It's ladies up first in Nebraska when it comes to putting on the show and deciding which basketball programs will earn state basketball titles. And while many of the same programs were back in the hunt on championship Saturday, not all of them took home the champion's hardware.
Bishop Neumann, however, did kick off Championship Saturday with a 45-29 win over fellow Cornhusker State power Lincoln Christian to claim its third girls state basketball title and the first one for the Cavaliers since 2010. Leading just 15-13 at intermission, Jason Simons' club took over in the final 12 minutes of the game and outscored the Crusaders 30-16 in the second half.
Bishop Neumann went on a 7-3 run to end the third quarter and scored nine of the first 10 points of the final quarter to go up 37-22 with 3:55 left in the game. The Crusaders could get no closer than 13 points the rest of the way. Alyssa Rezac led the champions with 14 points, while Lindsey Thiele and Taylor Stuhr added 11 points each. Olivia Hollenbeck led Lincoln Christian with 10 points and five blocked shots in the championship game.
drilled a pair of free throws with 3:49 left to tie the Class D1 state championship game at 27-27, and it was all Archbishop Bergan after that as the Knights went on to claim their first girls state basketball title with the nine-point win over Dundy County-Stratton in Saturday's second state title contest.
DeGroff scored on a layup and Haley Kempf
added a field goal to put the champions up 31-27. Allison Dieckmann
then made five straight free throws down the stretch, allowing Archbishop Bergan to score the final 11 points of the contest. Kempf led the way for Nate Pribnow's squad with 17 points, while Dieckmann poured in 10 points. Grace Frederick
led the way for DCS with 10 points and 17 rebounds.Class B – Northwest (Grand Island) 49, Crete 43
With Grand Island Northwest up 35-28 in the fourth quarter, Whitney Brown
stretched the advantage to nine points when she stole a Crete ball and converted a layup with 5:46 left in the game. But Crete stormed back and pulled within 39-36 on Izzy Eltze's
three-pointer with less than two minutes to go.
Brown converted another layup and Northwest made five of six free throws down the stretch to hold off Crete 49-43 to claim its fourth girls state basketball title and Northwest's first one since 2014. Brown, who was the third leading scorer in last weekend's tournament, led Russ Moerer's club with 23 points and five steals, while Lauren Hauser
added 10 points for the Vikings. Morgan Maly
scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead Crete.Class C2 – St. Cecilia (Hastings) 63, Crofton 45
After trailing 37-23 at intermission of the Class C2 state championship contest, Crofton chiseled away at its deficit in the third quarter and pulled within 46-39 with eight minutes left. Hastings St. Cecilia went up 49-39 early in the final period on Lexi Vertin's
3-pointer before Crofton's Lacey Sprakel scored three straight field goals to pull the runners-up within 49-45 with 4:26 left in the game.
St. Cecilia, however, took all of the drama out of the contest by scoring the final 14 points of the contest to win going away. Makenna Asher
and Vertin led the way for Greg Berndt's club with 18 and 17 points respectively, while Tori Thomas added 11 points and 12 rebounds. Sprakel and Josie Sanger led Crofton with 15 and 11 points respectively.Class A – Millard North (Omaha) 62, Lincoln Southwest (Lincoln) 52
Millard North scored the final 13 points of the second quarter to open up a tight Class A state title contest and take a 34-18 advantage at intermission. Lincoln Southwest chiseled away at the deficit in the third quarter, pulling within eight points three times. But Lincoln Southwest could get no closer than seven points in the final quarter as each club scored 21 points over the final eight minutes of play.Lauren West
led the way for Nebraska's big school state champion Mustangs with a mammoth 31-point and 13 rebound outing, while Nicole Avila-Ambrosi
poured in 13 points for David Diehl's club. Jaden Ferguson
, who scored 61 points in three games last weekend, led Lincoln Southwest with 16 points, while Hannah Kelle
ripped the cords for 12 points for the Silver Hawks.Class D2 – Wynot 39, Sacred Heart (Falls City) 38
Wynot looked as if it was going to run away with Nebraska's small school state championship contest after bolting to a 25-13 advantage at intermission. Kaitlyn Heimes
capped an 8-0 Wynot run with a pair of free throws to put the champions up 20-10 with 2:27 left before intermission. Wynot then led by 14 points three times in the third quarter before holding on for dear life as Sacred Heart rallied.
