LINCOLN - - The Ansley Lady Warriors and Sandhills Lady Knights qualified for the 2012 NSAA Championships that are set to commence Thursday morning
The two Loup Valley Conference schools won't be competing in the same class. Ansley qualified in D2 and Sandhills/Thedford cashed in their ticket at the D1 level.
In the eight team bracket, Sandhills/Thedford (21-4) qualified as seed No. 7. The Lady Knights will take on No. 2 Hitchcock County (23-1) in the opening round. The match-up is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Lincoln Southwest High School.
Ansley (22-2) qualified as seed No. 4.
The Lady Warriors will take on No. 5 Howells (21-4).
Game time is 10:45 a.m. at Lincoln Southeast High School.
For a full 2012 championship bracket, see page B4.
NORTH PLATTE - - Sandhills/Thedford used a second-half surge to topple Sutherland 51-36, and in the process qualifying for the state tournament.
For the Lady Knights, things started a little slow.
The Lady Sailors did a good job of controlling the pace and S/T found it difficult to score on a consistent basis and found themselves looking at an early 11-5 first quarter deficit.
The second quarter was much of the same as the Lady Knights had a hard time scoring points. However, the Lady Knights defense improved and kept Sutherland from extending their lead.
Sutherland outscored Sandhills/Thedford 8-7 in the second quarter and the Lady Knights were looking at a 19-12 deficit at halftime.
Just when it looked like Sutherland was primed for a second half run, the Lady Knights had a different plan, and that plan was senior Shelby Saner.
After being a non-factor in the first half, Saner found her offensive grove and entering the fourth quarter S/T found themselves up 29-24.
The Lady Knights didn't become complacent and kept the foot on the throttle.
S/T again would feed the ball inside to Saner and the Lady Knights outscored Sutherland 22-12 and clinched their spot in Lincoln.
According to Head Coach Scott Leisy, his team didn't change a thing at halftime. "Really, we didn't do anything different at halftime. We told the girls we were getting the looks we wanted to get, and we just needed someone to break the ice," Leisy said. "We turned the game over to hoping they would miss jump shots, and they did, and we found a way to get the ball inside. What won the game was our ability to step to the free-throw line and make our shots and extend the lead each time. We did not change anything offensively in the second half, we just executed better, especially getting the ball inside."
Now standing in their way, a talented Hitchcock County squad.
"They are a very talented team, and have one of the best players in class D1 in Laramie Lewis. We are going to have our hands full, but we fully believe we can win," Leisy said. "I do think we have an advantage inside, and if we can get into the half court and execute, we have a great chance to win. We are going to have to play a good game, however, as they are 24-1 for a reason. It should be a great game, as both teams deserve to be in Lincoln!"
HERSHEY - - After a slow first quarter, Ansley regrouped and trounced Wauneta-Palisade 58-28, and return to the state tournament for the second year in a row.
As the game started out, it looked like the Lady Warriors were going to be in for a close game, only outscoring the Broncos 9-6.
However, the second quarter would prove to be a different story.
Ansley found their mojo and went on an offensive tear, outscoring W/P 30-6. Ansley would take a 39-12 halftime lead, and the Lady Warriors wouldn't look back.
Ansley outscored W/P 10-9 in the third quarter and 10-7 in the fourth quarter en route to the win and state championship berth.
"We started slow, but had a great second quarter," Coach Travis Olson said. "Our defense was able to lead to a few easy scores and Kate Watts had 10 offensive rebounds alone."
Siera Rohde scored a game-high 20 points. Katie Drake chipped in 18 points, Courtney Marsh dropped in 9 points and Kara Ostrand and Kate Watts scored four points.
MINDEN - - Going into the district finals there was a possibility Ansley and Litchfield-- co-op to start this year in track-- would meet as opponents one last time at the state tournament
However, Giltner made sure that would not happen and defeated the Lady Trojans 53-26.
The Hornets controlled momentum early, outscoring Litchfield 12-5 in the first quarter.
However, Litchfield turned things around in the second quarter, and fought Giltner basket-for-basket, and were down 24-14 at halftime.
Giltner came out at halftime and crushed any momentum Litchfield had, outscoring the Lady Trojans 17-8.
The Hornets would outscore Litchfield 12-8 in the fourth quarter to close out the win.
"We didn't play badly the first half," Coach James Habe said. "We just couldn't hit our open shots and sink our free throws; it just snowballed from there in the second half."
Lindsy Siegel was the leading scorer with 8 points and Falicia Shepardon helped out with 6 points.
BASSETT - - Wynot capitalized on numerous Mullen turnovers and crushed Mullen 74-32.
Wynot jumped out to a 34-12 lead and that's the closest Mullen would come.
"Very impressive ball pressure from Wynot," coach Ryan Ridenour said. "They are very good, and it is easy to see why they are the defending champions."
Clara Vinson scored six points to lead the Lady Broncos.