After whittling the field down from 48 to 24 in the first two days, the 2023 Nebraska Girls State Basketball Championship moved into the semifinal round on Friday.
Here’s a run-down of the semifinals from Pinnacle Bank Arena and notes on the games at at the Devaney Center.
Quarterfinal roundups: Wednesday | Thursday
CLASS B SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Elkhorn North 62, No. 4 York 20
The game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicates, which is saying something about a game that saw a running clock triggered in the third quarter.
The Wolves put together an unreal shooting performance led by superstar junior Britt Prince to punch their ticket to their third straight Class B final. York tried out every defense it had, but Elkhorn North refused to miss.
As a team, the Wolves shot a blistering 23-of-30 (76.7%) from the field including 8-of-9 from 3 and 8-of-12 from the free-throw line.
Prince accounted for nearly half of that herself, finishing with 30 points on 11-for-12 shooting (4-for-5 from 3) and 4-for-4 free-throw shooting plus five rebounds, five assists and five steals in less than three full quarters of work. Her only miss was a 3 from the mid-court logo at the end of the first quarter (from right around where York is on the state map).
Fellow junior McKenna Murphy added 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting including 3-for-3 from deep while senior Grace Thompson chipped in nine points on 4-of-5 shooting (1-of-2 from 3).
The Wolves led 26-7 after one and 45-12 at halftime. The Elkhorn North starters checked out midway through the third, then played briefly in the fourth before taking a seat for good with the clock running.
Chloe Koch led the Dukes with eight points. York turned the ball ver 21 times and attempted just 27 shots, making eight of them.
The Wolves will play for their third state title in the third year of the school’s existence on Saturday afternoon.
York: 7- 5- 4- 4 — 20
Elkhorn North: 26-19-15- 2 — 62
Y: Chloe Koch 8, Kiersten Portwine 5, Lainey Portwine 4, Lauryn Haggadone 3
EN: Britt Prince 30, McKenna Murphy 13, Grace Thompson 9, Reese Booth 4, Reagan Palmer 3, Grace Heaney 2, Sydney Stodden 1
No. 2 Omaha Skutt 63, No. 3 Sidney 36
Omaha Skutt put on a clinic in the first quarter, converting its first eight shots of the game and building up a 26-3 lead by the end of the period.
The SkyHawks slowed down on offense in the last three quarters but the defensive intensity never slipped as Skutt forced 30 Sidney turnovers to cruise into Saturday’s final.
Sidney shot 7-for-17 (41.2%) from 3 in the last three quarters, but the Lady Red Raiders had dug themselves too deep of a hole for it to make much of a difference. Skutt held Sidney to 4-for-25 inside the arc.
Junior Peyton McCabe, a Drake commit, led the way with 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting including 4-for-9 from deep. Sophomore Molly Ladwig scored 10 of her 14 points in the first period. Addison Burt chipped in nine points, five steals and four boards.
Reese Riddle led Sidney with nine points while Karsyn Leeling scored eight off the bench, connecting on both of her 3-point attempts.
Skutt will take on No. 1 Elkhorn North in Saturday’s final at 1 p.m. CT at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The two teams faced off in the SkyHawks’ first game of the season with Skutt pulling out a 42-35 win, Elkhorn North’s only loss of the season.
Sidney: 3-10-13-10 — 36
Omaha Skutt: 26-11- 9-17 — 63
S: Reese Riddle 9, Karsyn Leeling 8, Katie Ramsey 7, Kayla Westby 6, Rheagan Stanley 2, Lilee Wieser 2, Chloe Ahrens 1, Kierra Schrader 1
OS: Peyton McCabe 20, Molly Ladwig 14, Addison Burt 9, Mia McMahon 6, Julia Connealy 4, Kamryn Kasner 4, Presley Douglas 3, Libby Shotkoski 3
CLASS C1 SEMIFINALS
No. 1 North Bend Central 48, No. 5 Malcolm 42
The Clippers gave the Tigers all they could handle despite losing a starter to injury in the first few minutes of the game, but North Bend Central weathered the storm late and pulled out a six-point win to head back to the state championship game for the fourth year in a row.
Malcolm led 20-16 late in the first half, but the Tigers ripped off a 20-4 run to take a 36-24 lead heading into the fourth.
