LINCOLN — Pleasanton coach Jordan Arensdorf stressed toughness on defense this season.
It’s a large reason the Bulldogs entered the girls state basketball tournament as the No. 2 seed in Class D-2. It’s also why they prevailed against Weeping Water, an explosive offensive team, 62-54, in the first round Thursday at Lincoln North Star.
The victory extended Pleasanton’s winning streak to 23 games. Their last loss came against South Loup on Dec. 8.
“We knew they had one of the best offenses and one of the best defenses,” Arensdorf said. “We knew something was going to have to break. I thought we played pretty good defense, especially the first half.”
The Bulldogs (26-1) held the Indians (18-9) to 29 percent shooting from the floor and forced 16 turnovers.
Sophomore guard Grace Cave caused trouble for the Pleasanton defense. She consistently attacked the basket while knocking down three 3-pointers to finish with 32 points.
She was the Indians’ lone scoring option. Peyton Barrett, who was averaging 20.2 points per game, struggled and posted 13 points. She made two 3-pointers and went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.
“You can tell they’ve played the game together for a long time,” Weeping Water coach Joel Haveman said. “It was hard to find mismatches when you have five athletes guarding you.”
The Bulldogs never trailed after Meghan Fisher broke a 24-24 tie in the opening seconds of the third quarter.
Cadee Nichols’ 3-pointer capped a 12-1 run and increased Pleasanton’s lead to 40-28 about midway through the third quarter.
Cave brought the Indians back to within single digits. She scored 14 consecutive points in the final quarter to cut Pleasanton’s lead to 56-51 with about three minutes left.
“Grace Cave is one of the best players I’ve ever coached against,” Arensdorf said. “She’s the real deal and was tough to stop.”
Pleasanton (26-1) ……………… 13 11 21 17—62
Weeping Water (18-9) ……….. 11 13 13 17—54
P: Kaci Pierce 15, Cadee Nichols 11, Isabelle Paitz 10, Katelyn Lindner 9, Meghan Fisher 9, Natalie Siegel 4, Mckenna Siegel 4.
WW: Grace Cave 32, Peyton Barrett 13, Reagan Aronson 3, Jamison Twomey 3, Brianna Lawson 2, Reba Wilson 1.