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Cedar girls upset top seed

LINCOLN - Anything or anyone with Cedar Catholic before its name is going to fight to the end for the win.

The Trojans did it on Monday and the Lady Trojans took it to a whole new level Tuesday to advance to the D1 semifinals of the Nebraska State Girls Championships here at Lincoln Southwest High school.

The Cedar girls did it in dramatic fashion with a come-from-behind 47-46 victory over the No. 1 seed Elmwood-Murdock after trailing by as many as a 14 during the game.

"These girls will not quit," Cedar Catholic coach Craig Wortmann said. "We have done it all year."

"We just trust each other," Lady Trojan junior Makenna Noecker said. "We knew it was going to take an effort, but we knew we could do it."

It took the entire team to get the job done.

"We had so many girls step up today," Wortmann said. "It was almost unbelievable - but we knew we could do it."

The Lady Trojans were down a dozen after Bailey Frahm banked-in her second banked three-pointer of the game off the glass for the Lady Knights late in the third quarter.

Jordyn Steffen answered at the end of the frame to help her team get back to within 10, 34-24.

"We knew at the end of the third we needed to start hitting some shots," Lady Trojan sophomore Katy Jones said. "We prayed at halftime and just asked for a chance - it all turned out."

The chance came early in the final eight minutes.

Makenna Noecker paced the Lady Trojans as she has all season with 23 of the team's 47 points, but plenty of teammates stepped up in the fourth quarter to get Cedar back in the game - including Jones.

Jones canned a three followed by a long ball  from Noecker to open the fourth and suddenly the pressure was on the Lady Knights with just over a minute gone in the final frame and Cedar Catholic trailing by only four.

Lauren Bernecker completed the comeback just a minute and 13 seconds into the final quarter with her first three of the afternoon to make it 34-33 and forcing Elmwood-Murdock coach Paul Dwyer to call a timeout.

Forty-seven seconds later, the Lady Trojans took the lead when Noecker drove past six-foot-five-inch Lady Knight Brenna Schmidt in the paint to score on a dribble-drive to the basket.

"Coach just told us to stay calm and keep working," Noecker said. "We did that and he was right."

Elmwood-Murdock regained the lead after a couple of free throws, but Samantha Pick's three-pointer  with 2:48 left put Cedar Catholic up for good, but the action was far from over.

"It was so great to have so many different teammates step up," said Laney Kathol. 

Kathol found herself in foul trouble throughout the game going up against the much taller Schmidt, but was confident in her teammates to come through in the clutch.

"Lauren (Bernecker), Katy (Jones) and Grace (Wortmann) really stepped up and played great inside," Kathol said. "We trust each other and I just knew they would get the job done."

Noecker would blow past Schmidt again for a basket with 1:47 left on the clock to make it 43-39, but another three off the glass by Frahm made it 43-42.

Kathol was fouled with 58.2 seconds left and she hit both charity tosses.

Schmidt scored inside with 44.1 seconds remaining Noecker toed the lie for a pair of free throws five seconds later.

The Lady Knights fired up three shots after Noecker's free throws and finally scored with 12.2 seconds left to make the 47-46 final score, but, again the action wasn't over.

The Lady Trojans missed the front end of a one-and-one but defense prevailed as Frahm couldn't bank in her third three as she heaved an off balance  shot at the buzzer.

Many factors went into the win and none of the factors were missed by the coach or the players.

"Our fans were the best," Noecker said. "They screamed for us the entire game - even when we were behind - the parents our classmates it was really great."

Wortmann was more in a coaching mode.

"Our entire season prepared us for this game," Wortmann said. "We have played the best to get us to this point - now we need to keep it moving."

Unlike year's past, the Lady Trojans will get a day off before they take on Shelton in the semifinals of Class D1 on March 10 at the Bob Devaney Sports Center at 9 a.m..

The Lady Bulldogs defeated Niobrara-Verdigre 52-27 to improve to 26-1 on the season.

"We will use this momentum to move forward," Noecker said.


Cedar Catholic 7 6 17 17 - 47

E-M                 9 12 13 12 - 46


CEDAR CATHOLIC (14-15): Makenna Noecker 9 3-4 23; Katy Jones 3 0-0 8; Jordyn Steffen 2 0-1 4; Samantha Pick 1 0-0 3; Laney Kathol 1 4-7 6; Lauren Bernecker 1 0-0 3.

ELMWOOD-MURDOCK (23-4): Tatum Backemeyer 0 1-2 1; Delaney Frahm 0 1-2 1; Bailey Frahm 4 0-0 11; Alexis Bacon 3 5-7 11; Ella Zierott 1 0-0 2; Brenna Schmidt 9 0-0 18; Jordan Vogler 1 0-0 2.