After one of the most memorable and unbelievable finishes in Platteview girls basketball history, the Trojans are finally ready to move on.
Kenzie Kulm’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer put Platteview in the state tournament for the first time in 16 years after a 61-58 victory over Wahoo Neumann in the C1-2 District championship game Friday.
“I think midway through Saturday afternoon, I realized it was probably time to move on,” Trojan coach Justin Dannelly said. “We want to take the moment and enjoy it, but we have more to do and we’re ready to go to work.”
Up next for the Trojans is a Class C-1 first-round game with Fairbury Thursday at 10:45 a.m. at the Devaney Center in Lincoln.
But you can’t look ahead without remembering how the Trojans got to this point. It was a moment that won’t soon be lost on players, coaches, or the throng of Platteview fans in attendance.
“Before the game, we knew there was a pretty good chance we’d get in (as a wildcard), but we didn’t want to back our way in,” Dannelly said. “It’s something we’ll probably never forget.”
Fairbury poses several big challenges, both literally and figuratively, for the Trojans on Thursday.
The Jeffs (23-2) have three players 6-0 or taller on their front line, led by 6-2 senior Paige Husa. The University of Missouri-Kansas City recruit is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per night.
A pair of 6-footers, Shelby Pollman and Jordan Johnson, combine for 23 points and 11 rebounds per night.
“They’ve got some size and that creates some match-up problems for us,” Dannelly said. “We’ll try to push the pace and wear them down with our speed and depth.”
Dannelly’s depth should be a big plus as he routinely plays eight players in his rotation.
The one player who rarely leaves the floor is Kulm as the junior point guard leads the Trojans in scoring (17 ppg), rebounding (7.6 rpg), assists (4 apg) and steals (3.5 spg).
She has an outstanding group around her that bring many different skills to the floor.
Senior Sydney Feller brings toughness and athleticism, evidenced by her 10 points and six rebounds per game.
Guards Lexie Wichman and Mackenzie Zach provide Kulm with solid backcourt mates while Michelle Keyes handles much of the post work and is also a 3-point threat.
Rachel Harriman is a 3-point threat off the bench, while Nicki Stolzer and Brandis Bridwell bring further ability down low.
Spurred on by their 17-7 record a year ago, the program’s first winning season in a decade, the Trojans have been able to check off many of their preseason goals.
It started by winning the Ashland-Greenwood Holiday Tournament and was followed by Capitol Conference and district tourney crowns.
But the biggest challenge awaits and Dannelly believes his team is ready to tackle whatever lies ahead.
“These kids have played enough basketball I don’t worry about them not being able to handle a situation,” he said. “They never seem in trouble or over their heads. That’s their mentality.”
Whatever happens in Lincoln this weekend can’t take away from what has been a memorable ride for everyone involved.
“I have close friends in the coaching ranks and they’ve all told me to not be afraid to take time and enjoy the moment,” Dannelly said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. It’s like we told the football kids a couple of years ago - who knows when this will happen again? You can look back on it the rest of your life.”
Dannelly, an assistant on the football staff, draws many comparisons to the 2011 football team that reached the Class C-1 championship game.
“We’ve gotten so much support from the community and people who don’t have a relative or friend playing are showing up to watch us,” he said. “I looked up before the game Friday night and just thought “Oh my gosh, there’s a lot of people here.”
Dannelly hopes the Trojans have a little magic left.
“We’ve reached our destination, but the journey’s not over,” he said.