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CREIGHTON - A slow start did not prevent Hartington-Newcastle from surging past the D-1 defending state champion North Central Lady Knights with a 51-38 win last Thursday night.

The Lady Wildcats made just two free throws in the first quarter, but a stout defense kept HNS in it early.

“We didn’t play terrible, we just didn’t make a lot of shots, and we were down 11-2,” said HNS head coach Corey Uldrich “Probably one of the things we did better tonight is we didn’t panic, we stayed together, and in the second quarter a lot of it was probably our press defense.”

Lady Cats senior Belle Harms made the first basket and was fouled. Despite not making the free throw, earning a field goal sparked life into the HNS offense.

“[That basket] was a lot right there in that point of the game, and to see her get that and-one, even though she missed the free throw, it just brought our momentum up and pumped us up for the rest of the game,” said senior Willa Scoville.

HNS would flip the script with 17 points in the second quarter, taking a 19-17 lead into the halftime break.

“I feel we came in and worked together more in this game,” said Harms. “We had more confidence, and we were set on winning this game because we all wanted to win this one.”

“Like Belle said togetherness, and I think our defense,” said junior Abbe Morten, continuing Harms point. “We talked during halftime down in the locker room after the coaches left, and I said we need to buckle down on defense because it was something that we were missing Tuesday and it helps our offense flow and definitely helped.”

The Lady Wildcats would turn defensive tenacity into offensive production in the second half, with Harms leading the way in the post.

“I’m kind of speechless,” said Uldrich. “I think it was 49-27 over the last three quarters, and I’m not sure you could have told me we would outscore them by 22 over a three-quarter stretch. Our girls played well and they deserved it.”

The senior had a school record 14 blocks in the game, as part of her triple-double on the night that included 14 points and 13 rebounds. Of those boards, 12 were on defense.

“If I’m smart, stay on my feet and no jumping, I can shut them down,” said Harms.

At 6’1”, Harms can create opportunity strictly from her length. Those opportunities can often result in points on the other end.

“It definitely helps us so much because we know we can take a risk going out because she is going to power down the post on the inside, and we know she will get the rebound with that block,” said Scoville. “It really helps with our offense because we can get a quick reversal down the court.”

Morten and Scoville scored alongside Harms on Thursday night. Morten led with 17 points, while Scoville tied Harms with 14. Kayden Jueden, Evvie Krie, and Gina Jueden completed the scoring output with each player scoring two points.

Now the Lady Cats head to the District Finals on Friday night, traveling to Norfolk to face Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.

Many girls on the HNS basketball squad suffered a loss during volleyball season in the District Finals, and there is a determination to make this time around different.

“I think we will focus on our defense and playing together because that is what got us here tonight,” said Morten. “We want to go to State. This is our team, this is who we have been playing with for ten years and this is what we have been working hard for our whole life.”

Uldrich remembers being in Columbus for that Districts Final loss in volleyball, and he wants the girls to use that loss as motivation to win this game and make it to State.

“It is ironic because when the District volleyball game was over there were a lot of tears in the hallway at Columbus, and I just remember telling every one of them that I knew was going to play basketball to remember that game, that environment, and what it felt like to be that close,” said Uldrich. “When we went down to the locker room, I told them they should be very happy about the way this game went, but that District game better come back to your mind and they should remember how much that hurt because we can use that.”

Hartington-Newcastle is the 12 seed and faces ve seed Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family on Friday night in Norfolk.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. at Northeast Community College.

Hartington-Newcastle 2 17 16 16 — 51

North Central               11 6 9 12 — 38


SCORING Hartington-Newcastle - Abbe Morten, 17; Willa Scoville, 14; Belle Harms, 14; Kayden Jueden, 2; Evvie Krie, 2; Gina Jueden, 2.

REBOUNDS Hartington-Newcastle - Belle Harms, 13; Kayden Jueden, 6; Gina Jueden, 6; Willa Scoville, 4; Abbe Morten, 4; Liby Lange, 2.

ASSISTS Hartington-Newcastle - Abbe Morten, 3; Evvie Krie, 3; Willa Scoville, 2; Liby Lange, 1; Belle Harms, 1.

STEALS Hartington-Newcastle - Liby Lange, 4; Evvie Krie, 3; Willa Scoville, 2; Abbe Morten, 2; Kayden Jueden, 2; Belle Harms, 1; Gina Jueden, 1.

BLOCKS Hartington-Newcastle - Belle Harms, 14; Kayden Jueden, 1; Willa Scoville, 1; Liby Lange, 1.

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