LINCOLN — After two recent losses and a practice schedule upended by a snowstorm, Millard West's weeklong cold streak extended well into the first quarter of Friday's game at Lincoln Pius X.
That was until the inside-outside duo of Philomena Lammers and Logan Black heated up to return the No. 3 Wildcats to their winning ways. Lammers and Black each poured in 16 points to pace Millard West's 43-31 win.
Lammers's eight first-half points helped Millard West (15-3) stay in the game after an icy start from the field. The Wildcats missed their first seven shots as the Thunderbolts jumped to an early lead.
"It was a little curious," Millard West coach Marc Kruger said of his team's early struggles. "I don't know what our deal was, we just didn't get off to a good start. We didn't have a lot of energy. We were a little out of routine all week with the snow days."
Millard West led 15-14 at halftime before Black gave the Wildcats breathing room in the third with a pair of 3-pointers, the second one giving Millard West a 27-17 edge going into the fourth.
"Coach said we just need to start moving the ball and looking to get other people open," Black said. "I had my teammates looking to get me open, and I was so fortunate for that. I had my shot and I took it."
Black then buried her first two shots from behind the arc in the fourth quarter to push the Wildcats' lead to 35-22 with six minutes to play.
"We needed that. We just needed the ball to go in the basket," Kruger said. "We said in the locker room when the ball went through, it was kind of like a weight was off our shoulders. We loosened up and played freer."
Lammers added three more baskets in the final five minutes to clinch the win.
"She's got to be good for us," Kruger said of Lammers. "I feel like we've got a really good double-post combination. When (Lammers) is a force, and Courtney (Merryweather) can stretch the defense, that balance is huge."
MacKenzie Helman and Haley Hall scored eight points for Pius (10-7), but the Thunderbolts couldn't overcome their own frigid shooting. Pius shot 32 percent Friday, including a 1-for-10 performance in the decisive third quarter when Millard West outscored the Thunderbolts 12-3.
It was Millard West's first game since losing the No. 1 ranking after losses to Lincoln East and Papillion-La Vista South a week ago. Black said getting back on the court and finding a rhythm Friday was exactly what the Wildcats needed, especially with a quick turnaround Saturday when Millard West hosts Norfolk.
"We kind of went through a funk, and every team goes through a little slump," she said. "But we're starting to bounce back and starting to play really well. We're learning to play with each other more, so that's good."
Millard West boys 55, Pius 47
No. 9 Millard West raced to a 15-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, and it was enough to hold on for a win over Pius in the boys game.
Logan Anderjaska scored a team-high 14 points, including 10 in the second half as the Wildcats (10-6) snapped a two game losing streak.
After a sluggish opening quarter when Pius hit 1 of 10 from the field, the Thunderbolts got back in the game with offensive rebounding, eventually closing to 46-41 on Jerome Schmidt's put-back with about three minutes to play.
But Millard West stayed aggressive, attacking the basket. Shae Wyatt scored on back-to-back drives to push the Wildcats' lead to 50-41 with 1:54 left, and Simon Hay hit three late free throws to seal the win.
"I didn't feel like our guys pressed at all, they just went and executed," Millard West coach Bill Morrison said. "That's what we concentrate on — if something bad happens, you go on to the next play."
Joe Burt led Pius (9-5) with 14 points. Hay had 10 points and Wyatt added nine for Millard West, which hosts Norfolk on Saturday and plays at Omaha Westside on Monday.
"We said we're going to treat this like a state tournament," Morrison said, "and see if we can win three games in four days."
"We needed that. We just needed the ball to go in the basket. We said in the locker room when the ball went through, it was kind of like a weight was off our shoulders. We loosened up and played freer."
Millard West coach Marc Kruger