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Nebraska high school girls basketball state tournament: Free throws give Elkhorn North fourth straight championship

The score was tied 47-47 with nine seconds left
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The Elkhorn North four-peat is complete. 

But it didn’t come easy. It was a back-and-forth game between the Wolves and Skutt Catholic -- the clear-cut best squads in Class B.

Elkhorn North's Britt Prince cuts down the net after the Wolves' victory Saturday.

Elkhorn North's Britt Prince cuts down the net after the Wolves' victory Saturday.

With the game tied 47-47 with 9 seconds left, Reese Booth went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one opportunity and sank both shots, giving her team a 49-47 lead. Skutt leader Molly Ladwig missed a jumper on the other end as time expired, solidifying the victory.

“We practice them every day, so you step up there and take a deep breath, tell myself I’ve got it, and they just went in I guess,” Booth said of her free throws.

Down nine in the second half, the Wolves never panicked and methodically clawed back into the game.

“Mental toughness, grit and perseverance – they kept believing and that’s the kind of kids they are,” Elkhorn North head coach Ann Prince said. “I believed in them, still believed they could get it done and they believed in each other.

“I told them, ‘We just have to nip away at this.’ And we did, we just kept chipping away at it and we got it done, we made enough plays. It was an ugly ballgame all around, but we made enough plays … We got the win and in the end that’s the only thing that matters.”

There were contributions from many Wolves’ players enroute to the title. Booth had eight points, McKenna Murphy notched 11 and All-Stater/five-star Nebraska comm it Britt Prince scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

During this tournament run that included wins over Scottsbluff and Beatrice, Prince Scored a total of 54 points. Her 17 Saturday placed her tournament total at 71. Prince is the second leading scorer in girls Class B history.

This was the second time the Wolves beat the SkyHawks this season. Over the course of the past three seasons, Skutt has lost a total of six games – including Saturday’s title. All these losses came at the hands of Elkhorn North, a team that has won every title and never lost a tournament game since the school's inception four years ago.

Ladwig, a junior, did everything in her power to keep her team within reach, hitting jumpers, runners and nailing finesse buckets. She finished the afternoon with a game-high 18 points. Teammate Taylor McCabe was also big for the SkyHawks, hitting multiple big 3s, including a triple that tied the game at 47 with 19 seconds remaining. She finished with 12 points.

SkyHawks head coach Kip Colony said following the game that the outcome was disappointing, but that he would remind his players it’s a learning moment and that the major desire he has for all of his seniors is to be successful in their lives, to be good people and community contributors.

With the Wolves losing Prince, Murphy and other key seniors, it wouldn’t be a shock for Skutt – who has finished runner-up three straight years – to take the next step in 2025.

But this year, it’s still the Wolves’ show. Managing game pressure late was required, Britt Prince said, to reach the ultimate goal.

“We just came together as a group, all lifting each other up,” Prince said. “We knew we could come back and we’ve done stuff like that before.

“So we just believed in each other and knew we could get it done.”

--Sam Pimper I @SBLIveNeb