A big run by the Osmond boys basketball team cost Elkhorn Valley in the Falcons’ 68-35 loss on Friday.
The Tigers took early control of the game with a 26-3 run to open the contest.
Braedyn Ollendick paced EV with 19 points and six rebounds. Derek Hahne netted 7 points, Julio Sierra accounted for 3 points, two blocks and four rebounds, while Brandon Evans, Bryson Anderson and Trevin Hanson each added 2 points.
The Clearwater/Orchard boys basketball team’s rally attempt was not enough, as the Cyclones fell to Boyd County, 52-46, Friday.
Knotted at 11 after the first, the Spartans used a 29-18 run in the next two quarters to take a 40-29 advantage.
OC outscored BC, 17-12, in the fourth, but the comeback fell short.
Ryan Wilhelm recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Blake Hoke tallied 15 points, four boards and four steals, Chris Kester had 6 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals and Gage Clifton pitched in 3 points and five boards.
Clearwater/Orchard (15-9) faces Boyd County in the opening round of the subdistrict tournament Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Creighton.
The Elgin Public/Pope John boys basketball team dropped its regular season finale to O’Neill St. Mary’s, 76-39, Friday.
Leading 15-8 after the first, The Cardinals used a 51-20 run in the second and third quarters to pull away.
Senior Kyle Schumacher led the Wolfpack with 25 points and three assists. Colton Wright tallied 6 points and eight rebounds, Conor Ramold recorded 3 points and five assists, RJ Lierman had 3 points and three helpers and Hunter Reestman added 2 points.
Neligh-Oakdale senior Cameron Wilkinson saw his stellar wrestling career come to an end Saturday evening in the Class D state championship contest.
In the 113-pound championship bout, Archbishop Bergan freshman Caden Arps cruised to a 6-1 decision over Wilkinson.
Arps scored an early takedown in the first, then rode out Wilkinson in the second to claim the early momentum.
An Arps reversal and Wilkinson escape, made the score 4-1 in the third. The freshman sealed the state championship with a third-period takedown.
Wilkinson ends his phenomenal wrestling career with more than 150 wins and a second-place finish this season. The senior Warrior also finished fourth at 106 in 2017.
Looking to avenge his only loss of the season, Elkhorn Valley senior Josh McFarland looked to be on his way to doing that Saturday afternoon when his opponent turned the tables and earned the pin the 160-pound state championship.
Facing Seth Simants of Stapleton, McFarland was hoping to avenge the early December loss at Osceola when Simants pulled off a stunning 14-4 major decision over McFarland, who moved up two weight classes this season.
On Saturday afternoon, Simants earned the pin in 3:35.
McFarland won the 145-pound state championship in 2018. Simants moved up three weight classes after finishing fourth last year at 138.
Elkhorn Valley senior Christian Yaw made his first, and only, trip to Omaha for the Class D state wrestling tournament count.
Yaw made the most of his opportunity by placing fourth at 285 pounds.
After falling in Friday’s semifinals, The senior Falcon opened Saturday with a second-period fall over Chris Sciortino of Garden County.
Yaw then fell to Arcadia/Loup City heavyweight Jakob Jerabek, who lost his first match of the season in Friday’s semis, due to an injury default.
After suffering two back-to-back close matches, Clearwater/Orchard senior Donaven Nolze was able to end his career with a win and placed fifth in the Class D 220-pound state tournament Saturday.
“When I lost that semifinal’s match, I knew it was going to be a battle back because it was in my head,” Nolze stated. “It feels great to know I ended my wrestling career on a high note.”
Nolze dropped into the consolation bracket after falling to Archbishop Bergan’s Peyton Cone, 6-2, in the semifinals. The senior Cyclone then opened Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Clayton Hassett of Mullen in the consolation semis.
Nolze was able to end his career on a high note with a 12-5 decision over O’Neill St. Mary’s Cole Rosenkrans.
“I have to give it all to the coaches,” Nolze commented. “Every time I lost they told me ‘Don’t give up and find it in yourself.’ I really did find it in myself in that final match.”
