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson.)

The Chieftains chipped away at the deficit the rest of the third and into the fourth, cutting it all the way down to eight, but that’s as close as they could get as the Chieftains misfired on all six of their fourth-quarter 3s.

Russell-Brown avoided pick up another foul after the first quarter and finished with a team-high 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting including 2-of-5 from deep with six rebounds. Naomi White scored 15 points including a pair of triples and grabbed 17 rebounds from her guard spot. 

Sophomore Zhyael Dotzler chipped in 11 points in 4-of-8 shooting including 3-of-7 from 3 before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Center Dani Coyer corralled 13 rebounds, blocked two shots and knocked down a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter to finish with eight points. The Thunderbirds knocked down nine triples as a team.

Sophomore Jayla Wilson led the Chieftains with a game-high 19 points while fellow sophomore Bra’Ni Jackson added 15 points, but Bellevue East shot under 30% from the field and under 50% from the foul line as a team. The Chieftains were without second-leading scorer Kara Stricklin, a junior guard who suffered an injury in the team’s district semifinal win.

Bellevue West will face top-seeded Millard North in the semifinals on Friday at 6 p.m. CT in a rubber match game. The Thunderbirds topped the Patriots 55-53 in the Metro Holiday Tournament final then Millard South turned around 10 days later and outlasted Bellevue West 93-91.

BOX SCORE

Bellevue East:  10-  6-23-  7 — 46

Bellevue West: 16-  9-22-16 — 63

BE: Jayla Wilson 19, Bra’Ni Jackson 15, Mya Skoff 6, Loveyah Jones 6

BW: Ahnica Russell-Brown 18, Naomi White 15, Zhyael Dotzler 11, Kenzie Melcher 9, Dani Coyer 8, Faith Elmore 2

No. 2 Millard North 54, No. 7 Lincoln North Star 36

Millard North took a two-possession game at halftime and turned it into a blowout by tripling up the Gators in the third quarter behind the hot hand of Sara Harley, and the Mustangs cruised to the victory from there.

Millard North scored the first seven points of the game and led by 10 late in the first (thanks to eight North Star turnovers) before a Gator bucket to end the period. 

Millard North senior Kayla Preston handles the ball against Lincoln North Star in the Class A state quarterfinals Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

North Star settled in and hit the Mustangs with a 12-0 run to take the lead at 22-21, but a 3 from Harley and a put-back from fellow sophomore Avril Smith put Millard North back in front at halftime, 26-22.

Millard North carried that momentum into halftime and opened the third quarter with an 11-0 run featuring three straight 3s from Harley and a steal for a layup from Smith, and the Gators never threatened after that. Millard North outscored North Star 21-7 in the third, and the Gators only scored eight more in the fourth.

Harley went 4-for-4 from deep in the third quarter and finished with 15 points on 5-for-8 from 3 overall.

Smith led everyone with 16 points on 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from the foul line, 13 rebounds (four offensive), five steals and three blocks. Kayla Preston got off to a good start with nine points in the first quarter and finished with 13 overall on 6-of-7 shooting, four assists and four steals.

North Star finished with 24 turnovers against Millard North’s full-court pressure, most of which were steals. Sarah Gatwech was the only Gator in double figures with 15 points.

BOX SCORE

Lincoln North Star: 7-15-  7-  8 — 37

Millard North:        15-11-21-  7 — 54

LNS: Sarah Gatwech 15, Kendall Anderson 8, Saliesha Gray 7, Ani Leu 4, MiKayla Ray 3

MN: Avril Smith 16, Sara Harley 15, Kayla Preston 13, Brylee Nelsen 3, Ellie McCarville 2, Mya Sohl 2, Addalyn Rooney 2, Lynn Davis 1

No. 3 Lincoln High 64, No. 6 Millard West 55

The last game of the day proved to be the best as Millard West put up a heck of a fight, but Dyvine Harris and Kiana Wiley took over in the fourth quarter and vaulted the Links into the semifinals.

Lincoln High used an 8-0 run to take the lead late in the first quarter and the Wildcats spent the rest of the night playing catch-up. Millard West tied it up twice — at 22-22 and 35-35 — and pulled within one a few different times, the latest at 42-41 early in the fourth.

Then Harris earned a trip to the foul line, sparking a 22-11 run before the Wildcats hit a 3 at the buzzer. The senior point guard was perfect in the fourth, scoring nine points on a 3, a layup and four free throws while also recording a steal and an assist or two. 

Wiley added eight points of her own in the fourth and finished with a team-high 16 plus six rebounds and three steals. Harris scored 14 points on 2-of-3 from the field and 9-of-12 from the foul line while dishing out four assists without a turnover.

Jailynn Brill, a 6-foot-2 senior, set the tone with five of Lincoln High’s 13 offensive rebounds, finishing with 13 point and nine boards in total.

Sophomore guard Neleigh Gessert got off to a slow start, missing all four of her shots in the first period, but she did miss again until late in the game, hitting eight straight field goals including six 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a fighting chance and finish with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 from the field (6-of-9 from 3) and 1-of2 from the foul line. She also corralled a team-high nine rebounds.

The Links will advance to Friday’s semifinals to face No. 2 Millard North at 7:45 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The two did not meet during the regular season.

