Inside the Matchups: Friday’s State Girls Basketball Semifinals


Friday’s girls basketball semifinals are set to tip off at 9 a.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena with the Class C-1 semis followed by B and A. Here’s a brief breakdown of each game.

Class C-1
Winnebago (16-10) vs. North Bend Central (22-3) at 9 a.m.

Can the No. 8 seed Winnebago Indians keep the good vibes rolling? They knocked off Malcolm on its home court in their district final, then went to Lincoln and beat the top-seeded Grand Island Central Catholic Crusaders.
Head coach Treivan Bear’s Cinderella squad is led by a tough group of seniors, including Keisha Snyder, Natasha Deal and Madeline Cleveland.

Snyder came into the tournament averaging a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. She scored 14 in the win over GICC while Deal had a team-high 16. Cleveland chipped in with nine.

No. 5 North Bend is looking to defend its state championship from last season and got off to a strong start on Wednesday with a big 50-29 win over No. 4 Broken Bow.

North Bend sophomore Kaitlyn Emanuel came into the game averaging a team-best 16 points and eight rebounds per game. In the state tournament win, she netted 25 and went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Winnebago will have its hands full with Emanuel, but there’s another one to look out for, too, in junior Sydney Emanuel — she scored 12 in the win.

Lincoln Lutheran (20-2) vs. Hastings St. Cecilia (23-2) at 11:15 a.m.

The No. 2 seed Lincoln Lutheran Warriors are at state for the second time in school history, and they made it look easy in their opening game Wednesday against Sidney, beating the Red Raiders 53-20 behind 11 points from Shanae Bergt and 10 from Katelynn Oxley.

Lutheran will need to find a way to stay in front of St. Cecilia junior Bailey Kissinger, who scored 23 of her 26 points in the first half of the No. 3-seeded Hawkettes’ 54-32 blowout victory over No. 6 Syracuse late on Wednesday.

Kissinger came into the tournament averaging 15 points and gave Syracuse all sorts of headaches. Lutheran’s defense will have a tough test in front of it against St. Cecilia, which won the C-2 state tournament a year ago.

Class B
Norris (21-2) vs. York (21-3) at 1:30 p.m.

The top-seeded Norris Titans got past No. 8 Bennington 62-41 on Tuesday and looked good doing it as they had three players — Madison Collier, Brianna Stai and Kalli Kroeker — each score 11 points.

Norris led 38-29 at halftime, but its defense really hunkered down on the Badgers’ offense and allowed just eight points in the third quarter and four in the fourth to help seal the win.

As for No. 5 York, a gritty and tough defensive performance was the star of its 31-28 win over Omaha Skutt Catholic. The Dukes owned a 19-6 edge at the break and held Skutt scoreless in the second. York wound up holding on long enough to earn the victory despite a late rally from the SkyHawks. Destiny Shepherd led the Dukes with eight points while Kiersten Portwine had six off a couple 3-pointers.

Elkhorn North (19-2) vs. Scottsbluff (19-6) at 4 p.m.

Freshman sensation Britt Prince may have had an off night shooting the ball in No. 2-seed Elkhorn North’s 35-28 win over No. 7 Omaha Gross, but she did plenty of other things to help her team win its first state tournament game in school history.

Prince scored seven points, but her teammates, junior Reilly Palmer and sophomore Hannah Nadgwick, picked up the slack with 11 points each. Nadgwick scored six of her team’s 13 points in the fourth.

Sophomore forward Sabrina Harsh was a major reason Scottsbluff got past defending state champ Crete, 34-20, on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1 Harsh scored a game-high 17 points and had over five blocks for the Bearcats. Isabella Wright came alive in the fourth to help down the Cardinals, scoring five of her seven points in the final eight minutes.

Class A
Pius X (23-0) vs. Omaha Central (23-3) at 6:15 p.m.

Pius has won 29 in a row dating back to last season. Central has won eight straight. Pius is led by seniors Alexis Markowski and Jillian Aschoff. Markowski (6-3) is a matchup nightmare for most teams. She had another double-double 14 points and 12 rebounds 40-20 quarterfinal win over Millard North.

The Eagles are the tallest team in the state with three players over six feet tall. Nya Paul (6-3) and Ital Lopuyo (6-5) will look to use their length on the defensive end to make it difficult for Markowski.

The point guard matchup between Aschoff and Central freshman Inia Jones will be key. Jones is a crafty scorer and controls the Eagles offense. Aschoff is one of the states best on ball defenders averaging 2.3 steals per game and has tremendous speed with the ball in her hands.

The game might come down to who shoots it better from distance. Pius senior wing Miriam Miller is shooting 38% from behind the arc and sophomore Adison Markowski’s 32% from range can open things up for Alexis if they are knocking down shots from distance. Junior’s Aniah Wayne led the Eagles in scoring with 19 and Aaniya Webb 17 in their 54-50 quarterfinal win over Lincoln Southwest.

Millard South (24-1) vs. Fremont (22-3) at 8:30 p.m.

If you like scoring and a game played with pace this one is for you. Millard South has scored more than 70 points in 11 games this season. Fremont has hit 70 in 15 games this season.

Guard play will dominate the game. Fremont junior Taylor McCabe is averaging 24 per game while shooting 44% from behind the arc. The Iowa commit has scored 600 points this season. Senior wing Charli Earth is averaging 12.9 per game and junior Sarah Sheppard (11.8).

The Patriots will counter with a trio of sophomores in Mya Babbitt (18.2 ppg), Cora Olsen (14.5) and Khloe Lemon (14.5). Junior guard Megan Belt is averaging 12.6 per game.

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