Neligh-Oakdale sophomore Brock Kester once again will bring home a medal after placing at the Class D state wrestling tournament Saturday.
"It feels good, but I wish I could have finished a little higher," Kester stated.
Kester opened the day with a 7-2 loss to Teven Marshall of Mullen in the 113-pound consolation semifinals.
Kester, who placed fifth at 106 last year, bounced back to defeat Thayer Central's Brenner Mclaughlin, 6-2, in the fifth-place match.
"I got up (early) and got a few takedowns on him," Kester recalled. "I just sat back and did my thing."
Neligh-Oakdale capped off its regular season with a double-overtime win over Niobrara/Verdigre on Friday night.
The Warriors outlasted the Cougars, 60-51, in a marathon road game to improve to 18-6 on the season.
“After tonight, we’re an 18-win team,” N-O Coach Ethan Larsen said. “Every team that we play is coming at us because we’ve got the target on our back now. We’re no longer flying under the radar. We’re playing good basketball, and every game we’re in, the opposing team is going to play their best basketball against us. It’s a mentality thing. It’s something we need to know going forward. And I think tonight our guys understand, after that double overtime win, they’ve got to be prepared to go out and execute at the highest level from this point forward.”
Larsen said his team’s first quarter “was fantastic.”
Cole Belitz quickly started off the scoring with a layup. The Cougars tied it up on their next possession, but then the Warriors went on an 11-0 run with Austin Rice pouring in 6, Beau Murray and Belitz cruising in for layups and Hunter Charf adding a free throw. N/V scored again, but Rice answered with a putback. After a 5-0 Cougar run, Julien Hearn hit a triple and Rice nailed a jumper to lead 20-9 at the end of the first.
“We worked in practice on a lot of the stuff we did in that first quarter and it showed,” Larsen said. “It shows that even when we’re not playing a game, the boys are still coming in and doing a good job learning and getting better.”
Points were hard to come by in the second. Rice went up strong for a bucket and went 1-2 at the line and Hearn hit a trey. Meanwhile, N/V put up 11 points to close the gap at halftime, 26-20.
After the break, the Warriors continued to struggle offensively as Isiac Kurpgeweit netted a bunny and Murray drove in for two and hit one from beyond the arc. A big third quarter by the Cougars gave them a 39-33 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
Rice drove in for a layup and the Cougars answered. Kurpgeweit scored on a putback and Rice went 1-2 at the line after he drew an intentional foul. Charf hit a clutch triple to knot it up at 41-all. N/V connected on a field goal and Kurpgeweit kissed one off the glass to tie it up 43-43, sending the game into overtime.
In the first overtime, Belitz drove in for a layup and the Cougars evened it up again. Rice nailed a jumper and N/V answered, sending the game into another overtime.
The Warriors took charge in second overtime. Belitz scored 10 of his total 16 points in the final 4:00 of play. He drained two long-range triples before the Cougars were forced to foul with about 1 minute left. N-O went 7-8 at the line to seal the game with 4 from Belitz, 1 from Rice and 2 from Hearn.
During regulation, Belitz said he “couldn’t make anything,” but his shots started to fall in overtime.
“I think I was just getting super frustrated, so that last overtime was just another opportunity to put the ball in the hole,” he said. “I think I just kind of forgot what I was doing wrong and just got confident and got hot.”
Rice led the Warriors with 19 points and 8 boards, followed by Belitz with 16 points and 6 steals, Hearn 8 points, Murray 7, Kurpgeweit 6 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks and Charf 4.
“I’m proud of our boys and their efforts over the course of the entire game,” Larsen said.
Belitz said his team “definitely needs to go hard in practice on Monday” to get ready for postseason play.
“We just need to lock in our focus,” he said. “We’re playing Battle Creek again and we’re 1-1 on the season with them, so we’re hoping to break that one into a winning record.”
Neligh-Oakdale is the #2 seed in the C2-8 subdistrict, which is set to begin on Tuesday night. They will face #3 Battle Creek in O’Neill at 7:45 p.m.