The two-time defending state champion Irish cut the deficit to 30-21 going into the fourth quarter. Sacred Heart then outscored Steve Wieseler's state championship squad 17-9 in the fourth quarter and pulled within 39-38 with 24-seconds left. Sacred Heart, however, could not pull the trigger one final time.
Heimes led the state champion Blue Devils with 11 points, while Katelyn Heine
and Shaelee Planer
scored 10 points each. Rachel Magdanz
led all scorers with 12 points for the Irish.Dominant programs
The legacy of senior classes is discussed quite often this time of year, so here at MaxPreps we decided to delve into the data to see just how many schools have played their way into Nebraska's girls state basketball tournament in each of the past four basketball seasons.
The answer? Nine.
Millard South, Lincoln East, Elkhorn South, Elkhorn, Lincoln Christian, Mitchell, Bishop Neumann, Hastings St. Cecilia and Falls City Sacred Heart. Although they didn't all win state titles, it is an impressive feat just the same. Another 12 schools qualified for the girls state basketball tournament in three of the last four seasons and 11 more made it to Lincoln twice since 2016.First-time champions and double dippers
All of Saturday's state champions had won state basketball titles in the past, except Class A's Millard North and Archbishop Bergan in Class D1.
The Knights, who made their fifth appearance at the state basketball tournament last weekend, played for a state basketball championship in 1988, but fell to Gibbon 47-46. Millard North, meanwhile, made their 15th appearance at the state tournament and finished third in 2008. Of this year's girls state basketball champions, Wynot has claimed the most championship hardware with seven Class D2 titles, all since 2005. Archbishop Bergan claimed its first state volleyball title and the first girls state basketball championship in school history during the 2018-19 school year. The Mustangs earned the sweep this year as well, but had won state volleyball titles in 1987 and 2016.No defenders
Five of last year's state champions qualified for last weekend's state tournament, but were unable to defend their titles. Omaha Westside, Elkhorn, Superior and North Central all lost in the quarterfinals on Thursday and Columbus Scotus failed to make the trip to Lincoln in 2019. Falls City Sacred Heart, the only school to defend its 2017 title a year ago, fell to Wynot 39-38 in the Class D2 state title contest.Nelson comes up big in Lincoln
After sitting out her junior year with a knee injury, Oakland-Craig (Oakland)
senior Dacey Nelson
went off on the rest of the Class C2 field Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Sure, there was disappointment in not playing for a state title, but Nelson lit it up as the Knights took home the consolation championship hardware. The Hillsdale College signee scored 25, 33 and 31 points in a 59-47 win over Ponca, a 72-68 overtime loss to eventual state champion Hastings St. Cecilia and a 68-60 win over Fillmore Central respectively. The 5-foot-7 guard led all scorers at the state tournament with a three-game total of 89 points and has scored 116 points in four state tournament games for her career. All three of Nelson's single-game performances made our list of the Top 10 single-game scoring outbursts.Championship coachesClass A –
David Diehl, Millard North (23-4)Class B –
Russ Moerer, Grand Island Northwest (21-5)Class C1 –
Jason Simons, Bishop Neumann (23-3)Class C2 –
Greg Berndt, Hastings St. Cecilia (26-1)Class D1 –
Nate Pribnow, Archbishop Bergan (19-8)Class D2 –
Steve Wieseler, Wynot (22-6)Consolation champions
Consolation titles were awarded in Nebraska's four smallest classifications. Wahoo, Oakland-Craig, Pleasanton and Bruning-Davenport/Shickley all ended the season on winning notes Saturday after coming up short in semifinal games Friday.Class C1 ??
