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2024 Girls Basketball State Tournament Semifinals Roundup

by Mar 1, 2024Preps Girls Basketball

girls basketball
Photo Credit: Mike Sautter

Pinnacle Bank Arena hosted the Class C1, Class B and Class A semifinals of the Nebraska Girls Basketball State Tournament on Friday.

Quarterfinals Coverage: Wednesday | Thursday


No. 1 Lincoln Christian 51, No. 4 Bridgeport 32

Matthea Kassebaum took over in the second half and nearly matched Bridgeport’s output on her own as the Crusaders punched their ticket to the championship game.

Kassebaum finished with 28 points including 17 of Christian’s 25 after halftime as the Crusaders held the Bulldogs to 10 points in the final 16 minutes to pull away. Kassebaum went 12-for-13 at the foul line in the game and added six rebounds and four assists to her stat line.

Lincoln Christian raced out to a 12-4 lead early with great ball movement against Bridgeport’s zone, but the Bulldogs settled in and trimmed the deficit down to two midway through the second quarter.

Lincoln Christian led 26-22 at halftime but ran into potential trouble when senior Kenadee Ailes, the Crusaders’ leading scorer on the season, picked up her fourth foul at the 3:25 mark of the third quarter with Christian up 31-24.

However, Kassebaum picked up the slack and scored or assisted on her team’s next 17 points while the Crusaders continued racking up stops to pull away.

Northern Colorado signee Olivia Loomis-Goltl led Bridgeport with 17 points and nine rebounds. Fellow senior Grace Dean added 12 points and seven rebounds.

No. 2 Sidney 37, No. 3 Grand Island Central Catholic 35

The Lady Raiders led wire to wire thanks to a tremendous defensive start to the game, but they had to survive a shot at the buzzer to earn their spot in the final.

Sidney led 12-2 after one and 19-5 late in the first half as the Crusaders missed 15 of their first 17 shots from the field, but Central Catholic closed the half on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit in half at the break.

Senior Carolyn Maser, who had a significant size advantage over the smaller Lady Raiders at 6-foot-1, took over inside and scored 11 of Central Catholic’s 12 points in the third quarter, but Sidney scored 12 as well to maintain its lead.

The Crusaders chipped away throughout the fourth quarter, pulling within two on an Avery O’Boyle 3 with 2:14 to play, but neither team scored again until Kayla Westby spit a pair of bonus free throws to put Sidney up by three with 22.8 to play. The Crusaders went for the quick 2 with Maser inside and fouled Karsyn Leeling with 8.8 left. She also went 1-for-2, and Bryndal Moody got a leaning 3 off at the buzzer that didn’t fall.

Central Catholic played the same five players for the entire game. Maser led the way with 15 points on 4-of-8 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line, 14 rebounds (seven offensive), four blocks and two steals.

Sidney went nine-deep with seven players scoring, led by Leeling’s nine points, three steals and two blocks.

Sidney advances to the championship where the Lady Raiders will face No. 1 Lincoln Christian on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.


No. 1 Skutt Catholic 45, No. 4 Gretna East 28

A tenacious defensive effort was more than enough to offset a rough shooting day for the SkyHawks as they glided back into the championship game.

Skutt led 15-4 after one and 28-8 at halftime, building a big enough cushion to comfortably cruise through the second half despite shots not falling. The SkyHawks gave up nine buckets all game as the Griffins shot 25.7% from the field with 15 turnovers.

Junior Molly Ladwig led the way with 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Drake signee Peyton McCabe chipped in 11 points and five boards. Junior Kamryn Kasner notched her own double-double with 10 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from the line, 13 rebounds (six offensive), three assists and three steals.

Junior Sonora DeFini led Gretna East with eight points and seven rebounds.

No. 2 Elkhorn North 59, No. 6 Beatrice 49

One day after moving into second place on Nebraska’s career scoring list, Britt Prince recorded a triple-double to fend off a Beatrice upset bid and send Elkhorn North to the state championship game for the fourth consecutive season.

The future Husker scored 33 and Colorado State signee McKenna Murphy added 20 in the Wolves’ quarterfinal win over Scottsbluff, so Beatrice was determined to make somebody else beat them with a triangle-and-two defense.

That’s exactly what seniors Sydney Stodden and Reese Booth did. Stodden scored 16 points, mostly on baseline jumpers off Prince’s passes, and grabbed nine rebounds. Booth added nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, and she scored in transition in the fourth quarter to give Prince her 10th assist and put the Wolves up by 10 midway through the fourth.

Beatrice continued to battle, however, cutting the deficit down to four with a pair of 3-pointers from Ellie Jurgen and Annie Gleason, but the Wolves shut them out the rest of the way and went 6-for-6 at the foul line to seal the victory.