“Starting now, it’s a brand new season and we’re going to make sure we’re playing at the highest level so we can continue to play more games,” Larsen said.
Two Neligh-Oakdale seniors will cap their stellar careers in the Class D state championship match. after winning their semifinals’ matches Friday.
Seniors Cameron Wilkinson and Andrew Herley sealed a spot in the title contests.
“it feels great and I can’t believe it’s going to happen,” Wilkinson stated. “My brother came in the hotel before we were going to leave and told me to stick to what I know, go out, move around and do what I know. I got the win and it still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Wilkinson scored a 9-1 major decision over Teven Marshall of Mullen. The Warrior’s 113 pounder got his offense going early with a takedown and two 3-point near falls in the first period.
“That first period I went out full board,” Wilkinson added. “I tried to do what I’m good at, got an 8-0 lead and tried not to do anything stupid. I went in knowing that’s what I need to do. Usually when I can score the first points in a match, it helps me to keep rolling. That’s what my mindset was, score first.”
Herley cruised to an 8-4 decision over Central Valley’s Trigger Pokorny to seal a spot in the state title match for the second time in his career.
“It feels pretty good,” Herley noted on wrestling for a state title. “It didn’t work out the way I wanted it to sophomore year. I got a pretty good shot to do it this year.”
Brock Kester (113) kept his season alive with a 4-2 decision over Nathaniel Murillo of Morrill.
Senior Jayden Arehart saw his career come to an end after falling to North Platte St. Patrick's Talan McGill, 8-1.
Kester faces Marshall in the consolation semis Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
The finals are scheduled for 2 p.m. Wilkinson faces Archbishop Bergan freshman Caden Arps in the 113-pound championship contest, while Herley faces a familiar foe in Pleasanton senior Tyler Pawloski at 132. Pawloski will be seeking his fourth state championship.
“I’ve wrestled the kid twice already,” Herley concluded. “I got caught the first time by him and lost by three last time at districts in the finals. I say I got a pretty good shot at him. He’s got everything to lose. He’s going for his fourth title, and I got nothing to lose. I’ll go out there and wrestle my match. I’m going to give it everything I got and leave it all on the mat.”
Elkhorn Valley senior Josh McFarland will once again be competing for a state wrestling championship after winning his semifinals match at the Class D state tournament Friday at Omaha’s CHI Health Center Arena.
McFarland cruised to a second-period pin over High Plains Community’s Dylan Soule in the 160-pound semifinals match.
“It feels good and it’s a great honor making it to the finals,” McFarland noted. “Even if you won it before, it’s still a great honor. You just have to wrestle hard and keep pushing forward. I feel like it’s a really good thing for our school. From my freshman year and on, the program has really excelled. A lot of good has happened to the program. I’m happy for that and happy for the people who have come and supported us.”
In the 106-pound semifinals, Hunter Bennett fell to defending state champion Ogan Russell of High Plains Community, 6-1.
Christian Yaw fell in his semifinals match to Kien Martin of Overton.
Senior Brock Schaecher kept his career alive and guaranteed a spot on the podium after picking up a 7-5 decision over Weeping Water’s Slater Mozena at 182.
Bennett faces Harvard’s Dalton Hansen, Schaecher takes on Archbishop Bergan’s Ethan Villwork, While Yaw squares up against Chris Sciortino of Garden County Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
McFarland gets a rematch against the lone wrestler that has defeated him this year. The Falcon senior tangles with Stapleton’s Seth Simants for the 160-pound crown at 2 p.m.
“I’m excited and It’s going to be a good match,” McFarland concluded.
Shock and screams filled the CHI Health Center Arena when the official smacked the mat in Clearwater/Orchard senior Clay Thiele's Class D semifinals match Friday.
After Thiele scored the first takedown against Micheal Jensen of Winside in their semifinals match, Jensen scored nine of the next 11 points to claim a 9-4 lead in the second period.
The senior Cyclone reversed Jensen then put his opponent on his back. Thiele stuck Jensen, then jumped up off the mats with his arms extended in the air and the OC faithful going nuts.
