LINCOLN — A strong second-half performance in Friday's semifinal will allow Pierce to play for its first championship.
The fifth-seeded Lady Bluejays defeated top-seeded Chadron 52-34 in a Class C-1 game at the girls state basketball tournament. Pierce, which hasn't been to state since 1995, advances to Saturday's 4:30 p.m. final against Kearney Catholic at the Devaney Center.
The Lady Bluejays led 24-21 at halftime, then outscored the Cardinals 28-13 in the second half.
“I didn't really say much at half,” Pierce coach Darren Sindelar said. “There was no 'Win one for the Gipper' speech. I just told the girls to keep moving around, and we started to hit more shots.”
Chadron's chances suffered a blow midway through the first quarter when leading scorer Ashlea Kerr reinjured her knee. The junior, who hyperextended the knee in practice early in February, did not return.
“That was pretty deflating,” Chadron coach Curt Holmquist said. “We stayed with them for a while, but their height was just too much.”
Pierce went on a 9-0 run to start the third quarter as Chadron went scoreless until a free throw by Briley Hannaford with 2:42 left in the period. The Lady Bluejays went on a similar run in the fourth quarter by scoring the first 11 points.
Rachel Wiedenfeld led Pierce with 16 points while Rachelle Tucker and Jacy Bretschneider added 10 each. Wiedenfeld and Krystina Koepke both had nine rebounds.
Peyton Hinn scored 12 points for Chadron while Bailea Kerr — Ashlea's twin sister — had 10. The 23-3 Cardinals, who were also seeking their first title, will play a consolation game against Wahoo on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Lincoln Northeast.
Pierce (22-4) ................. 9 15 11 17—52
Chadron (23-3) ................. 12 9 5 8—34
P: Katie Atkins 3, Branigan Stonacek 4, Jacy Bretschneider 10, Rachel Wiedenfeld 16, Rachelle Tucker 10, Krystina Koepke 9.
C: Peyton Hinn 12, Briley Hannaford 5, Ashlyn Eitemiller 2, Bailea Kerr 10, Alia Brennan 5.
Officials: Adkisson, Klein, Duncan.
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