SOUTH SIOUX CITY — Cedar Catholic and Oakland-Craig both found foul trouble in the first half, but the Lady Knights earned a 57- 49 victory behind Kennedy Benne’s 27 points.
Coming into the C2-4 District Final, the Cedar game plan was to shut down senior Dacey Nelson early. A D-II commit to Hillside College in Michigan, Nelson has averaged over 26 points per game.
Nelson went to the bench in the first quarter with two fouls but subbed back into the game in the final minute of the first quarter. She quickly picked up a third foul and was forced to ride the pine until after halftime. She made just two free throws at the beginning of the first quarter and had two points at halftime.
Benne came into the game averaging just under 15 points per game, and with Nelson on the bench, she showed she can be just as dangerous. The junior went into the half with 15 of the team’s 25 points.
Getting Nelson out of the game opened some things up for Cedar’s offense in the first half, but the Lady Trojans hurt themselves by also getting into foul trouble.
“We tried to get in the zone a little bit, tried to force other girls to take some shots, and it seemed to work a little bit, but we were, I think, 7-14 on free throws in the first half,” said Cedar coach Craig Wortmann. “There were a couple of times that we missed our free throws, missed some easy buckets. If it could have been tied going into the second half maybe it’s a different story, but it is what it is.”
Both teams had 11 fouls in the first half, and both Aiden Wortmann and Maddie Wieseler picked up three fouls in the first half for Cedar. Lady Trojans senior Jada Cattau was held to six points in the first half, but she turned on the jets in the third quarter for 10 of the team’s 14 points.
“We tried to set a few more screens for her to get her moving around the outside and across that top, and I think she also got a little more aggressive going to the bucket," said Wortmann. "They play good man-to-man defense so you have to find different ways to score. It is tough to get shots up when they are right on you so you have to be able to drive, need to cut, and set a few more screens, and that helped Jada out a lot.”
Cattau finished with the team-high 18 points, but Oakland Craig expanded its lead by scoring 19 in the third with Nelson back on the court.
Nelson scored 11, with three treys, stating her presence back in the game following her first-half foul trouble. In the fourth, she would go 6-6 at the free throw line for all of her points in the final frame.
“You know eventually it is coming because she scores and she scores a lot,” said Wortmann. “So you kind of just take it as best you can, but you know she is going to hit her shots and get her shots. You just try to stay in front of her and slow her down as much as you can.”
Meanwhile, Benne scored five points in the third quarter, and seven in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 27, while Nelson supplemented with 16 points on the night.
“So the two girls we were trying to slow down were still scoring, and it is tough because they are good players,” said Wortmann. “Those two know how to score. They know how to shoot. They know how to take care of the ball, and it is just a really good team.”
Jada Cattau, Maddie Wieseler, Brianna Miller, and Trisha Dybdal ended their high school basketball careers at the South Sioux City Mini- Dome, but Wortmann says these girls’ contributions to the athletic programs over the past four years will not be forgotten.
“Those girls have put in the time and they work well with the younger girls. They enjoy playing and competing in both volleyball and basketball so we are going to miss them. Those girls have contributed a lot to us, and I am very happy they were with us the whole time.”
Cedar Catholic ended the season at 12-9.
Cedar Catholic 9 10 14 16 — 49
Oakland-Craig 15 10 13 19 — 57
SCORING Cedar - Jada Cattau, 18; Abby Hochstein, 13; Brynn Wortmann, 9; Maddie Wieseler, 9. Oakland-Craig - Kennedy Benne, 27; Dacey Nelson, 19; Makenna Pearson, 4; Ashley Denton, 3; Mya Guzinski, 2; Natalie McNeill, 2.
REBOUNDS Cedar - Brynn Wortmann, 10; Abby Hochstein, 5; Aiden Wortmann, 3; Trisha Dybdal, 2; Maddie Wieseler, 1; Megan Heimes, 1. Oakland-Craig - Kennedy Benne, 7; Dacey Nelson, 5; Makenna Perason, 5; Grace Pille, 3; Jeannina Blahak, 3; Mya Guzinski, 2; Natalia McNeill, 2.
ASSISTS Cedar - Megan Heimes, 2; Maddie Wieseler, 2; Trisha Dybdal, 1; Aiden Wortmann, 1; Jada Cattau, 1; Brynn Wortmann, 1. Oakland-Craig - Mya Guzinski, 6; Kennedy Benne, 2; Dacey Nelson, 1; Makenna Pearson, 1; Grae Pille, 1; Natalie McNeill, 1.
STEALS Cedar - Jada Cattau, 3; Brynn Wortmann, 1; Abby Hochstein, 1; Aiden Wortmann, 1; Trisha Dybdal, 1. Oakland-Craig - Kennedy Benne, 3; Dacey Nelson, 2; Makenna Pearson, 1; Grace Pille, 1; Mya Guzinski, 1; Natalia McNeill, 1.
BLOCKS Cedar - Brynn Wortmann, 3; Jada Cattau, 1. Oakland-Craig - Kennedy Benne, 2; Natalie McNeill, 1; Makenna Perason, 1.