After finishing as the Class C-1 state runner-up in 2010 and 2011, Wahoo was hoping to get another shot last year at the girls state basketball tournament.
The Warriors were defeated in their 2012 district final and never got that chance. But coach Linda Walker’s squad will be headed back to state this season in search of the school’s first championship.
“I really felt good about this team going into the season,” Walker said. “We did work through some early struggles, but we’ve gotten things turned around and moving in the right direction.”
The coach said that turning point occurred after the Warriors had lost three straight and weren’t playing up to their capabilities.
“I didn’t see the passion in the girls, and that was a big concern,” Walker said. “We had a really good talk and got back on track, and we’ve played much better since the Christmas break.”
The Warriors have gone 13-5 since the break, and three of those losses came against ranked Class B teams. Wahoo rode that momentum into subdistricts, defeating Columbus Lakeview and Columbus Scotus.
That set up a district final against Omaha Concordia, and Wahoo prevailed 52-51. The Warriors fought back in the second half and hit several key free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“We struggled in the first half of that game, but our third quarter was phenomenal,” Walker said. “Our girls kept playing hard and refused to quit.”
The Warriors are led by senior guard Samantha Grandgenett, who is averaging 12 points per game. Junior forward Tschida Johnson averages 10.8 while senior guard Darcy Barry averages 9.3.
Wahoo averages 51.1 points per game, about 15 less than the days when the high-scoring Murren sisters — Mattie and Sadie — played for the Warriors. They helped the squad reach the state title game two straight years but Wahoo came up short in 2010 (Wahoo Neumann, 58-55 in overtime) and 2011 (Hastings St. Cecilia, 65-61).
“We don’t think too much about those past games,” Walker said. “This is a totally different team and I’m proud of what these girls have accomplished.”
Wahoo (16-9) is the sixth seed in Class C-1 and will play third-seeded Fillmore Central (24-2) in a first-round game at 3:45 p.m. Thursday at Pershing Center.
“I don’t believe our record says it all,” Walker said. “I know our girls believe in themselves and they’ll be ready to play.”
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