"I knew I was in trouble," Thiele recalled. "I was getting beat most of the match. I couldn't give up and had to keep going. I knew I needed to win this to get to the finals. I never gave up. I caught an early dump, dumped him on his back and finished it out. It's a great feeling."
OC senior Donaven Nolze dropped a hard-fought 220-pound semifinals match to Payton Cone of Archbishop Bergan, 6-2.
Nolze drops into the consolation semis and faces Mullen's Clayton Hassett Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The winner wrestles for third place, while the loser drops into the fifth place match.
Thiele advances to the the 195-pound state championship match against Bayard's Karsen Hunter Saturday at 2 p.m.
"Starting as a freshman and learning wrestling, it's a very big accomplishment to make it to the finals as a senior," Thiele concluded.
Elkhorn Valley senior Brock Schaecher was not yet ready to hang up the wrestling shoes as the senior Falcon stayed alive with a win in the consolation round of the Class D state wrestling tournament Friday morning at Omaha’s CHI Health Center Arena.
The EV 182 pounder scored a pin over Palmer’s Justin Kuta in the first period.
Prestin Vondra (145) and Adam Miller (120) each opened up the day with a win in their first consolation match, but fell in their second outing to bow out of the tournament.
Falcon senior Mitchell Petersen also saw his season come to an end with a 3-1 loss to Thayer Central’s Jackson Feulner. Early in the second period, Petersen was slammed on his head and could have took the disqualification victory, but the senior Falcon continued the match and fought valiantly.
Schaecher takes on Weeping Water’s Slater Mozena tonight at 5 p.m. with a spot in the consolation semis on the line.
Two senior Clearwater/Orchard wrestlers saw their stellar careers come to an end at the Class D state wrestling tournament Friday morning at Omaha’s CHI Health Arena.
Codey Snider bounced back from his 182-pound overtime loss in the first round to score a second-period fall over Meridian’s Micah Noel. Snider then fell to Weeping Water’s Slater Mozena, 10-5, in a hard-fought match to bow out of the tourney.
Cyclone heavyweight Tommie Peed forfeited his consolation match to Tai-County’s Benton Gustafson due to an injury.
Two more OC seniors are still alive in the tournament, as Clay Thiele takes on Winside’s Micheal Jensen in the 195-pound semifinals, and Donaven Nolze faces Peyton Cole of Archbishop Bergan at 220 tonight at 5 p.m.
After a 1-1 day on the opening day of the Class D state wrestling tournament, Neligh-Oakdale’s Brock Kester and Jayden Arehart kept their seasons alive with a win on Friday morning.
Kester scored a third-period pin over South Loup’s Logan Peterson at 113 pounds, while Jayden Arehart pinned Palmer’s Chad Samuelson in the second period at 170.
Colton Klabenes (220), Dawson Kaup (195) and Kaleb Pofahl (170) each saw their tournament runs come to an end with a loss in the consolation bracket.
Kester faces Nathaniel Murillo of Morrill, while Arehart takes on North Platte St. Patrick’s Talon McGill at 5 p.m. with a spot in the consolation semifinals on the line.
After winning a thrilling girls subdistrict final against county foe Elgin Public/Pope John on Thursday, Elkhorn Valley is one win away from state.
The 22-4 Lady Falcons earned the #10 seed and will face 20-4 Lawrence-Nelson, the #7 seed, in the D1-7 district final on Friday, Feb. 22. Tip off is set for 7 p.m. in Central City.
Coaches and players on both sides thought it would be a battle. And they were right.
It came down to the final seconds of the game, but Elkhorn Valley was able to hold off Elgin Public/Pope John to win the D1-7 subdistrict in Battle Creek on Thursday night, 44-42.
“We knew going into this game, it was going to be a dogfight,” EV senior Hannah Ollendick said.
Falcon Coach Brendan Dittmer said the all-Antelope County clash was the game he was expecting it would be.
