Justice Ross scored only three second-half points Friday night, but they came at an opportune time for Gretna.
The senior forward converted each of her free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 40 seconds left to boost the Dragons to a 43-42 win over Omaha Benson at the Nebraska Prep Classic. The game was one of four — two girls games and two boys games — played on the first day of tourney competition at the Ralston Arena.
Gretna, ranked sixth in Class B, boosted its record to 12-1. The Bunnies, ranked eighth in Class A, fell to 8-4.
The Dragons led by nine at halftime, but Benson rallied in the third quarter to take a one-point lead. The game was close throughout the fourth quarter as neither team could open more than a two-point advantage.
“We got the jump on them early, but we knew they'd be close at the end,” Gretna coach Jerome Skrdla said. “Justice hit those late free throws and they proved to be huge.”
Ross, who sank seven 3-pointers in a season-opening win over Omaha Duchesne, attempted a 3-pointer in the final minute with Benson holding a one-point lead. She was fouled by sophomore guard Kanesha Plater and then knocked down all three foul shots to stake the Dragons to a two-point advantage.
Montrese Weller missed a 3-pointer for Benson on its next trip down court, but the Bunnies got new life when Gretna guard Mary Janovich missed a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left.
Weller was fouled on a drive to the basket with 2.5 seconds left, but she sank only one of two free-throw attempts. The Bunnies had one last chance when Arbrieal Benson intercepted the inbounds pass and put up a desperation shot from the corner, but it didn't fall and the Dragons had their victory.
“They're a proven program and a very good team,” Benson coach Jon Perone said. “We didn't have a lot of energy in that first half, but we played better in the second.”
That lack of energy might have been traced to the night before. The Bunnies played at Kearney on Thursday night and didn't get back to Omaha until 12:30 a.m. Friday.
“I told our team that was not going to be an excuse,” Perone said. “If we're going to play championship basketball, we need to get used to playing a couple of tough games in a row.”
That late trip home from Kearney took a toll on Benson's long-range shooting. The Bunnies, usually a solid team from behind the arc, shot 1 of 10 on 3-pointers.
“They weren't hitting those shots, and that was a big key,” Skrdla said. “If they'd been hitting them, we might have been in trouble.”
Janovich led the Dragons with 14 points while Ross added 13 and Jamie Schuetz eight.
Benson sophomore center Kianna Ibis led all scorers with 18 points. She was 8 of 12 from the field and pulled down 11 rebounds.
“She's amazing,” Skrdla said. “We had four girls on her at times and she was still tough to stop.”
Gretna returns to action Tuesday at Class C-1 Norfolk Catholic, while the Bunnies' next game is at home Thursday against Class A No. 2 Bellevue East.
Gretna (12-1)................9 19 9 6—43
Omaha Benson (8-4).......10 9 16 7—42
G: Jamie Schuetz 4-12 0-2 8, Megan Kruse 1-9 1-3 4, Mary Janovich 6-9 0-4 14, Madison Miller 1-1 0-0 2, Justice Ross 3-7 4-5 13, Audra Keehn 0-1 2-2 2.
OB: Kylee Askew 0-0 1-2 1, Moneeka Robinson 1-1 0-2 2, Arbrieal Benson 5-10 0-0 11, Octavia McGraw 3-5 0-0 6, Kianna Ibis 8-12 2-3 18, Montrese Weller 1-7 2-3 4.
3-point goals: G 6-14 (Schuetz 0-3, Kruse 1-3, Janovich 2-2, Ross 3-6); OB 1-10 (Benson 1-5, Weller 0-5). Rebounds: G 23 (Janovich 4, Miller 4, Keehn 4); OB 27 (Ibis 11). Total fouls: G 13; OB 12. Turnovers: G 12; OB 18. Field-goal percentage: G .384; OB .542. Free-throw percentage: G .437; OB .500.
Millard North 66, Papillion-La Vista South 34
Taylor Bahensky scored 14 points and Holly Hild added 10 to lead the ninth-ranked Mustangs past Papillion-La Vista South at the Nebraska Prep Classic.
Twelve players scored for Millard North, which boosted its record to 9-3.
Alexa Digiacomo scored 10 points to pace the Titans.
Papillion-La Vista South (1-11)........ 9 7 9 9—34
At Millard North (9-3).............14 21 10 21—66
PLVS: Lindsey Gess 3, Haley Peterson 5, Katie Dyball 1, Kiana Lemon 7, Alexa Digiacomo 10, Alyssa Hernandes 2, Holly Nelson 3, Raegan Legrand 3.
MN: Ali Drey 6, Holly Hild 10, Taylor Therkelsen 1, Morgan Kessler 2, Mary Dineen 5, Kenae Merritt 9, Taylor Bahensky 14, Emily Haase 3, Jordan Tynes 4, Paige Erickson 4, Jess Rands 2, Allie Swanson 6.
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