LINCOLN — Imagine a movie. Five seconds left in overtime; score tied. The team's second-leading scorer casts up a 3-pointer to break a tie and win the state championship.
Switch to slow motion and zoom in on the ball gliding toward the rim. But no, this ball falls harmlessly to the hardwood. The score remains 49-49. For Katie Placke, a junior for Grand Island Northwest, there was a sinking feeling.
“Keep your head up,” coach Mike Herzberg told his 5-foot-11 junior. “You will get the next one to fall.”
And she did.
With 20 seconds gone in the second overtime, Placke fired up another 3-pointer to give the Vikings a three-point lead. It matched Northwest's biggest lead and was only the third time in the game the 25-3 Vikings were on top.
Herzberg said the shot changed the momentum and set the stage for Northwest's 62-51 Class B state championship victory over Norris.
“We kept scrapping and crawling to stay in it,” Herzberg said. “And in girls basketball, a 3-point shot is like a dunk in boys basketball” for changing momentum.
It was like a dagger in the Titans' balloon. The Vikings made eight straight free throws, two of them by Placke, before Norris could score again.
But it was a bit repetitious for Placke and some of her teammates, who also won a state championship in volleyball. Placke was the setter on that team.
“We all have our times,” Placke said after she and teammates cut down nets and collected their second championship trophy.
She attributed the success to concentration. “Both championship games came down to the end,” Placke said. “We just stayed focused. We knew what we had to do.”
Even when down 14 late in the third quarter, the Vikings remained calm.
Herzberg attributed some of that poise to the experience of some of the girls playing big games in volleyball.
“These girls love being in big-time situations,” he said.
For Placke, it is now on to the next thing — track. Last year, as a sophomore, she qualified for the state meet. Then it's on to camps and workouts in the summer. Then there is next season for volleyball and basketball, sports in which she and many of her teammates will be returning champions. Placke, who scored 20 points Saturday night, and teammate McKenzie Brown, who scored 25, will be back.
Can they do it again?
“I sure hope so,” Placke said.
Contact the writer: