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March 7, 2014

Thursday Review at Girls State Hoops

The opening day of the 2014 Nebraska girls state basketball tournament produced its fair share of surprises (to me anyway), tearful exits and outstanding performances.

In other words, another Thursday at state.

At the top of my list was yesterday's Platteview vs. Fairbury scorefest. That's as close to the NBA as I've seen in a girls high school basketball game, in terms of get the ball, get up the court, look around for a second and then score.

Platteview won the game, 77-66, tying the tournament single-game record for points, and as we found out there are all sorts of ways to get to that point total.

Fairbury did it with more balance than hour typical Wallenda, with all five starters scoring in double figures. Let that sink in for a minute. Now remember, this his high school girls basketball, 32 minutes in a game. Division I scholarship player Paige Husa led the team with 18 points. Talking with her after the game I was reminded what a terrific young lady she is, in addition to being an outstanding basketball player.

Platteview basically said, uh, here you go Kenzie Kulm, see what you can do. My new buddy came up aces all game long, scoring a ridiculous 40 points, including five long three-pointers, and basically dominating the game. What caught me about her game was how easy she made things look; she always was going 100 percent without looking like it, always in control and, as it turns out, always about to score.

Minden did its Minden thing yesterday, making 15 threes on the way to another ho-hum 72-point winning performance. So here's the question - Minden's gonna do it again, can Platteview?

Can't wait to find out.

* Class B gave us some late night excitement, as in the nightcap Holdrege nipped York, 54-53, in overtime. Girl you want to be this morning: well, pick between Haley Schroeder and Jenna Gillespie. At breakfast this morning they are babbling about probably the greatest play the tournament will give us.

Gillespie hit Schroeder with a perfect half-court pass and Schroeder converted into the winning lay-up, capping a crazy Holdrege rally which wiped out York's 41-32 lead with a little less than two minutes left in regulation. Unbelievable.

Wheaties go pretty good with game-winning baskets, I'd imagine...

* Class C-2 produced mostly expected results, though you'd have to say Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, superstar Kaylee Jensen or no superstar Kaylee Jensen, beating GACC was a mild upset. (Kaylee sort of got her way last night, scoring 31 points, defeating about every type of GACC defense. I mean, on one possession I thought I saw a kitchen sink in there...

Homer was valiant but couldn't have gotten a worse draw, having to beat mighty Pender twice in a row. Pender withstood a heroic third-quarter surge by the Knights, then put the game away.

Crofton won easily and St. Cecilia held off a young, plucky Dundy County-Stratton team that had the lead late before the Hawkettes forced some late turnovers, converted them into points and snuck out with the win. St. Cecilia (and Crofton and Pender and Humphrey/LHF) is good enough to emerge from the C-2 slugfest as champs but Dundy's future is as bright as any in the field; they'll be back.

* Biggest shocker of the D-1 first round was not that Emerson-Hubbard beat St. Mary's - remember, the Pirates were at state last year and this IS a state-tournament program we are talking about - it's the way they did it. Controlling the game from start to finish, taking its lead from Abby Drieling (18 points) and Payton Blanke (16 points), Emerson-Hubbard dominated last year's state runner-up in very impressive fashion.

That said, no team is going to go out of its way to play Friend, or at least they shouldn't. The Class D-1 tournament's No. 1 seed the Bulldogs looked mighty mighty yesterday, throttling 22-win Arapahoe, 69-33, finishing with four girls scoring in double figures. Good luck trying to beat Friend, rest of D-1...

* Form also held in D-2 where all favorites won, mostly in one-sided fashion. We fans got the semifinals we were after - Sacred Heart vs. Wynot (all those championships...) and Giltner vs. Sterling. While this bracket lacked the depth others had it should produced a couple of great semifinals.

* No real surprises in Class A, though like most of you I wish we'd get to see Fremont's Jess Shepard play twice more in this tournament. Millard West fixed it so that won't happen, holding off a furious Fremont fourth-quarter rally to win, 70-65. You know you're a great player when you score 23, like Shepard did, and it feels like less than great; that's what averaging 30 a game will do for you.


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