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Nebraska high school girls basketball Top 25 rankings (3/9/2024)

The final rankings of the season
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The state’s best showed their true colors this last weekend at Lincoln’s Pinnacle Bank Arena. Class A and Class B games were especially competitive, with both coming down to the wire. Millard West was able to overcome and outlast Bellevue West 58-55, needing a few clutch free throws and creating turnovers to win. Elkhorn North, led by Britt Prince, overcame a 12-point second-half deficit to beat Skutt Catholic – for the third straight year – 49-47.

1. Millard West (27-1, Last Week #1) 

Neleigh Gessert scored 29 points, leading Millard West to its first Class A state championship. The Wildcats beat Bellevue West 58-55. It was a standout year for Millard West, going undefeated in Class A play. The Wildcats lone loss of the season came at the hands of Iowa power Johnston, a nationally ranked program.

2. Bellevue West (20-7, Last Week #7)

After starting the season 6-6, Bellevue West won 14 straight. Though the Thunderbirds fell to Millard West in the Class A final, they established them as the second-best team in the state. Bellevue West was the preseason No. 1 team in the state. Leading the Thunderbirds this season in scoring was senior Naomi White, netting 18 per outing.

3. Elkhorn North (25-1, Last Week #3)

With its 49-47 win over Skutt Catholic, Elkhorn North won its fourth straight Class B championship. It was the third year the Wolves prevailed over the SkyHawks in the state final. Nebraska commit Britt Prince had a double-double, netting 17 and pulling down 12 rebounds. Two Reese Booth free throws iced the game with nine seconds remaining in the contest.

4. Skutt Catholic (27-2, Last Week #4)

Skutt Catholic has lost six games over the course of the last three years, all coming at the hands of Elkhorn North. During last Saturday’s final loss, junior Molly Ladwig scored a game-high 18 points and did a little bit overthink to keep her team in the game. With North losing several key pieces, look out for Skutt Catholic next season.

5. Lincoln Southwest (22-4, Last Week #2)

Lincoln Southwest beat Lincoln Southeast 58-56 in the opening round of state before falling to 57-51 to Bellevue West in semifinals. It was a great year for the Silverhawks, who had their most impressive squad in recent memory. Kennadi Williams led Southwest in scoring this season, netting 16 points per game.

6. Lincoln North Star (20-6, Last Week #8)

North Star improved upon its finish last season, winning a game this year in the state tournament 46-31 over Millard North. The Navigators lost 59-25 to eventual champion Millard West in semifinals. Sophomore Ani Leu and junior Sarah Gatwech both return next season. This season, they averaged 15 and 13 points per game, respectively.

7. Millard North (17-8, Last Week #5)

It certainly wasn’t the showing Millard North wanted, falling to Lincoln North Star in the opening round of State. The Mustangs beat the Navigators 68-49 in February, but failed to match a semblance of the offensive output at State that they showed in February. All of North’s scoring leaders return next winter.

8. Lincoln Southeast (18-7, Last Week #11)

It was oh so close for Southeast in regard to making this year’s State semifinals, but the Knights fell short losing to rival Lincoln Southwest 58-55. The Knights beat the Silverhawks 40-37 earlier in the season and it was expected that this would be another nailbiter. That turned out to be true.

9. Papillion-La Vista South (17-8, Last Week #12)

Papio South gave a solid effort, but lost in quarterfinals 48-39 to eventual runner-up Bellevue West. After losing two straight games to Millard West and Bellevue West, the Titans won their district with wins over Millard South and a good Lincoln Northeast team. This team plays great defense and returns its leading scorers next season.

10. Omaha Central (19-7, Last Week #10)

The Eagles made it to state by beating Millard North 62-56 in the District A-4 final game. Central, at State, fell in quarterfinals 49-35 to Millard West. Millard North was one of Central’s best wins of the season. This was a talented squad, but struggled to secure wins consistently against the state’s best. Senior Inia Jones led Central in scoring, averaging about 19 points per game.

11. Lincoln Pius X (17-7, Last Week #6)

Pius got hot down the stretch this season, winning eight of its last nine games. The Thunderbolts, for the second-straight year, missed a state berth after falling 51-44 to Lincoln Southeast in the district final. Pius loses leading scorers Brynn Sebek and Sara Iburg, but returns Keeleigh Knobbe, who averaged about nine points per game.

12. Lincoln Northeast (18-7, Last Week #9)

It was a solid year for the Rockets, led by presumed all-stater Doneelah Washington. Washington averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds per game for the Rockets. Northeast fell in the district final to Papillion-La Vista South and missed out on the wildcard to State when it was secured by Millard North.