Wahoo (25-2) 46, Mitchell (25-3) 24Class C2 –
Oakland-Craig (23-4) 68, Fillmore Central (23-6) 60Class D1 –
Pleasanton (27-2) 53, Elkhorn Valley (24-6) 45Class D2 –
Bruning-Davenport/Shickley (23-5) 36, Sterling (22-7) 34Single-game scoring outbursts33 – Dacey Nelson, Oakland-Craig
, in a 72-68 Class C2 semifinal loss to Hastings St. Cecilia.32 – Grace Cave, Weeping Water
, in a 62-54 Class D1 quarterfinal loss to Pleasanton. 31 – Lauren West, Millard North
, in a 62-52 Class A state title win over Lincoln Southwest.31 – Dacey Nelson, Oakland-Craig
, in a 68-60 Class C2 consolation championship win over Fillmore Central.28 – Lacey Sprakel, Crofton
, in a 63-44 Class C2 semifinal win over Fillmore Central.25 – Jaden Ferguson, Lincoln Southwest
, in a 69-55 Class A quarterfinal win over Omaha Westside.25 – Dacey Nelson, Oakland-Craig
, in a 59-47 Class C2 quarterfinal win over Ponca.24 – Morgan Maly, Crete
, in a 49-43 Class B state title loss to Grand Island Northwest.23 – Keyana Wilfred, Mitchell
, in a 45-41 Class C1 quarterfinal win over Columbus Lakeview.23 – Whitney Brown
, Grand Island Northwest
, in a 49-43 Class B state title win over Crete.Three-game scoring outbursts89 –
Dacey Nelson, Oakland-Craig65 –
Morgan Maly, Crete63 –
Whitney Brown, Grand Island Northwest61 –
Jaden Ferguson, Lincoln Southwest57 –
Lexi Vertin, Hastings St. Cecilia56 –
Lacey Sprakel, Crofton47 –
Lauren West, Millard North46 –
Haley Kempf, Archbishop Bergan45 –
Keyana Wilfred, Mitchell44 –
Olivia Hollenbeck, Lincoln Christian44 –
Hannah Ollendick, Elkhorn Valley43 –
Colby Thies, SterlingThey said it
"We just didn't get ourselves into a flow in the first half, kind of like yesterday," Bishop Neumann coach Jason Simons told the Wahoo News of its low-scoring 15-13 halftime advantage over Lincoln Christian in the Class C1 state title contest Saturday. "We went into the locker room, talked about being more aggressive, them being tougher than the other team. These girls responded as they have all year."
"It is amazing," Allison Dieckmann told the Fremont Tribune after Archbishop Bergan claimed a volleyball-girls basketball state championship sweep last weekend. "I can't believe it happened in both volleyball and basketball. It is something most people don't get to experience. Later on in life we can look back on this and remember it forever."
"Obviously, it's a credit to these young ladies," Northwest coach Russ Moerer told the Grand Island Independent after his Vikings claimed the Class B girls state basketball title Saturday. "I just sit on the bench, seriously. These girls do all the work."
"When we found out it was Crofton, I looked at the girls and said, ‘We are doing this. Not just for me, but for all the alums that made it here and got beat by great (Crofton) teams. We're finishing this one,' " Hastings St. Cecilia assistant coach Clare Hamburger told the Hastings Tribune after the Bluehawks upended state tournament rival Crofton in the Class C2 state title contest.
"I was hoping they might have a little fatigue hangover from last night," Lincoln Southwest coach Jeff Rump told the Omaha World Herald following his club's loss to Millard North in the Class A state title contest after the Mustangs battled through a three triple overtime thriller in Friday's 64-57 semifinal win over Lincoln Pius X. "But they smacked us in the mouth."
"Not many people gave us a chance to be sitting here with another state title," Wynot coach Steve Wieseler told the Norfolk Daily News after the No. 7 seed Blue Devils upended two-time defending state champion Falls City Sacred Heart Saturday in the Class D2 state title contest. "We knew we could do it if we played well."