NORFOLK — The Lady Wildcats season ended one game shy of the State Tournament with a 53-43 loss Friday night to Humphrey/ Lindsay Holy Family at Northeast Community College, Norfolk.
Hartington-Newcastle faced the Lady Bulldogs in the D1-5 District Final, with a trip to the dance in Lincoln on the line.
Coming out the gate strong, the Lady Cats were led in the first quarter by senior Willa Scoville draining three long balls for nine points.
“We played really well at the start, maybe even better than I could have hoped,” said HNS coach Corey Uldrich. “I was a little nervous about what our composure and nerves would be like for something like this, but I thought we handled it really well and we got the start we wanted. So that was really good to see.”
Belle Harms made a bucket in the paint as well in the opening frame, and HNS led HLHF 11-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Cats tried to take that momentum into the second quarter, using a full-court press to try and force the game to go at their pace. The Lady Dogs threw a counterpunch though, evading the full-court press with ease, creating open looks in transition.
“We just got a little overextended in the second quarter,” said Uldrich. “I think we got down and tried to do a little too much with our full-court press. It is designed to keep the ow of the game in our favor, and we gave up two or three open looks from three off that press and it hurt. We just didn’t get back to recover like we needed to so I took it off for a while.”
Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family would score 21 points in the second quarter, taking a 31-22 lead into the halftime break.
A matchup in the post between 6’1” HNS senior Belle Harms and 6’2 HLHF senior Taya Beller was a highly touted battle between two D1 centers.
“I thought Belle did a good job against Beller,” said Uldrich. “I don’t think you can say one or the other won the matchup, but I certainly don’t think Belle backed down, which was good to see. She was probably as aggressive tonight taking the ball to the hoop from the high post as she has been all year.”
While Harms and Beller both contained the other, the latter found support at the perimeter by Brittney Veik and Allie Schneider.
Veik led the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points in the first half, finishing the night with a game-high 20 points, and Schneider followed with nine points of her own.
Schneider was then followed in scoring by another Schneider, a 6’ freshman named Addison. The freshman scored eight points, taking advantage of the attention given to Beller and exploiting it in the second half.
“[HLHF] put both of the six-footers on the floor at the same time, and the freshman [Addison Schneider] got going,” said Uldrich. “I think she had eight points in the third quarter, and we had a tough time matching up with her size. We put a lot of attention on Beller, and she deserves it, but the freshman really stepped up for them.”
HNS was held to eight points in the third, while the Lady Bulldogs grew their lead to 17 points heading into the final quarter.
The Lady Wildcats fought back, refusing to quit, and narrowing that lead to just six points, but the girls were never able to make the full push for the lead.
“None of us wanted to be done with our season,” said Scoville. “We decided we needed to buckle down and get going. 17 points is a big amount of points but we didn’t want to be done with our season.”
Despite the effort, the Lady Bulldogs would earn a 10-point victory, punching a ticket to the dance in Lincoln for the State Tournament.
For the Lady Wildcats, the loss ended a season for a senior-led team. Much of the HNS basketball team was on the volleyball team in the Fall, where the girls also suffered a loss in the District Finals - one game shy of the State Tournament.
“It has been everything to play with the same girls the whole entire time,” said Scoville. “We love each other so much and it shows on the court. It is sad that both [volleyball and basketball] seasons came to an end like this, but it means a lot to play with them.”
Scoville, Harms, Liby Lange, Evvie Krie, Hailey Gottsche, Grace Jansen, Gina Jueden, and Ellie Stencel are all seniors who ended their high school basketball careers Friday. A core group that has played together for many years that culminated in a season that fell one game shy of making the trip to Lincoln.
“I went back and looked when they were freshmen, and the senior girls were around .500, maybe a 14-10 type season, and every year after they have gotten better and better,” said Uldrich.”
Uldrich said this group of seniors has set the bar high for future HNS athletes.
“They have put down a pretty solid foundation on where basketball needs to be, and that is something we talked about in the locker room,” he said. “This is going to hurt and it is going to hurt for a long time, but when they look back at it when it is all said and done they will smile and be proud of what they accomplished. The state tournament was obviously something they had as a goal, not just to play in it but to play on Saturday. It is a goal we didn’t get, but it is a group that is pretty resilient and tough that has battled through a lot of adversity this year. Through it all, they kept playing hard, kept grinding, and that will pay off for them later on in life.”
Hartington-Newcastle ended the season with a record of 17-8 in Uldrich’s first year as head coach of the program.
HNS 11 11 8 13 — 43
HLHF 10 21 16 6 — 53
FG 13-30 23-56
3PT 3-9 8-16
FT 14-21 8-14
REB 17 35
TO 17 15
SCORING HNS - Abbe Morten, 11; Willa Scoville, 9; Belle Harms, 9; Gina Jueden, 8; Kayden Jueden, 6. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family - Brittney Veik, 20; Allie Schneider, 9; Addison Schneider, 8; Taya Beller, 7; Danie Brandl, 4; Jessica Olmer, 2; Brooklynn Magsamen, 2; Allanah Beller, 1.
REBOUNDS HNS - Belle Harms, 6; Kayden Jueden, 4; Gina Jueden, 4; Willa Scoville, 2; Abbe Morten, 1. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family - Taya Beller, 7; Allanah Beller, 7; Addison Schneider, 7; Allie Schneider, 5; Danie Brandl, 3; Brittney Veik, 2; Jessica Olmer, 2; Brooklynn Magsamen, 1; Paige Beller, 1.
ASSISTS HNS - Belle Harms, 4; Abbe Morten, 4; Willa Scoville, 2; Kayden Jueden, 1. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family - Allie Schneider, 6; Allanah Beller, 2; Brittney Veik, 2; Danie Brandl, 1; Taya Beller, 1.
STEALS HNS - Belle Harms, 3; Willa Scoville, 2; Gina Jueden, 1; Abbe Morten, 1; Liby Lange, 1. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family - Brittney Veik, 4; Allanah Beller, 3; Brookyln Magsamen, 1; Jessica Olmer, 1; Allie Schneider, 1; Taya Beller, 1.
BLOCKS HNS - Belle Harms, 3; Kayden Jueden, 1. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family - Taya Beller, 4; Addison Schneider, 3; Allie Schneider, 1; Brittney Veik, 1; Danie Brandl, 1.