The Clippers didn’t give in, however, as freshman Halle Dolliver put her team on her back, erupting for 15 points in the fourth quarter to bring Malcolm all the way back to within one at 43-42 with 44.4 to play.
The Clippers forced a turnover, but the Tigers took the ball right back and Kaitlyn Emanuel knocked down a pair of free throws. North Bend forced another turnover and Emanuel split a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game with 12.5 to play, and her sister Lindsey Emanuel added two more freebies to close out the game.
Kaitlyn Emanuel, a senior, led the Tigers with 20 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. Lindsey, a sophomore, added 16 points and six rebounds.
Dolliver finished with a game-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Diamond Sedlak added 11 points — all in the first half — and five rebounds. Senior Alyssa Fortik, the school’s all-time leading scorer, suffered a knee injury early in the game and did not return.
North Bend heads back to the state final for the fourth time in as many years and Kaitlyn Emanuel is looking to complete the career sweep.
Malcolm: 13- 7- 4-18 — 42
North Bend Central: 12- 8-16-12— 48
M: Halle Dolliver 25, Diamond Sedlak 11, Emma Brown 3, Madison Schultz 3
NBC: Kaitlyn Emanuel 20, Lindsey Emanuel 16, Madison Bishop 8, Lauren Sterup 4
No. 3 Hastings Adams Central 47, No. 2 Bridgeport 44, OT
The Patriots went toe to toe with the previously unbeaten Bulldogs all game long before senior Kadi Kimberly sent Adams Central to the title game with the biggest shot of her life.
Bridgeport build a four-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Adams Central rallied to pull ahead, one of several lead changes in the fourth quarter. With the game tied and 11.3 to play, the Patriots had a chance to take the lead at the foul line but went 0-2. The Bulldogs didn’t get a good look on the other end and the game went to overtime.
The back-and-forth battle continued into the final minute with the game tied at 44-all. Adams Central moved the ball against Bridgeport’s 2-3 zone, shifting the defense until Kimberly found herself open on the left wing with about 30 seconds to play. She let it fly and it went down to put the Patriots in front.
The Bulldogs couldn’t find an answer in the last 30 seconds, suffering their first defeat of the season after 25 straight wins. Colorado signee Ruthie Loomis-Goltl closed out her prolific career with a game-high 18 point for the Bulldogs while her sister Olivia added 14.
The game-winner capped an 11-point performance for Kimberly while Megyn Scott led the way for a more balanced Adams Central squad with 15 points.
Adams Central (26-1) will face three-time reigning champion North Bend Central (27-1) in Saturday’s C1 final at Pinnacle Bank Arena at 11 a.m. CT.
Hastings Adams Central: 10- 7-10-13-7 — 47
Bridgeport: 10-10- 9-11-4 — 44
HAC: Megyn Scott 15, Kadi Kimberly 11, Gracie Weichman 7, Rachel Goodon 5, Kylie Lancaster 5, Linste Lancaster 2, Lauryn Scott 2
B: Ruthie Loomis-Goltl 18, Olivia Loomis-Goltl 14, Ella Schluterbusch 10, Grace Dean 2
CLASS A SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Millard South 68, No. 4 Bellevue West 47
The two regular season meetings between Millard South and Bellevue West were each decided by two points, with each team earning a victory. The rubber match, however, was over almost as soon as it began.
The Patriots scored on the first first four trips down the floor and near looked back en route to a record-setting rout in Friday’s semifinal.
Bellevue West didn’t score its first field goal until the final 10 seconds of the first quarter as Millard South built up a 22-3 lead at the end of one then stretched it out to 30 at halftime, 42-12.
Millard South led by as much as 33 in the third quarter before cruising to the finish, holding Bellevue West to 25% shooting for the game.
Just before the third-quarter buzzer, Millard South senior Mya Babbitt buried a 3-pointer from well beyond the college arc, her eighth of the game, setting a new single game state tournament record. She was one of seven players who held the previous record after drilling seven triples in a game in last year’s tournament, and now she’s all alone.
Babbitt, a Kent State signee, finished with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting including 8-of-14 from deep and eight rebounds. Cal Baptist commit Khloe Lemon scored 20 points and Omaha signee Cora Olsen dropped a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds including four on the offensive end.
