LINCOLN, NE – Early on, it appeared this game could go down to the wire.
Crete (21-5) and Omaha Skutt Catholic (18-7) were matching each other step-for-step out of the gate, as the first half featured 12 lead changes and two ties.
Crete however ended the first half on a 5-0 run and limited the SkyHawks to just nine points in the second half on their way to a 48-29 win in the first round of the Class B girls’ state basketball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday.
The Cardinals avenged a 44-36 loss to Skutt in the Doane holiday tournament on Dec. 28, and will now face Elkhorn South (13-13) in Friday’s semifinals at 2 p.m. at PBA. Elkhorn South upset No. 1 seed Sidney (22-4) on Thursday, 51-37.
Junior forward Morgan Maly went 0-of-5 from three in Thursday’s game, but still finished with a game-high 22 points. While the three-point line wasn’t working for Maly, the free throw line certainly was.
The Creighton’s women’s basketball commit converted 8-of-9 attempts from the charity stripe. Sophomore guard Hannah Newton finished with 10 points – she was a perfect 8-of-8 at the foul line.
“Morgan is tough to guard,” Crete head coach John Larsen said. “If you put a small kid on her, we post her up. If they put a big kid on her, she steps out. She didn’t shoot the three well today, but she’s still confident enough to get points.”
Junior guard Jayda Weyand scored nine points, knocking down three triples in the first half.
The most disparaging stat from Thursday was the free throws. Crete went 16-of-17 as a team. Skutt was just 0-of-2.
The Skyhawks finished with 15 fouls as a team Thursday, while Crete was called on only five.
Senior Sydney McDermott led Skutt in defeat with 12 points – eight of her 12 points came in the first quarter. Sophomore Cecilia Behrens scored 11 points – nine of those came from beyond the arc.
Crete didn’t fully assert itself until the final quarter. Leading 32-24 after the third quarter, the Cardinals outscored the SkyHawks 16-5 over the game’s final eight minutes.
“We feel like we can play lots of different kinds of defenses,” Larsen said. “Today, we stuck with our 2-3 and it did really well. We tried to take away (McDermott) and (Behrens) as much as we could and force someone else to make shots.”
Crete’s semifinal game with Elkhorn South at 2 p.m. will air live on Ol’ Red 99.5 with pregame coverage starting just after 1:40.
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