13. Marian (16-8, Last Week #14)

Marian lost to Lincoln North Star 49-37 in districts and missed out on the state tournament. Marian was a consistent presence in our top 15 this season, but struggled with consistent offensive output. Junior Elsa Vedral led Marian in scoring with 12 points per game and will return next season.

14. Bellevue East (16-8, Last Week #15)

The Chieftains had a solid year, chalking up wins over Lincoln Southwest and Millard North during the regular season. Bellevue East’s season ended in districts during a 71-58 loss to Bellevue West, a team that also beat the soundly in early February. All three of East’s leading scorers return next season, including T’Niya Wilson-Smith, who averaged 20 points per game.

15. Gretna East (19-8, Last Week #13)

Gretna East in its inaugural season made the state tournament. Definitely not too shabby. This was an athlete-rich team that played well together throughout the course of the season in Class B. The Griffins knocked off Waverly 51-37 in quarterfinals before falling to 45-28 to eventual runner-up Skutt Catholic.

16. Beatrice (19-6, Last Week #19)

Beatrice won a thrilling 50-49 game over Norris in quarterfinals before losing to Elkhorn North 59-49 in semifinals. During the Norris win, Beatrice freshman Alijah Stabler sank two free throws with 13.5 seconds remaining to give her squad the win. Norris had beat Beatrice twice in the regular season.

17. Norris (19-6, Last Week #17)

It was a tough way to go out for Norris, losing to Beatrice by one in State quarterfinals. Norris had beaten the Orangemen twice in the regular season, and we all know how tough it is to make it three straight against a good team. Grace Kohler was the scoring leader for Norris this year, netting nine per game. All three of the Titans leading scorers graduate this spring.

18. Waverly (18-5, Last Week #16)

Waverly made the State tournament by beating Bennington in districts – its third win over the Class B Badgers this season. The Vikings, though, lost to Gretna East 51-37 in State quarterfinals. Waverly was impressive this season, and notched the biggest upset in the state this year by taking down Elkhorn North in January.

19. Lincoln Christian (25-2, Last Week #24)

Lincoln Christian solidified at state what many thought – it’s this year’s best Class C-1 team. A sound defensive effort and a 15-for-18 performance at the free throw line from Mattea Kassebaum led the Crusaders to a 28-26 win over Sidney. LC beat North Bend and then Bridgeport in quarterfinals to reach the final.

20. Sidney (25-2, Last Week #21)

Sidney’s two losses this season came to Bridgeport and then Lincoln Christian in the Class C-1 championship game. The Red Raiders beat Broken Bow and Grand Island Central Catholic to reach the State finals. Sidney loses three seniors this off season, but look for this Tyler Shaw-coached squad to rebound next year.

21. Benson (13-9, Last Week #18)

Benson falls three spots in our year’s end rankings. The Bunnies were a game away from state, falling to Millard West in the District A-1 final game. It was a back-and-forth year for Benson, who was a consistent presence in our weekly top-25 rankings. Benson will miss graduating seniors Ahmani Klabunde and Jesani Green, both averaging about 13 points per game this season.

22. Scottsbluff (16-10, Last Week NR)

The Bearcats made State by beating Elkhorn in the subdistrict final game. The Bearcats went on to lose 63-44 to Elkhorn North in the opening round of the State Tournament. Scottsbluff wasn’t one of our picks to make the tournament, but won four of its last five, including a win over Class A North Platte, to get the job done.

23. South Sioux City (16-10, Last Week NR)

The Cardinals had wins over Blair and Seward to stamp their pass to state, but ran into a buzzsaw in quarterfinals against Skutt Catholic. South Sioux lost the game 66-32. The Cardinals will lose leading scorer Brooklyn Heineman, but return Bailee Durant, a sophomore this year, who scored about 13 points per game.

24. Bridgeport (27-1, Last Week #20)

It was another great regular season for Bridgeport, but once again ended in disappointment at State. For the second-straight season, the Bulldogs took third place in the losers bracket at state. They Beat Minden 65-57 before losing to eventual champion Lincoln Christian in semifinals. Olivia Loomis-Goltl, a lock for Class C-1 all state – and maybe even better – led Bridgeport with 23 points per game.

25. Papillion-La Vista (13-10, Last Week NR)

PLV started the season well, but had a midseason collapse that didn’t bode well for making State. The Monarchs were cooking in January, winning eight straight, but then lost seven of their last eight. Benson beat the Monarchs in districts to end their season. Junior Rease Murtaugh led PLV in scoring, netting about 20 points per game.

Next 5: Overton, Pender, Yutan, Grand Island Central Catholic, Adams Central