BOX SCORE

Millard West: 11-13-13-18 — 55

Lincoln High: 15-13-13-23 — 64

MW: Neleigh Gessert 23, Norah Gessert 9, Taylor Hansen 8, Libby Hoffman 6, Callie Ott 6, McKenna Schooling 3

LH: Kiana Wiley 16, Dyvine Harris 14, Jailynn Brill 13, Aniyah Hicks-Robinson 8, Nyawarga Jock 7, Brian Robinson 6

No. 3 Lincoln High 64, No. 6 Millard West 55

The last game of the day proved to be the best as Millard West put up a heck of a fight, but Dyvine Harris and Kiana Wiley took over in the fourth quarter and vaulted the Links into the semifinals.

Lincoln High senior Kiana Wiley dribbles the ball up the floor in the Class A state quarterfinals Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2023, in Lincoln, Neb. (AP Photo/John Peterson)

Lincoln High used an 8-0 run to take the lead late in the first quarter and the Wildcats spent the rest of the night playing catch-up. Millard West tied it up twice — at 22-22 and 35-35 — and pulled within one a few different times, the latest at 42-41 early in the fourth.

Then Harris earned a trip to the foul line, sparking a 22-11 run before the Wildcats hit a 3 at the buzzer. The senior point guard was perfect in the fourth, scoring nine points on a 3, a layup and four free throws while also recording a steal and an assist or two. 

Wiley added eight points of her own in the fourth and finished with a team-high 16 plus six rebounds and three steals. Harris scored 14 points on 2-of-3 from the field and 9-of-12 from the foul line while dishing out four assists without a turnover.

Jailynn Brill, a 6-foot-2 senior, set the tone with five of Lincoln High’s 13 offensive rebounds, finishing with 13 point and nine boards in total.

Sophomore guard Neleigh Gessert got off to a slow start, missing all four of her shots in the first period, but she did miss again until late in the game, hitting eight straight field goals including six 3-pointers to give the Wildcats a fighting chance and finish with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-13 from the field (6-of-9 from 3) and 1-of2 from the foul line. She also corralled a team-high nine rebounds.

The Links will advance to Friday’s semifinals to face No. 2 Millard North at 7:45 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The two did not meet during the regular season.

BOX SCORE

Millard West: 11-13-13-18 — 55

Lincoln High: 15-13-13-23 — 64

MW: Neleigh Gessert 23, Norah Gessert 9, Taylor Hansen 8, Libby Hoffman 6, Callie Ott 6, McKenna Scholting 3

LH: Kiana Wiley 16, Dyvine Harris 14, Jailynn Brill 13, Aniyah Hicks-Robinson 8, Nyawarga Jock 7, Briauna Robinson 6

CLASS C1 QUARTERFINALS

>> No. 1 North Bend Central 48, No. 8 Yutan 43: Kaitlyn Emanuel led the Tigers with 20 points as North Bend Central raced out to a 17-3 lead after one and held on as Yutan rallied behind 13 points from Laycee Josoff and 12 from Maura Tichota.

>> No. 5 Malcolm 46, No. 4 Wahoo 32: Freshman Halle Dolliver led the way for the Clippers with 19 points while seniors Emma Brown and Alyssa Fortik added 12 and 11 points, respectively. Senior Sammy Leu was the lone Warrior in double figures with 14.

>> No. 2 Bridgeport 61, No. 7 Lincoln Christian 57: The Crusaders gave last year’s runner-up everything they could handle, but the Bulldogs found a way to pull it out late and remain unbeaten. Colorado commit Ruthie Loomis-Goltl led the way with 18 points, Brooklyn Mohrman added 15 and Olivia Loomis-Goltl chipped in 12 for Bridgeport. Sophomore Kenadee Ailes led Christian with a game-high 22 points.

>> No. 3 Hastings Adams Central 45, No. 6 Gothenburg 38: The Patriots outscored the Swedes by 10 in the second quarter to create separation then held on throughout the second half behind Rachel Goodon. Aubrey O’Hare led Gothenburg with 14.

CLASS D1 QUARTERFINALS

>> No. 1 Ravenna 51, No. 8 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller 37: Tori Sklenar went off for 26 points to lead the top-seeded Bluejays to victory. Ravenna had the Mustangs doubled up 42-21 at the end of three before cruising to victory. Freshman Taryn Arbuthnot led S-E-M with 17 points.

>> No. 4 Hastings St. Cecilia 49, No. 5 Elmwood-Murdock 37: The Hawkettes built a double-digit lead at halftime and maintained it through the second half as Ryann Sabatka led three St. Cecilia’s players in double figures with 16. Tatum Backemeyer led the Knights with 11.

>> No. 2 Centura 45, No. 7 Elgin Public/Pope John: Centura held the Wolfpack to four points apiece in the first two quarters then pulled away in the fourth behind 11 second-half points (13 in total) from Sydney Davis.

>> No. 3 Hartington Cedar Catholic 69, No. 6 Johnson-Brock: The Trojans scored as many points in the first half as the Eagles did in the whole game. Makenna Noecker scored 25 by herself to pace Cedar Catholic while sophomore Taryn Ottemann scored 13 for Johnson-Brock.

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.