|For third time in four years, Lady Broncos heading back to Lincoln|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 03 March 2016 15:56|
Team members (front row, l to r) Lanee Nordhausen, Reagan Skow, Faith Simspon, Destiny Beacham, Natalie Ramirez, (back row, l to r) Kenna Blackman, Colby Cox, Cameo Rector, Ellie Lee, Tryssta Duvel, Jayden Ingold, Monique Gooden, Dakota Ingold and Alejandra Almanza pose with their district championship plaque. (Diane Stamm | Johnson Publications)
By Diane Stamm
The Wauneta Breeze
After a one-year absence the Wauneta-Palisade girls’ basketball team will return to the state tournament following the Broncos 32-30 win over Wilcox-Hildreth in the D2-4 district championship game.
WP got off on the right foot when Faith Simpson kicked off the game with four-unanswered points.
The Falcons cut the lead in half, but a layup Colby Cox kept the lead at four points, 6-2, with two minutes left in the first corner.
The Broncos responded to a three-pointer by Wilcox-Hildreth with baskets by C. Cox and Simpson. The Broncos led 10-5 at the end of the quarter.
Wilcox-Hildreth scored the first four points of the second quarter. A basket by Simpson with only a minute gone in the quarter would be the Broncos only basket for the next five minutes. By the time halftime rolled around WP was trailing 14-22.
“At halftime we talked about being down by eight and what it would take to battle back,” Coach Cox said. “First on that list was only allowing one shot attempt from WH each possession. In the first half we gave up a ton of backside rebounds and had three-unforced turnovers in a row before we crossed half court.”
Coach Cox said he reminded the team that it was going to take multiple possessions to turn the game around.
The Broncos came out cold to start the second half, however, and fell further behind in the third quarter. The team went scoreless over the first 3:49 of the half and trailed 14-26.
WP didn’t fold, however, and finished the quarter with a flurry, jump started by a Simpson block and layup.
C. Cox hit two three-pointers around a Simpson free throw to cut the gap to 23-26.
Back-to-back buckets by Simpson gave WP a 27-26 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Wilcox-Hildreth didn’t score for the final six minutes of the third quarter and the Bronco defense kept the Falcons off the scoreboard for almost four minutes in the fourth quarter.
A free throw by Simpson put WP up by two points. With three minutes left Wilcox-Hildreth tied the game at 28 points.
A layup by C. Cox made the score 30-28, but the Falcons tied the score at 30 with one minute left.
With 28.7 seconds left, C. Cox toed the line and made one-of-two free throws. At the other end, Wilcox-Hildreth missed a chance to take the lead. C. Cox was fouled with 4.8 seconds left and once more made one-of-two free throws to wrap up the game.
Coach Cox said the deficit was a pretty big mountain to climb, especially in a game that finished with a 32-30 score.
“You just keep trying to preach: play tough defense, block out perfectly, and stay in attack mode on offense,” Coach Cox said. “But the in the end players have to make plays and we made just enough to battle back.”
Simpson finished with a double-double, 18 points and 17 rebounds. Simpson also had four blocks and three steals.
C. Cox scored 14 points and had two assists.
Ellie Lee nabbed four steals. Lee, Cameo Rector and Reagan Skow each grabbed four rebounds.
“I want to recognize the fact that I subbed Faith out for about 30 seconds in the second half and that was all the breaks those starting five had all while running full and half-court pressures,” Coach Cox said. “They all played with a ton of heart and desire because there was no way they had any legs left in the fourth quarter. In the end, they were running strictly on the will to not be defeated and reach that final goal of playing in a state tournament.”
Coach Cox added that, although Simpson and C. Cox scored all WP’s points, the work “Cameo and Ellie were doing on those wings in our half-court trap and Regan blocking out like I know she can on every possession was the difference in the game and it saved the season.”
WP is seeded eighth heading into Thursday’s game against top-seeded Falls City Sacred Heart (24-1).
The game will begin at 8 a.m. MT/9 a.m. CT at Lincoln Southwest.
The Broncos enter the tournament with a 16-9 record.
Four of WP’s losses came to Class D1 state qualifiers Dundy County-Stratton (22-1) and Cambridge (19-5).
Coach Cox says FCSH is a very talented team with a deep bench.
Bronco fans may remember some of the Irish players from the 2014 match up at the state tournament.
Four of FCSH’s starters scored in the 2014 game, including Maggie Goltz, a 6’1” senior, who is leading the Irish in scoring this season. Four of the five starters are 5’10” or taller.
The Irish enter the tournament hoping to repeat as state champions.
“Any time a one seed faces an eight seed you have to be prepared to make the easy shots and not allow second shots on the defensive end,” Coach Cox said. “The girls are excited and these seniors have been down three times so I’m going to look to them for some leadership to keep Colby, Faith and Reagan from getting too amped up. But they are all really focused and hopefully play well without looking like we were content to just be there.”