SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. -- Havannah Newens couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present.
The Mitchell High School senior, who turned 18 on Saturday, scored 24 points to help the Tigers beat Kimball 59-47 in the championship game of the Western Trails Conference Tournament at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff.
The title was the first for Mitchell since 2002, and the Tigers’ eighth overall.
“This win feels good, but it is a team thing and we all stepped up,” Newens said. “To win this is just so important for all of us. The coaches put in so much time and we put in so much. It has just been a lot of hard work and we finally got it done.”
Newens said so many different players stepped up in different roles for Mitchell throughout the game.
“This is a good all-around team win for us because Kimball is a good team. To come out and prove that we can play with these better teams is really great,” she said. “We had underclassmen step up. Kady Lower stepped up and was amazing. We played great team defense and that is our goal every game is to play good defense and that is what we did.”
Lower, a sophomore transfer from Morrill, added 16 points for Mitchell. But it was the offensive charge she took from Kimball senior Darbi Klinkhammer early in the fourth quarter that turned the momentum in the Tigers’ favor the rest of the way. The foul was Klinkhammer’s fifth.
“That ability to take the charge is about smarts and she has a knack for basketball,” Mitchell coach Brock Ehler said of Lower. “She definitely is not afraid to step in there, and that person that collides with her will know that she is a big, strong girl.
The win over Kimball helped Mitchell avenge last year’s championship-game loss to the Longhorns.
“Last year we were seeded lower, and being able to get to the championship game was huge. We were just excited to be there and losing last year was tough,” Newens said. “This year we came in and we were confident, we were prepared, and it is just a good win.”
Kimball managed to jump out to an early 7-2 lead in the first quarter and held a 13-12 advantage after the opening eight minutes.
The Longhorns extended their lead to 20-14 in the second quarter thanks to a Danika Daum 3-pointer and four points from Klinkhammer.
Kimball held a 25-24 lead at halftime.
Four points from Shelby Vogel helped Kimball push its lead to 31-27 in the third quarter. But a Newens 3-pointer and a bucket by Lower gave Mitchell a 38-35 lead after three quarter of play.
Mitchell went on an 8-3 run in the final period to take a 46-38 lead. The Tigers’ advantage grew to 10. Newens then scored nine straight points to put down any comeback attempt by the Longhorns.
Daum and Vogel led Kimball in scoring with 10 points each.
The two teams will renew acquaintances on Tuesday when Kimball visits Mitchell.
Mitchell (12-7) 12 12 14 21 – 69
Kimball (12-3) 13 12 10 12 – 47
Chalsey Grentz 8, Aspen Reifschneider 5, Kady Lower 16, Havannah Newens 24, Taylor Peters 2, Mikaela Karpen 2, Felina Blanco 2.
Darbi Klinkhammer 8, Taylor Wismer 6, Jessica Hanks 9, Kelly Green 1, Shelby Vogel 10, Brooke Hager 3, Danika Daum 10.