Her team’s knack for falling behind before rallying in the second half is tough on Elkhorn coach Jennifer Wragge.
But you certainly can’t argue with the final result Saturday — a 54-47 victory over Class B No. 1 Waverly in the Eastern Midlands Conference tournament final. The game at Bennington High preceded the boys tourney final, won by the host Badgers 56-43 over Norris.
“We’re good at digging holes but we really fight back,” Wragge said. “But it’s still pretty hard on my heart.”
The Antlers followed that pattern throughout the tourney to repeat as champions. They trailed Gretna by six at halftime Thursday and fell behind Norris by 13 at half Friday before storming back to victory.
Elkhorn fell behind Waverly by 11 in the second quarter before turning the game around, outscoring the previously unbeaten Vikings 20-3 in the third quarter.
“Being behind doesn’t bother this team one bit,” Wragge said. “I think a lot has to do with our senior leadership.”
The victory avenged an 11-point home loss suffered against Waverly one week earlier.
“I thought last week that they outhustled us to every loose ball,” Wragge said. “We also had more people contributing offensively this time.”
Waverly still led by seven at halftime, but Elkhorn’s dominant third period was the difference. The Antlers sank five 3-pointers to turn the deficit into a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Vikings closed to four late in the game but never had the possession to possibly tie it.
“They had some girls step up and hit some 3s,” Waverly coach John Cockerill said. “And we needed to hit more of our shots.”
The Vikings were 1 for 11 from the field in the quarter, going almost seven minutes before Averie Lambrecht’s layup.
The setback ended Waverly’s run as the last unbeaten team in Class B.
Kailee Lawrence led Elkhorn with 13 points, including four 3-pointers. She scored seven in the third quarter and nailed a trey in the fourth quarter after Waverly had closed to 39-34.
“She came to play,” Wragge said. “She was shooting with a lot of confidence.”
Sydni Schernikau paced the Vikings with 15 points while Tyza Hoos had 14.
“I’m still trying to figure this team out,” Wragge said. “But I think we found our identity today.”
Elkhorn (12-4) 9 8 20 17—54
Waverly (15-1) 10 14 3 20—47
E: Liberty Donahoe 8, Kailee Lawrence 13, Payton Jakopovic 12, Reilly Palmer 7, Maddy Meehan 11, Tia Murray 3.
W: Sydni Schernikau 15, Averie Lambrecht 6, Alex Danson 4, Abigail Clarke 4, Julia Martin 2, Ellie Bream 2, Tyza Hoos 14.
Bennington tops Norris in rematch of last year to repeat as EMC tourney champs
The Badgers pulled away in the second half after the visiting Titans had taken a one-point lead early in the third quarter.
Bennington led by 13 in the second quarter before Norris came to life, going on a 10-0 run. Jay Knudsen had eight points in the quarter as the Titans trailed by one at halftime.
Baskets by Harrison Boe and Aidan Oerter allowed Norris to take a short-lived lead before the Badgers bounced back. Nick Bohn had three baskets in the third quarter as Bennington took the lead for good.
The Badgers closed strong, outscoring Norris 16-7 in the final quarter. Grady Corrigan scored six of his game-high 14 points down the stretch as Bennington won the tourney for the second straight year.
Coach Luke Olson’s squad also defeated the Titans in the final last year, prevailing in overtime.
“They’re a good team and their record is deceiving,” Olson said. “They definitely make you earn your points.”
Norris (6-10) reached the final after posting upset wins over Blair (50-47) and Gretna (43-27).
“It’s huge for us to make this final,” Titans coach Matt Shelsta said. “We hate the loss, but it’s a pretty big deal to get here.”
Shelsta, whose father, Terry, was the longtime boys basketball coach at Omaha Benson, credited his team for fighting back from a double-digit deficit.
“Our guys didn’t give up,” he said. “We kept battling but we had some lulls on offense and that hurt us.”
Bennington won without a big game from either of its top two scorers, Cooper Prososki and Karson Gansebom. Combined they average 33 points but Prososki had 10 and Gansebom nine.
Olson said repeating as tourney champion was an important step for the Badgers, who moved to 13-3.
“It means a lot to us,” he said. “It’s a privilege to play in the final and our guys are excited to have won it again.”
Norris (6-10) 10 17 9 7—43
Bennington (13-3) 21 7 12 16—56
N: Kixten Misko 3, Jay Knudsen 12, Skyler Schwaniger 8, Harrison Bow 6, Aidan Oerter 2, Cade Rice 5, C.J. Hood 3, Connor Price 4.
B: Ethan Harding 5, Grady Corrigan 14, Nick Bohn 8, Karson Gansebom 9, Tyler LeClair 5, Cooper Prososki 10, Brayden Oborny 5.