Jerome Skrdla valued the senior leadership on his Gretna girls basketball team before the season started.
He valued it even more after Friday’s overtime victory over Elkhorn South.
Senior starters Jamie Schuetz and Mary Janovich combined for 35 points and made repeated big plays in No. 4 Gretna’s 60-55 homecourt victory over the No. 8 Storm.
“I thought our seniors showed a lot of character and you saw those two take over,” Skrdla said. “We’re down seven late and we got a lot of young kids coming off the bench – that’s when the character of those seniors showed. They weren’t going to let it slip away.”
Gretna trailed 53-46 with three minutes left before Schuetz and Janovich combined to score the final seven points of regulation.
Schuetz had a 3-point play to trim the lead to four, then hit a bucket with 1:58 to cut the gap to two.
Gretna had two possessions to tie fail before cashing in on the third. Janovich’s driving layup with 18 seconds left tied the game and the Dragons survived a last-second shot by the Storm to force the overtime.
Maddie Meadows drilled two free throws 16 seconds into the overtime and Gretna never trailed again. Janovich added two more free throws to push the margin to four and Meadows, Schuetz and Janovich each hit one more foul shot down the stretch.
Janovich, still not 100 percent with an ankle injury, finished with 18 points to lead the Dragons while Schuetz added 17 and Meadows 10.
“We didn’t think we’d get Mary back until Christmas,” Skrdla said. “She’s at about 75 percent, but she’s a gutsy kid.”
Janovich and Schuetz are the only two starters back from last season’s state qualifying team and Skrdla knows they will have to stabilize the team until a host of younger players get acclimated.
“We’ll have to rely on those two until our younger players get there,” Skrdla said.
The Dragons cruised in Thursday’s season opener with a 50-27 win over Duchesne.
Destany Ross led three Dragons in double figures with 14 while Schuetz added a dozen and Janovich 10.
Gretna led 20-7 after eight minutes and pushed the lead to 16 by the half.