LINCOLN — Just like last year, Scottsbluff has South Sioux City as the last hurdle to a state title.
The defending champion Bearcats earned their spot in the rematch with a 55-51 win over Gretna in a matchup of Class B's top-ranked teams in Friday night's semifinals at the Devaney Center.
South Sioux City, which defeated Elkhorn South 84-76 in overtime to reach the finals for the fourth consecutive season, will play the No. 1 Bearcats at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Devaney.
“This is a special group,” Scottsbluff coach Tony Siske said. “Last year was obviously a great year for us, but these seniors have been through a lot the last three years, doing a lot of great things for our program, and now they have the opportunity to hang up another banner.”
Michael Hadden led the Bearcats with 18 points. Jackson Hinze had 12 against the No. 2 Dragons and Eric Moreno, held to two points in the first half, finished with nine.
“We wanted to be aggressive, which was something I felt we didn't do in the first half against Aurora (in the first round),'' Siske said. “We knew they were going to give Moreno a lot of attention and when they were up tight on him, that opened up some of the driving lanes.”
Scottsbluff (23-5) never led in the second quarter but trailed only 24-23 at halftime. The Bearcats started the second half with consecutive three-point plays from Moreno and Hadden for a 29-24 lead.
Jordan Batenhorst, who came off the bench for 15 points for Gretna, made a 3 to tie the game at 29.
Taylor Winkler came back with a 3 for Scottsbluff and the Bearcats never trailed again.
Gretna closed to 48-46 and 51-49, on a three-point play from Mitch Drey, in the final four minutes. Winkler made two free throws and Moreno one for a five-point lead with 22 seconds left.
Drey led the Dragons with 18 points.
Gretna (18-8) .............. 10 14 9 18—51
Scottsbluff (23-5) ....... 10 13 14 18—55
Gretna: Mitch Drey 18, Jordan Batenhorst 15, Nate Skrdla 10, Trevor Leiting 6, Jackson Kallman 2.
Scottsbluff: Michael Hadden 18, Jackson Hinze 12, Eric Moreno 9, Taylor Winkler 7, Tyler Mickey 6, Matthew Clark 3.
Officials: Jeremy Winn, Jeremy Gilfry, Kelvin Nesbit.
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