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Huskies hope they can be this year’s surprise team

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Huskies hope they can be this year’s surprise team

Unlike last season, Norfolk won’t be making any Cinderella postseason run this year.

Omaha Northwest took care of that Tuesday night.

The Huskies sank 10 3-pointers and cruised to a 52-27 home win in a district A-3 girls basketball semifinal. The victory boosts Northwest (15-8) into Thursday’s 7 p.m. district final at Fremont.

A win over the Tigers would send the Huskies off to the state tournament for the first time since 1980.

“We were really focused tonight,” Northwest coach Donnie Johnson said. “We talked about what they accomplished last year and how we needed to be ready.”

The Panthers captured their district crown last season with a 13-12 record and improbably reached the Class A final as the No. 8 seed. They lost the championship game against Omaha Westside, but that inspired tourney performance caught everyone’s attention.

“We knew teams were going to be prepared for us after last year,” Panthers coach Jared Oswald said. “Northwest is a good team and they shot the ball well.”

Oswald added that a road loss at Lincoln Northeast on Friday night and a four-point home win over Omaha Central on Saturday seemed to take something out of his team.

“We didn’t have the intensity we needed,” he said. “And their pressure really affected us.”

Oswald said the game plan was to force the Huskies to shoot from the outside, but that strategy backfired when Northwest sank four 3-pointers in the first quarter. Johnson’s squad finished with 10 — six from junior forward Jaden Wrightsell.

“We hit a few 3s early and the girls got excited,” Johnson said. “I liked the way we came out and played hard at both ends of the court.”

Wrightsell, whose father Latrell was a standout player at Creighton, single-handedly sunk Norfolk’s comeback bid in the third quarter. She scored 15 of her 23 points in that period, including four baskets from behind the arc.

“Our mindset tonight was that we were going to win, no matter what,” Wrightsell said. “We know any one of these games could be our last, and we’re not ready for that.”

She said the team talked about the Panthers’ state tournament run last season and made sure that didn’t happen this season.

“We knew we had to come out hard,” she said. “We didn’t want them thinking it could happen again.”

Northwest led 13-3 after the first quarter and 25-10 at halftime. The Panthers shot 16 percent from the field in the first half and committed 12 turnovers.

Wrightsell’s third-quarter performance — 15 straight points for the Huskies — expanded the lead to 45-16 heading into the fourth quarter. Norfolk earned a moral victory in the final period, outscoring Northwest 11-7.

Oswald said the Huskies’ 3-point barrage was too much for his team to overcome.

“If they shoot like that, they have a chance against anyone,” he said. “They’re a good team and I hope they keep it going.”

De’Ayra Davis scored 12 for Northwest, which lost by 15 at Fremont on Jan. 16.

Wrightsell said she hopes the Huskies can be the surprise team that Norfolk was last season.

“It’s going to take all of us to get it done,” she said. “But we’re looking forward to that game Thursday night.”

The Panthers, who scored a season-low 27 points, finish the season 13-11. Lakyla Moore paced Norfolk with nine points while Jenna Jochum had eight.

“We’re young, so we’ll learn from this,” Oswald said. “I’m still really proud of this team.”

Norfolk (13-11).............................. 3 7 6 11—27

Omaha Northwest (15-8)...........13 12 20 7—52

N: Lakyla Moore 2-3 5-7 9, Erika Hansen 0-2 0-0 0, Leah Buss 3-4 0-0 6, McKenzie Bader 0-2 2-2 2, Allison Temple 0-0 0-1 0, Jenna Jochum 3-15 1-2 8, Taylor Stoltz 1-8 0-0 2.

ONW: Kierra Brice 2-6 0-0 4, De’Ayra Davis 5-11 0-1 12, Deja Davis 1-4 0-0 3, Sierra Roseby 0-2 0-0 0, Jadai Burns 1-2 1-2 3, Emma Peters 0-1 0-0 0, Sydney Vann 0-2 0-0 0, Caliana Fenceroy 2-2 0-0 4, Nevaeh McKinney 1-6 0-0 3, Jaden Wrightsell 7-14 3-6 23, Kaylynn Tucker 0-2 0-0 0.

3-point goals: N 1-6 (Bader 0-2, Jochum 1-4), ONW 10-25 (De’A. Davis 2-4, Dej. Davis 1-2, Roseby 0-1, Peters 0-1, Vann 0-2, McKinney 1-5, Wrightsell 6-10. Rebounds: N 38 (Johnson 8), ONW 26 (Wrightsell 8). Total fouls: N 12, ONW 16. Turnovers: N 23, ONW 10. Field-goal percentage: N .264, ONW .365. Free-throw percentage: N .667, ONW .444.

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