GRAND ISLAND -- A few sniffles weren’t going to slow McKenzie Brown down too much.
The Northwest junior didn’t have the same kind of offensive night Tuesday that she has been having, but her teammates more than picked up the slack as the Class B No. 3 Vikings took control early and cruised to a 62-14 victory over Central City in a Central Conference Tournament quarterfinal Tuesday night at Northwest High School.
Brown scored 14 points, the final three coming on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter.
That shot made Brown the first player in Northwest girls basketball history to surpass the 1,000-point mark for a career.
“I think it means a lot to everybody because it’s like a team thing,” Brown said of the milestone. “All the girls help out with assists. They’re the ones who make the passes so I can score, so I think it just means a lot to everyone.”
Northwest coach Mike Herzberg said Brown deserves all the accolades she gets.
“She’s an outstanding young lady who has worked extremely hard and put in tons and tons of time and effort, not just between November and April,” Herzberg said. “She does things year around. She’s special because of her work ethic and her desire to be successful, so it’s a credit to her, but it’s also a great credit to our team.
“That’s what has made us so tough to defend because we’re so unselfish with the ball. So there are nights she will get her big scoring nights, but we also have other players who can score as well.”
The Vikings (15-1) showed that against Central City (9-9). Northwest had 26 field goals and 24 assists for the game. Brown led Northwest with seven assists while Katie Placke had six.
“That’s a perfect example of unselfishness and our ability to see the floor, and then we did a great job of finishing,” Herzberg said. “They truly believe in one, a single heartbeat, and that’s been so great to be a part of.”
Brown agreed that the Vikings are a close-knit team.
“We have really connected this year,” Brown said. “We know where we’re going to be on the floor and that helps out a lot. We read each other really well.”
Brown admitted to being a bit under the weather. The Vikings had a team meal Monday night at Brown’s house, and she went right to bed when the meal was over.
Brown wasn’t about going to let a cold keep her out of the game.
“You have to forget about being sick and play,” Brown said.
Herzberg never had any doubts that she would be on the court Tuesday night.
“She’s a great leader, sometimes verbally and sometimes just by her work ethic,” Herzberg said. “We have seen that through her whole career, and it’s amazing that she’s just a junior. All of us have bought into team. It hasn’t been about McKenzie Brown. It’s been about Lady Vikings’ basketball, so she feels just as good when somebody else scores as we feel when she scores.”
Erin Sorahan also had 14 points for Northwest while Kaley Werner added 12.
The Vikings were red-hot from the field connecting on 26-of-33 shots (78 percent). They were 7-for-12 from 3-point territory with Brown leading the way at 4-for-5.
Northwest certainly impressed Central City coach Dan Negus.
“I think they’re as good as advertised,” Negus said. “We struggled with their pressure and we didn’t compete as well as I thought maybe we could coming out.”
Central City entered the game on a four-game winning streak and had won eight of its last 10.
“We’ve been playing well. We’ve been playing hard,” Negus said. “We felt we were kind of ready to see where we’re at. I think it showed we have a lot of work to do to compete with teams like this.”
The win moves Northwest into a Central Conference Tournament semifinal game at 6 p.m. Thursday at Aurora against Crete.
Northwest 62, Central City 14
CENTRAL CITY (9-9)
Benner 2-4 3-6 7, Maresh 0-2 0-0 0, Fousek 1-9 0-0 2, Janky 0-3 0-2 0, Tvrdy 0-2 0-0 0, Wilhusen 0-2 0-0 0, Lenz 0-0 0-0 0, Knight 0-0 0-0 0, Schnitzler 0-0 0-0 0, Spencer 0-0 0-0 0, Gathje -24 1-4 5, Schnabal 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 5-29 4-10 14.
Werner 5-6 1-1 12, Placke 3-5 0-0 7, Sorahan 6-7 2-2 14, Brown 5-6 0-0 14, Keezer 4-4 0-0 8, Phinney 0-0 0-0 0, Rathke 0-0 0-0 0, Springer 0-1 0-0 0, Al. Fisher 0-0 0-0 0, Schleicher 0-0 0-0 0, Beckmann 0-0 0-0 0, Westphal 1-1 0-0 2, Schacher 1-2 0-0 3, Au. Fisher 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-33 3-3 62.
Central City 2 6 3 3—14
Northwest 17 15 23 7—62
3-point goals—Central City 0-10 (Wilhusen 0-1, Janky 0-2, Tvrdy 0-2, Fousek 0-5). Northwest 7-12 (Brown 4-5, Schacher 1-2, Werner 1-2, Placke 1-3). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Central City 14 (Tvrdy 3). Northwest 21 (Werner 4). Turnovers—Central City 18, Northwest 18. Total fouls—Central City 2, Northwest 9. Technicals—None.