STROMSBURG — In a game where defense was dominant, Ord found an alternative way to win.
The No. 3-rated (Omaha World-Herald) Chanticleers scored 20 points at the free-throw line, including their final 14, on the way to a 36-25 victory over Wayne in the Class C-1, District 4 championship at Cross County High School.
After a 9-0 run gave Ord (24-2) a 22-8 lead midway through the third quarter, coach Kenton Tennal opted to try and put the game on ice with a delay game. The strategy worked as the Chants were 20 of 31 at the free-throw line, including going 14 of 20 in the final 6:54 to fend off a determined rally attempt by the Blue Devils (16-11).
"We went to the stall, thinking we could take care of the ball and kill some clock," Tennal said. "Wayne went on a little run there to get back in it, but I’ve told our girls all year that we were going to win a game on free throws. This was a good game to do it in."
Ord’s final field goal of the night was a 3-pointer by Delani Fahey with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter, putting her team ahead 21-8. Cold-shooting Wayne cut its deficit to 30-25 on a Morgan Keating basket with 50 seconds to play, but the Chants were 6 of 8 at the foul line in the final 43 seconds to lock up the school’s seventh trip to the girls state basketball tournament and first since 1989.
Fahey scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the third quarter to lead Ord. Fellow guard Alexandra Smith added eight points — all from the free-throw line — while 6-foot senior post player Kathryn Grint grabbed 15 rebounds and 5-9 sophomore Madilyn Hagge had 11 boards for the Chants.
Kylie Hammer scored 10 points to lead Wayne. Danica Schaefer had 13 rebounds for the Blue Devils before fouling out with 19 seconds to play.
Ord’s defensive performance allowed it the luxury of burning time off the clock. The Chants, who switched to a 2-3 matchup zone defense early in the first quarter, limited Wayne to 15.7 percent shooting (8 of 51) from the floor.
After going 2 of 12 shooting in the first quarter, the Blue Devils missed their first 13 field-goal attempts in the second quarter. Hammer’s driving basket with two seconds left before halftime accounted for Wayne’s only second-quarter points as it trailed 13-8 at the intermission.
"It’s tough because the girls just weren’t on shooting the ball tonight," said Wayne coach Dave Hix, whose team entered the contest converting 43 percent on two-point shots for the season. "Some teams do play us zone because we’re pretty quick and our guards are difficult to guard man-to-man. Ord did a nice job of adjusting and they played a great game.
"You’d like to be able to shoot them out of the zone, but that wasn’t happening tonight."
With Grint, who had three blocked shots, locking down the interior defense, Wayne was forced to rely on its perimeter game. The Blue Devils finished 1 of 19 shooting from 3-point range.
"We played man (defense) all year and we had not played any zone," Tennal said. "We work on zone defense every week, but we just haven’t been very good at it this year. We knew we might have to go zone against Wayne, so after the first couple of minutes, we went with the zone and stuck with it.
"The girls did a heck of a job."
Ord won despite its own shooting struggles, finishing just 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) from the floor. However, Tennal said the Chants did exactly what they needed to get a huge postseason win.
"We have told the girls all season that if they can defend and rebound, they can play with anybody," Tennal said. "We feel like the shots will fall — we’re a great offensive team — so when we step up and rebound and play defense like that, I think we can beat anybody.
"We’re blessed to be at the state tournament, but I think we’ve got a good shot."
Ord ................................... 6 7 9 14—36
Wayne .............................. 6 2 7 10—25
ORD (24-2): Fahey 4-8 3-5 14, Smith 0-5 8-8 8, Alexander 0-2 2-3 2, Hagge 1-8 3-5 5, Grint 1-2 4-10 7, Hill 0-1 0-0 0, Svoboda 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 6-26 20-31 36.
WAYNE (16-11): Stegemann 1-13 0-0 3, Hammer 4-13 2-5 10, Boyer 1-6 1-3 3, Keating 2-8 0-0 4, Schaefer 1-10 3-4 5, Sandoz 0-0 0-0 0, Gamble 0-1 0-0 0, Maly 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 8-51 6-12 25.
3-point goals—Ord 4-13 (Fahey 3-6, Smith 0-4, Hagge 0-2, Grint 1-1), Wayne 1-19 (Stegemann 1-9, Hammer 0-4, Boyer 0-4, Schaefer 0-2). Fouled out—Schaefer. Rebounds—Ord 42 (Grint 15), Wayne 34 (Schaefer 13). Assists—Ord 6 (Smith 2, Alexander 2), Wayne 2 (Hammer 1, Schaefer 1). Turnovers—Ord 13, Wayne 6. Total fouls—Ord 13, Wayne 22. Technicals—None. A—NA.