“It was going to be a game of runs,” Dittmer said. “I told our girls that we have to withstand their runs because they’re a good shooting team. They maybe didn’t show that Tuesday night, but I knew Elgin well enough that they were going to come out and be able to shoot the ball well. It was a game of runs and whoever had the ball last was going to win.”
The teams traded buckets as soon as the game began. Kaylee Ramold netted the first points with a putback for EPPJ to take the early 2-0 lead. EV’s Amber Miller promptly answered with a triple. Kirsten Krebs hit a jumper to regain the lead 4-3. Falcon Kaylee Bacon went 1-2 at the line to knot it up 4-all. On the next trip down the court, Ally Wemhoff scored on a putback to give EPPJ a 6-4 advantage. Ollendick was fouled and went a perfect 2-2 at the line to tie it up again. Carney Black scored on a putback and then on an and-one to give EV an 11-6 lead. EPPJ’s Lexi Bode added a putback to cut the lead to 3. Sierra Rystrom swiped a steal and passed it down court to Ollendick for an easy bucket. Ollendick added a field goal on the next possession for a 15-8 lead, but EPPJ made a late quarter surge with Wemhoff connecting on a free throw and a layup and Ally Selting adding another two. At the end of the first 8 minutes of play, EV led 15-13.
Heading into the second, Grace Rittscher hit back-to-back shots, first a triple and then a field goal, to give EPPJ an 18-15 lead. Rystrom answered with a field goal, Ollendick converted an and-one and Miller nailed a jumper to give EV a 22-18 lead. Ramold hit a jumper for EPPJ to cut the lead to two. To finish out the half, EV’s Ollendick hit a bucket and Rystrom scored on a putback, and EPPJ’s Rittscher went 3-4 at the line. The Lady Falcons led at the break, 26-23.
EV’s Bacon hit a bucket for a 5-point advantage at the start of the third quarter, but Wemhoff cut into that lead with a steal for a layup and a free throw. Miller dropped a trey and later added a free throw, and Ollendick drained a jumper to put EV up, 34-26, heading into the final quarter.
But EPPJ wasn’t done yet. Krebs went 2-2 at the line to cut the lead to six. Ollendick went 1-2 at the charity stripe for a 35-28 EV advantage. Ramold netted a jumper and Wemhoff sped in for a layup to trim EV’s lead down to three. Ollendick added a couple free throws, but Wemhoff retaliated with an and-one. EPPJ trailed 37-35 midway through the quarter. A timeout was called and the crowd got loud as fans stood, shouting cheers for their teams. Rittscher came out and drilled a triple and Wemhoff went 2-2 at the line to give EPPJ a 40-37 advantage with about 1:30 to play. Black hit a clutch three-pointer to knot it up, 40-all. Ollendick went 1-2 at the line to regain the lead for EV with about one minute left. EPPJ was forced to foul and Olivia Nall went 2-2 with 29 seconds left to give EV a 43-40 lead. EPPJ’s Selting hit a jumper to cut the lead to one, 43-42. Nall went 1-2 at the line with just 3 seconds left, and a long EPPJ heave from the backcourt fell short at the buzzer.
Ollendick led all scorers with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Rounding out EV’s scoring were Miller 9, Black 8, Rystrom 4 and Nall and Bacon 3 apiece.
EPPJ was led by Wemhoff with 15 points, followed by Rittscher with 11, Ramold 6, Krebs and Selting 4 each and Bode 2.
“I’ve been coaching 16 years now, and I don’t care if we’re 0-8 or if we have an undefeated record, I always instill in our girls that we’re going to fight,” EPPJ Coach Randy Eisenhauer said. “We’re going to battle. I don’t care if we’re down 30 or up 30, I want to see that same fight. They did it again tonight. We were down 8 in that fourth quarter and they pounded right back. We fought and we were right there at the end.”
The Falcon coach said he was happy with his team’s fight as well.
“I was really happy because there was a lot of chins to the chest and looking down at the floor when shots weren’t falling,” Dittmer said. “So for us to battle back from that, it shows a lot of fortitude. Our girls just found a way and Carney Black hit a huge three for a freshman.”