Junior Naomi White was the only Thunderbird in double figures with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Millard South is back in the title game for the first time since 2018, before any of the current players were in high school.
Bellevue West: 3- 9-15-20 — 47
Millard South: 22-10-18- 8 — 68
BW: Naomi White 22, Kenzie Melcher 9, Dani Coyer 5, Faith Elmore 3, Kara Muller 3, Ahnica Russell-Brown 2, Madison Emery 2
MS: Mya Babbitt 28, Khloe Lemon 20, Cora Olsen 15, Juliana Jones 5
No. 3 Lincoln High 52, No. 2 Millard North 38
After building up a double-digit lead at halftime, the Links stymied a Millard North comeback by holding the Mustangs without a point for seven minutes of game time spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth to punch their ticket to the final.
Northern Iowa commit Briauna Robinson spearheaded a fantastic defensive effort for Lincoln High that had Millard North below 32% from the field and she also scored a game-high 17 points on 6-of-12 from the field (1-of-2 from 3) and 4-of-6 from the line.
Senior point guard Dyvine Harris just missed a double-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and three assist while senior Nyawarga Jock went 4-for-6 from deep for 12 points.
Lincoln High used a 13-4 run to take a 22-13 lead midway through the second quarter, the push the advantage to 11 at halftime, 29-18.
After dealing with foul trouble in the first half, senior Kayla Preston put the Mustangs on her back with three straight buckets to cut the lead down to five at 31-26. However, she picked up her fourth on an offensive foul and took a seat with just over two minutes to play in the quarter and Millard North didn’t score again until a Lynn Davis 3 midway through the fourth.
Lincoln High scored 13 straight during the Millard North drought then pushed the lead as high as 19 before a few late buckets from the Mustangs trimmed the lead a bit.
Sophomore Avril Smith was the lone Mustang in double figures with 11 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks.
Lincoln High will take on top-seeded Millard South on Saturday’s Class A state championship at 6:15 p.m. The two teams did not meet during the regular season.
Lincoln High: 15-14- 5-18 — 52
Millard North: 11- 7- 8-12 — 38
LH: Briauna Robinson 17, Nyawarga Jock 12, Dyvine Harris 11, Jailynn Brill 6, Kiana Wiley 4, Josie Hilkemann 2
MN: Avril Smith 11, Sara Harley 7, Kayla Preston 6, Ellie McCarville 5, Lynn Davis 4, Brylee Nelsen 3, Izzie Galligan 2
CLASS C2 SEMIFINALS
>> No. 4 Oakland-Craig 58, No. 1 Crofton 39: The Knights dominated the second (19-10) and fourth (22-10) quarters to knock off the No. 1 seed behind 21 points from Sadie Nelson and 12 from Chaney Nelson.
>> No. 2 Pender 54, No. 3 West Point Grand Island Central Catholic 41: The Pendragons raced out to a 22-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way into the championship game. Sophomore Maya Dolliver led the way with 24 points.
CLASS D1 SEMIFINALS
>> No. 4 Hastings St. Cecilia 38, No. 1 Ravenna 31: The Hawkettes trailed by seven heading into the fourth quarter but outscored top-seeded Ravenna 19-5 in the fourth quarter to pull off the comeback win. Avery Kissinger (18 points) and Ryann Sabatka (13) scored seven points apiece in the fourth to lead the rally.
>> No. 2 Centura 65, No. 3 Hartington Cedar Catholic 45: After trailing by seven at halftime, the Centurions dominated the second half 38-11 to advance to the final. Sydney Davis scored a game-high 25 points for Centura while Makenna Noecker led Cedar Catholic with 18.
CLASS D2 SEMIFINALS
>> No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart 33, No. 5 Humphrey St. Francis 29, OT: Reigning D2 champion Sacred Heart held St. Francis to two points in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime, then held the Flyers scoreless in the extra period to secure the victory as Jessica Wertenberger scored a game-high 16 points.
>> No. 6 Wynot 43, No. 2 Shelton 36: The Blue Devils held the Bulldogs to 15 points in the first three quarters then survived a fourth quarter rally to hand Shelton its second loss of the season. Amber Lawson led the way with 14 points while Kinslee Heimes added 13 for to send Wynot back to the title game after a two-year absence.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.