Prince finished with 21 points on 6-of-12 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals and three blocks. Elkhorn North did not make a 3 in the game, finishing 0-for-5, but the Wolves took advantages of the weaknesses of the zone to attack the offensive glass, rebounding 13 of their misses.

Beatrice shot 8-of-22 from deep to keep pace with the Wolves (who led by 12 in the second quarter before a 9-0 Lady Orange run trimmed the deficit back down) but couldn’t find a way to score enough inside against Elkhorn North’s defense to win.

Freshman Alijah Stabler led Beatrice with 13 points and five steals while Gleason and senior Addie Hatlicff chipped in 11 points apiece.

The Wolves advance to Saturday’s championship to face top-seeded Skutt Catholic, a rematch of the past two Class B state title games. Tipoff at Pinnacle Bank Arena is set for 1 p.m.


No. 1 Millard West 59, No. 5 Lincoln North Star 24

The Gators got off to a fast start, scoring the first five points of the game. Then the Wildcats answered with a 26-0 run en route to a blowout victory.

Millard West junior Norah Gessert outscored North Star by herself through three quarters, finishing with 20 points on 8-of-12 from the field (3-of-6 from 3) and 1-of-1 from the free-throw line, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Neleigh Gessert added 11 points eight boards and three assists, sophomore Kyle Paben recorded a double-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and two steals and senior Taylor Hansen chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds (five offensive).

The Wildcats held the Gators to 7-for-47 from the field including 1-for-24 from 3 and forced 14 turnovers to earn their place in the championship.

No. 3 Bellevue West 57, No. 2 Lincoln Southwest 51

On Jan.19, Bellevue West sat at 6-6 after a 74-62 loss to Millard West. Since then, the Thunderbirds have ripped off 14 straight and will get another crack at the Wildcats after knocking off the Silver Hawks in Friday’s semifinal.

The Silver Hawks led by one at halftime, but Bellevue West opened the third quarter on a 10-0 run. Southwest clawed back into it in the fourth, pulling within one largely thanks to the efforts of Kennadi Williams, who assisted two Silver Hawk 3s then stole the ball on the in-bound and laid it up while falling to the ground to complete an 8-2 run, making it 49-48 Thunderbirds with just over four minutes to play.

However, Bellevue West settled back in and locked up on defense, holding the Silver Hawks without a field goal the rest of the way until a meaningless put-back at the buzzer. Naomi White hit a short jumper and Kenzie Melcher hit a long one to spark the 8-1 spurt that gave the Thunderbirds control for good.

White, a Grand Canyon commit, finished with a game-high 16 points, five rebounds and two steals. Senior Dani Coyer was a force inside in the first half and finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting plus a pair of free throws, and she grabbed six rebounds. Senior Ahnica-Russell-Brown added 12 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line plus five rebounds.

Kennadi Williams left everything she had on the court she’ll call home in college. The daughter of Husker head coach Amy Williams played through a toe injury, then suffered a bloody nose late in the game, but she still finished with a team-high 15 points, five assists and three steals.

The Thunderbirds will take on the top-seeded Wildcats on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Devaney Center Results

Class D1

>> No. 1 Pender 48, No. 4 O’Neill St. Mary’s 39: Maya Dolliver led three Pendragons in double figures with 18 points as the reigning champs punched their ticket back to the final

>> No. 3 Southern Valley 34, No. 2 Guardian Angels Central Catholic 29: Ann Bose scored five of her team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Eagles to the championship game.

Championship: No. 1 Pender (27-1) vs. No. 3 Southern Valley (28-1), 9 a.m.

Class C2

>> No. 1 Yutan 45, No. 5 Bishop Neumann 39: Mylee Tichota scored 11 of her team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Chieftains outscored the Cavaliers 20-7 in the fourth quarter.

>> No. 2 Crofton 51, No. 3 Elmwood-Murdock: Sammie Allen led a balanced attack for Crofton with a game-high 12 points.

Championship: No. Yutan (23-2) vs. No. 2 Crofton (27-0), 4:15 p.m. Saturday.

Class D2

>> No. 1 Overton 57, No. 4 Howells-Dodge 43: Ashlyn Florell scored 21 points and Natalie Wood added 17 to lead the Eagles to the title game.

>> No. 3 Wynot 42, No. 2 Falls City Sacred Heart 32: Wynot held the Irish to 10 first-half points to build a double-digit halftime lead then maintained it throughout the second half as Allison Wieseler led the way with 10 points.

Championship: No. 1 Overton (27-1) vs. No. 3 Wynot (22-2), 8:15 p.m.

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