The 22-4 Lady Falcons will advance to the district final on Friday, Feb. 22. Coach Dittmer said there are a few unknown factors at this point, but their opponent and location should be revealed this Friday.
The Elkhorn Valley wrestling squad had an up and down opening day at the Class D state wrestling tournament Thursday at Omaha’s CHI Health Center Arena.
EV is currently fourth in the team standings with 33 points, behind Amherst (46.5), Plainview (52) and Archbishop Bergan (52.5).
Three Falcons went a perfect 2-0 to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
Sophomore Hunter Bennett scored a pair of victories at 106 pounds.
“It feels really good to get a medal this year,” Bennett stated. “I’m really looking forward to wrestling Logan Russell. I feel like it will be a really good match for me.”
Last year’s 145-pound champion, Josh McFarland, picked up right where he left off last year, recording two pins at 160 pounds.
“It feels good, but I still have to wrestle good, wrestle tough and wrestle good if I want to keep pushing forward if I want to win those matches,” McFarland commented.
Senior Christian Yaw earned two hard-fought victories to advance to the heavyweight semifinals. After picking up a 4-2 decision over Meridian’s Zacharia Kerwood, Yaw took on Southwest’s Logan Kircher in the quarterfinals. Yaw found himself in first-period hole, but locked up a headlock and recorded a pin in the second period.
“I knew I had to stay in it,” Yaw recalled. “Just because you’re down by any means, doesn’t mean you’re going to lose that match. I knew I had time and the kid wasn’t rushing as much. I had better conditioning than him. I stayed in the match, kept a positive attitude and came out on top. I’m happy to be here. I’m a first-time state qualifier and now a state placer. That’s crazy. I have to keep going and can’t stop here.”
Despite taking seven wrestlers to the meet, four Falcons are a loss away from being eliminated from the tournament. Adam Miller (120), Prestin Vondra (145) and Mitchell Petersen (160) each lost in the opening round, while Brock Schaecher won his opener before losing to Friend’s Edwen Baptista in the quarterfinals, 17-6.
The consolation rounds begin Friday morning at 9:30 a.m., while the semifinals are scheduled for 5 p.m.
Two Neligh-Oakdale seniors picked up a pair of victories Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Class D state wrestling tournament at Omaha’s CHI Health Center Arena.
Cameron Wilkinson and Andrew Herley each went 2-0 in their respective weight classes.
Herley scored two pins at 132 pounds and is a win away from a return to state championship match.
"I think i performed pretty good today,” Herley noted. "I just went out on the mat and wrestled my match and how I know how to wrestle. I feel like there is a great chance I'll be in the finals again and that is a great feeling to have."
Wilkinson opened the day with a pin over Hay Springs’ Austin Anderson, and followed it up with a major decision over Winside’s Cayden Ellis, 10-1.
"I think I performed well," Wilkinson stated. "My weight cut was good and my body has felt the best it has in a long time. I just have to wrestle my best and hopefully it all unfolds in my favor.”
In his first appearance at the state meet, Jayden Arehart (170) scored a second-period pin over Nebraska Christian’s Carl Mundt in his opener. Arehart fell in the quarterfinals to Amherst’s Jarin Potts, 4-2.
Brock Kester (113) also went 1-1 on Thursday. Kester won 8-2 over Sutherland’s Jon Peterka in the first round, before losing to Plainview’s Scott Ashburn in overtime.
Kaleb Pofahl (170), Dawson Kaup (195) and Colton Klabenes (220) each lost their opening match.
The consolation rounds begin Friday morning at 9:30 a.m., while the semifinals are scheduled for 5 p.m.
Two of the four Clearwater/Orchard wrestlers are guaranteed at least a place no worse than sixth after going 2-0 in Thursday's opening day of the Class D state wrestling tournament at Omaha's CHI Health Center Arena.
Senior Clay Thiele and Donaven Nolze won both their opening round and quarterfinal matches to advance to Friday's semifinals.
