BEATRICE, Neb. — McKenzie Brown has spent enough time at the free-throw line for it to become routine, but she admitted heading to the stripe in front of a raucous Beatrice crowd provided its share of butterfies.
But Brown and the rest of Class B No. 3 Grand Island Northwest hit enough free throws in the fourth quarter to finish off a 53-45 upset of No. 1 Beatrice on the road Friday night.
Brown hit 5 of 6 free throws as part of a 21-point performance, and the Vikings made 8 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter to offset going without a field goal in the final 6 minutes, 49 seconds.
“It's something I've done since freshman year,” said Brown, a junior. “But it's more scary being in their house.”
Northwest (19-2) now has handed Beatrice its only two losses this season, the first coming on Dec. 29 in the final of Northwest's holiday tournament.
When Northwest wasn't at the foul line, it was usually behind the 3-point arc. The Vikings were 9 of 22 on 3s, including five treys in the second quarter. Brown had three of the Vikings' treys in the quarter, and Kaley Werner and Erin Sorahan each added one 3-pointer to help Northwest to a 29-20 halftime lead.
“Every one of our players has the green light, and I'm not going to tell them to stop shooting,” Northwest coach Mike Herzberg said.
Beatrice (15-2) rallied with the first eight points of the third quarter, but never pulled ahead.
The Lady Orange cut the deficit to 45-44 on a basket by Chantel Adams with 3:34 to play, but that would be Beatrice's final field goal. The Lady Orange shot 3-for-15 in the fourth quarter.
“I think our defense is more about slowing people down,” Brown said. “They play at a faster pace, so I think us slowing them down surprised them.”
Hanah Barnard scored 15 points to lead Beatrice, and Jill Faxon added 11 of her 12 points in the second half.
Katie Placke had three 3-pointers and scored 13 points for the Vikings, while Kaley Werner had nine.
“We hung together,” Herzberg said. “That's what tonight was all about. We had to hang together, and that's what our girls did for 32 minutes.”
GINW (19-2) ................. 10 19 12 12—53
Beatrice (15-2) ................. 10 10 18 7—45
GINW: Brown 21, Placke 13, Werner 9, Sorahan 6, Keezer 2, Westphal 2
B: Barnard 15, Faxon 12, Higgins 7, Osborne 5, Adams 4, Sutter 2