LINCOLN - Time ran out on Cinderella as the Cedar Catholic Lady Trojans saw their magical run through the 2022 post-season hit a road block Thursday here at the Bob Devaney Sports Center in the Class D1 semifinals of the Nebraska State Girls Basketball Championships.
The road block came at the hands of Shelton which sent Cedar Catholic to the consolation game scheduled for Lincoln East High School, March 11 at 3 p.m. with a 53-37 win over the Lady Trojans.
"I just felt like they (Shelton) did every thing they needed to do to win the game," Lady Trojan coach Craig Wortmann said. "We battled our hearts out but we just couldn't get things going in the second half - some of that was them and some of that was us."
Cedar Catholic came out of the gate firing on all cylinders as a great defensive effort and a hot hand from Makenna Noecker helped the Lady Trojans build a double-digit lead in the first eight minutes before the frame ended with HCC up by nine 19-10.
Noecker scored 10 of her team-high 17 points in the first and the Lady Trojans scored over half of their total points in the game with the 19.
Cedar Catholkic broke the ice with a Noecker drive in the paint just seconds into the game.
She took the coast-to-coast after a defensive rebound for another layup to make it 4-1.
Laney Kathol found Noecker flashing to the basket to make it 6-1 with 4:06 left in the first before a Kathol steal and layup made it 8-1.
Shelton hit its first basket of the game with 3:12 remaining to make it 10-3 after Kathol made her second bucket inside.
Another Noecker drive and a three by Jordyn Steffen pushed the advantage to 17-8, still with time in the quarter.
Noecker polished off her 10-point stanza with another drive with 36.8 seconds before the Lady Bulldogs answered with a shot inside to make the score 19-10 heading into the second.
"We really had some trouble adjusting to their defense in the second quarter," Wortmann said. "I think we settled for too many outside shots and quit going to the hoop."
What resulted was a 15-3 second with Kathol providing a couple of free throws and Lauren Bernecker connecting on one-of-two foul shots.
By the time the teams headed for the intermission, Shelton had taken a 25-22 lead.
Cedar Catholic scored first in the second half on a Noecker trip in the paint but a three by Makenna Willis, three of her game-high 25 in contest, and another bucket inside for the Lady Bulldogs made it 30-25.
By the end of the third the Lady Trojans trailed by nine and managed just six points in the final eight minutes as Shelton advanced to the D1 title game in the schools first-ever trip to the state tournament.
"We kind of got gassed in the second half," Wortmann said. "We used so much energy trying to get back in the game we just had nothing left in the end."
The Lady Trojans will take on either Fremont Arch Bishop Bergan or Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in the third-place game at East.
"I'm very proud of the way we have battled all season," Wortmann said. "We have a great group, they came to work every day and believed in the process even when it was hard to see the light - we gather ourselves for tomorrow and see what happens.
Cedar Catholic 19 3 9 6 - 37
Shelton 10 15 15 13 - 53
CEDAR CATHOLIC (14-16): Makenna Noecker 7 2-4 17; Jordyn Steffen 2 2-2 7; Laney Kathol 4 2-5 10; Grace Wortmann 1 0-0 2; Lauren Bernecker 0 1-2 1.
SHELTON (27-1): Halie Clark 0 0-2 0; Mayte Martinez 0 0-1 0; Alia Gomez 1 0-0 3; Dru Niemack 3 5-10 11; Sidney Gregg 1 2-2 4; Makenna Willis 7 7-8 25; Emmilly Berglund 4 2-2 10.