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Nebraska high school girls basketball state tournament: Four small-school champions crowned

Classes C1 and C2 and DI and D2 all played title games Saturday
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The title games in Nebraska's four smaller high school girls basketball  classifications were played Saturday. See below for a recap on those championships. 

Pender wins girls D-1 title in low-scoring battle

After getting a taste of championship glory last season in Class C-2, Pender decided it needed more, capturing its second-straight championship Saturday morning in Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena over Southern Valley with a 39-25 win.

This time, it was in Class D-1, and is the third title for Pender girls basketball.

Maya Dolliver scored a game-high 16 points and managed the court for her squad. Hadley Walsh and Avery Wegner both netted nine.

Pender, the top seed in Class D-1, finishes the season with a 28-1 record.

“We didn’t really know what to expect,” head coach Jason Dolliver said. “Southern Valley is an unfamiliar opponent so we did our best to prepare and get ready for them.”

Dolliver said there was a focus on three things, which if done right would help secure the win.

“We want to play great defense, rebound and work well together on both ends of the court.”

Lincoln Christian defends its way to girls C-1 championship

Stingy defense propelled Lincoln Christian to a 38-26 win over Sidney during Saturday’s Class C-1 championship.

Sidney scored six or fewer points in the first three quarters of play, before stringing together a few baskets late but ultimately falling short.

Mattea Kassebaum went 15-for-18 from the free throw line, setting a Class C-1 tournament record. All of her points were from the charity stripe. Kennadee Hiles had 13 rebounds and five points.

The Crusaders, losing just two games during a 25-2 season, redeemed their 57-54 loss to Sidney in January. The win is the LC’s first girls basketball title since 2017.

LC head coach Scott Klein praised his team’s effort.

“The first half we were really good defensively,” Klein said. “We played Sidney in January, so we kind of knew what they would do.”

Class C-2 Yutan wins first state championship

Yutan girls sports have seen much success at Yutan over the past 10 years, but reaching the highest level in basketball has eluded the Chieftains.

That is, until Saturday.

The No. 1 Chieftains beat No. 3 Crofton 55-36 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena. Scoring bursts made all the difference for Yutan. In the first quarter, it outscored Crofton 17-6, and came out of halftime and went on a 19-7 scoring run.

Utilizing a 1-3-1 defensive scheme, Yutan stifled any semblance of an offensive attack from the Warriors. Yutan shot 43 percent from the floor, which isn’t fantastic, but limited Crofton to a meager 27 percent shooting.

Crofton coach Clay Carlton was impressed with his defensive – and overall – effort.

“It was a big deal to kind of just slow them down,” Carlton said. “I girls did a great job and executed everything today, and I think saved the best game of the year for the last game of the year.

Mylee Tichota scored a game-high 19 points for the Chieftains.

Class D-2 Overton knocks of Wynot in final

Overton, in its first state tournament appearance since 2005, was crowned with its first state championship Saturday evening, knocking off Wynot 44-40 inside of Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The night game, tipping off around 8:15 pm, concluded the four-day championship series held in Lincoln.

Wynot was no stranger to its surroundings, having been crowned champ in Class D-2 eight times. But on this night, Overton was able to prevail.

Leading the Eagles in scoring was Natalie Wood, who netted 14 points. She also pulled down 23 boards for Overton, which finished the season 28-1. Wynot finishes 22-3.

Wynot jumped out to a 20-11 lead before the break, but Overton was able to weather the storm, stay composed and do what needed to be done.

Players during a postgame conference spoke of the support shown from their friends, family and town in general. Small town support is huge, they said.

Head coach Janessa Bergman said her squad got off a little slow, and that nerves likely had something to do with that. She noted, though, how pleased she was with the response.

“Our girls fought back and kind of settled into it,” she said postgame. “... We were able to get the ball inside and then hit some key outside shots to give us the lead in the second quarter.”

--Sam Pimper | @SBliveNeb