After recording a second-period pin in his 195-pound first round match, Thiele had a tough matchup with Medicine Valley's Austin Wolfe. Wolfe tried to outmuscle Thiele, put the senior Cyclone hit a couple of headlocks and scored a third-period fall.
"It was one of those strength matches where he might have had the strength, but I knew how to counter it," Thiele stated. "To know when to go down or how to handle the situation when he's trying to strength you. I cam out victorious and it's all there is."
Nolze got off to a hot start in the tournament, scoring two falls on his way to the 220-pound semis.
"After winning districts, I knew I was in a good spot," Nolze commented. "Today's competition wasn't the greatest, but it's still competition and you still have to do your best."
OC senior Codey Snider fell to Hay Spring's Bryce Running Hawk, 3-1, in his 182-pound opener. It took an ultimate tiebreaker to determine a winner, as Running Hawk scored a reversal to pick up the win.
Cyclone heavyweight Tommie Peed was unable to compete due to injury and forfeited his match.
Snider will wrestle Friday morning at 9:30 a.m., while Thiele and Nolze compete in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m.
"It's good that I'm at least going to come home with some hardware," Nolze concluded. "But I'm not stopping there and I want to keep going."
Elgin Public/Pope John advanced to the D1-7 girls subdistrict final with a 48-39 win over Neligh-Oakdale on Tuesday night.
Second-seed EPPJ will play #1 Elkhorn Valley in the 7 p.m. final in Battle Creek, while the 5-17 Lady Warriors saw their season draw to a close.
"They are such a great group of kids," N-O Coach Christy Knutson said. "It's just been such a joy to see the improvement, see them gain confidence and work as a team. I'm just so proud of all of them. We'll really miss Haley (Kerkman) next year."
Coach Randy Eisenhauer said his team came out firing and captured an 8-0 lead, but then got "a bit sluggish." Neligh-Oakdale went on to score 7 straight to trail by just one at the end of the first. The teams came out trading buckets in the second, but a Claire Whitesel jumper gave N-O their first lead, 11-10. EPPJ's Kayce Kallhoff drilled a trey to regain the lead, but 2 free throws by Paige Furstenau put the Lady Warriors back out front. Kallhoff hit a field goal to give EPPJ the advantage again. N-O freshman Emma Boggs connected on an and-one right before the break to knot it at the half, 18-18.
The third quarter started out with more see-saw scoring as Furstenau hit a jumper for the Lady Warriors and Kaylee Ramold answered for the Lady Wolfpack.
"We got kind of comfortable and that's something we talk about all the time, not settling, not getting comfortable," Eisenhauer said. "And then they tied it up and I called time out. I kind of got after them a little bit and the girls responded with a greater intensity level and then they took off."
Trinity Kurpgeweit went 1-2 at the line and Haley Kerkman went 2-2 to complete the Lady Warriors' third quarter scoring, while EPPJ went on a run to take their biggest lead of the game. Kirsten Krebs drained two triples, Ramold drove in for two, Kallhoff hit a trey and a free throw and Grace Rittscher converted on an and-one for the Lady Wolfpack for a 35-23 advantage heading into the final quarter. The N-O girls actually outscored EPPJ in the fourth, but the deficit was too great to overcome as they fell by seven.
"Everything we've been working on all year just kind of came together tonight," Knutson said. "They gave everything they had. Elgin's a good team and to lose by 20 points the first time and then now to stay with them, that was our goal and the girls did well."
Frey led the Lady Warriors with 12 points and 8 boards, followed by Kerkman, Kurpgeweit and Furstenau with 7 apiece and Boggs and Whitesel with 3 each.
Eisenhauer said his team struggled with N-O's man-to-man switching at first.
"Then we went to a little different offense and we were able to get to the hole," he said. "But give them credit, they changed up a few things on us and their girls played well."
A balanced scoring attack by EPPJ was led by Rittscher with 11, Krebs 10, Kallhoff 9, Ramold 8, Allyson Wemhoff 5, Ally Selting 3 and Lexi Bode 2.