WAYNE -- The Grand Island Northwest girls and Wayne boys won championship games Monday night at the Great Northeast Nebraska Shootout hosted by Wayne State College.
Northwest's Lady Vikings, the reigning class B state champions, showed resilience in a 51-43 come-from-behind win over the Pender Pendragons, last year's class D1 champs who are competing in class C2 this season.
The Wayne boys squandered a 26-point fourth quarter lead, but held on for a 55-44 win over Boone Central/Newman Grove in the nightcap to improve to 8-2 on the season.
Pender's girls team led 14-8 after one quarter and 23-20 at the half behind the 10 points by Paige Ballinger and the eight rebounds by Maggie Fillipi as the Pendragons used their size advantage inside effectively in the first half.
But in the second half the Lady Vikings outscored Pender 16-7 and held the Pendragons scoreless for the final two minutes of the third during a 10-0 run that gave Northwest a 36-30 lead going into the game's final period.
Although Ballinger scored from the right block to open the fourth, she committed her fourth personal foul on Northwest's ensuing possession and would leave the game with her fifth foul six minutes later. By that time the Pendragons had battled back from a 10-point deficit--with the aid of a 3 by Trista Morgan and a three-point play by Ballinger, with both scores produced by her two consecutive offensive rebounds of missed Pender free throws--to trail 44-43 with 1:50 left to play.
But Ballinger then fouled out trying to stop Northwest's Kennadi Keezer from scoring with 1:34 remaining following Pender's 26th turnover of the game. Keezer made one-of-two from the line, but with the Pendragons forced to foul, the Lady Vikings' McKenzie Brown made three consecutive trips to the line and made all six of her free throws to finish out the game for Northwest.
Pender, which slips to 8-2, shot 39 percent from the field to Northwest's 29.5 percent, but the 26 turnovers and Northwest's 23-of-29 shooting from the free throw line were difference-makers in the game.
“Pender's size obviously gave us trouble,” Northwest coach Mike Herzberg said. “They do a great job of utilizing it, and they played very well. They're a good basketball team, and they made open shots in the first half. But I felt good being down one possession, because I knew we didn't shoot as well as we could.”
Herzberg knew going into the game that his team was going to have to persevere to have a chance to win.
“Before the game started I said it was going to take 32 minutes,” he said. “I really felt that way, and our girls competed the whole time. Kennadi Keezer was huge for us, and McKenzie Brown is one of the best players in the state. She shot 89 percent last year from the free throw line, so that's obviously who we're going to get the basketball to at the end to protect a lead. But Pender's a great club, and they're going to win a lot of games.”
Ballinger's 17 points and Fillipi's 14 rebounds led the Pendragons. Northwest, now 9-1 on the season, had three players in double-figures, including Brown with 20 points, Keezer with 17, and Katie Placke with 10. Keezer and Brown led the Lady Vikings with 8 and 7 rebounds respectively.
The Wayne boys trailed 8-7 at the end of a ragged first quarter, then took advantage of Boone Central/Newman Grove's 26 percent shooting from the field in the first half and Ben Hoskins' 13 second quarter points to forge a 20-12 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils then outscored BC/NG 17-7 in the third to increase their lead to 37-19 after three quarters of play. The Cardinals were scoreless for the final four-and-a-half minutes of the period.
After a pair of Kaje Maly 3's from the left wing triggered a 10-2 Wayne run to open the final period, the Cardinals finally found their offensive footing. Trailing 49-23 with five minutes to play, Pierce Koch initiated a BC/NG 12-0 run with an offensive rebound putback, then added a 3 from the point. Following two Derek Gentrup free throws and a drive, Koch hit another 3 from the point to reduce Wayne's lead to 49-35.
The run continued as the Blue Devils missed the front-ends of two one-and-one free throw opportunities and converted just four of six other free throw chances. Meanwhile, Tyler Hedlund sandwiched another Koch 3 with two 3's of his own as BC/NG trailed by just nine points at 53-44. But the late flurry was too little and too late as just 25 seconds remained, and a pair of free throws by Jalen Berry produced the final score of 55-44.
Hoskins led Wayne, which improves to 8-2, with 21 points and eight rebounds. Maly and Berry each had 11 points. The Cardinals, now 7-3 on the season, were led in scoring by three players in double-figures. Gentrup led the way with 14 points, while Koch totaled 11 and Hedlund had 10. Travis Kennedy had seven rebounds.
Girls championship game
PHS............................14 9 7 13--43
GINW............................8 12 16 15--51
Pender (8-2): Erin Sorensen 2-3 0-0 6; Babuna Ezrova 2-11 1-2 5; Trista Morgan 2-6 0-0 6; Paige Ballinger 7-12 3-5 17; Maggie Fillipi 3-7 3-3 9; Justice Sorensen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-41 7-10 43.
GINW (9-1): Katie Placke 3-5 3-4 10; Erin Sorahan 2-6 0-0 4; McKenzie Brown 3-17 13-14 20; Hannah Rathke 0-2 0-2 0; Kennadi Keezer 5-12 7-9 17; Erin Schleicher 0-1 0-0 0; Shelby Schacher 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 13-44 23-29 51.
Boys championship game
WHS.................................7 13 17 18--55
BC/NG..............................8 4 7 25--44
Wayne (8-2): Kaje Maly 4-5 1-2 11; Jalen Berry 3-6 5-8 11; Jared Anderson 1-2 0-0 3; Ben Hoskins 8-13 4-6 21 ; Trevor Pecena 3-4 1-3 7; Luke Rethwisch 0-4 0-0 0; Brook Bowers 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 20-35 11-19 55.
BC/NG (7-3): Carter Johnson 0-4 0-0 0; Pierce Koch 4-7 0-00 11; Derek Gentrup 5-11 4-4 14; Tyler Hedlund 4-13 0-2 10; Travis Kennedy 1-4 1-2 3; Scott Ketteler 0-0 2-2 2; Zac Glidden 1-3 0-0 2; Kyle Kramer 1-2 0-0 2; Keaton Henry 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-45 7-10 44.