With the Christmas break now just a couple days away, the Neligh-Oakdale girls ended the first semester with a big present.
The Lady Warriors took down Niobrara/Verdigre for their first win of the season Tuesday, winning 41-31. They led the Cougars 17-11 at the halftime break. The Cougars tightened the gap in the third quarter, eventually taking the lead late in the quarter. However, the Neligh-Oakdale press was too much for Niobrara/Verdigre, as they held the Cougars to just five points in the final frame while scoring 17 for the win.
Neligh-Oakdale head coach J.J. Wagner made a few changes before the game that he feels paid off in the win.
"We decided to put Taylor (Sehi) in. After watching film and talking to the other coaches, she does a good job in there and doesn't make very many mistakes. She brings a lot to the team," he said.
Neligh-Oakdale implemented a press for much of the game, something Wagner had been wanting to do for quite a while.
"Its a press I've been wanting to put in, but we've had one girl gone for this or that or sick, so I haven't had everybody around. It just kind of got to the point where I felt we needed to throw it in to get that win," he said. "We quick threw it in yesterday and I was pretty impressed with how quickly the girls caught on. They ran it really well tonight."
The press worked so well that the Warriors came away with 29 steals as a team. Heather Pellatz had eight, Jayda Chance took seven steals and Bailey Frey and Kinsley Klabenes had six steals each.
The first win of the season came at a perfect time for the girls, as now they enter the break on the heels of a positive game.
"We've been improving every game. Still, when we go out, you can tell them that you improved every game but it gets to the point where they need that win," Wagner said. "I think this will really help out confidence wise and we'll be able to pick up a few more wins pretty quick."
Klabenes led all Warriors in scoring with 20 points on the night. She shot eight of 16 from the floor. Frey added 11 points while Alexis Jensen added four. Frey, Klabenes and Pellatz each dished out three assists as well.