Lincoln Christian cruises after slow start


WAVERLY, Neb. — A slow start — at least for this team — didn't sidetrack Lincoln Christian on Thursday night.

The Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in Class C-1, rolled to a 62-36 victory over Malcolm in a C1-3 subdistrict final at Waverly High School. Lincoln Christian (22-1) advances to a district final Feb. 26 while the Clippers (20-4) hope to snag one of two wild-card slots to the state tournament.

Coach Nick Orduna's squad missed its first seven shots, but then got rolling when junior guard Ashlyn Power sank three straight 3-pointers. The third one put the Crusaders on top by three, and they wouldn't surrender the lead the rest of the way.

"Ashlyn is one of our captains," Orduna said. "She missed her first three shots, but she kept on shooting, and I appreciate that kind of drive."

Malcolm knew before the game how well Lincoln Christian — one of the top scoring teams in the state — can hit from behind the arc. The Crusaders sank 17 3-pointers against the Clippers in a 74-46 subdistrict final win last year.

"They shoot the ball so well," Malcolm coach Trudy Samuelson said, "and they've got great basketball sense. They're just good."

Power's nine-point first quarter helped stake the Crusaders to an 18-10 lead. Lincoln Christian then outscored the Clippers 18-7 in the second quarter to carry a 36-17 advantage into the half.

Any hope Malcolm had of mustering a rally died in the third quarter, when it was outscored 16-4. The Clippers were 1 for 7 from the field and committed nine of their 29 turnovers.

"Those turnovers killed us," Samuelson said. "Our team is young (one senior starter) and our inexperience showed."

Malcolm won the fourth quarter 15-10, but it wasn't nearly enough. The Clippers, seeking their first state tournament berth since 2007, now must cling to the slim chance of reaching that destination via the wild card.

"At this point, we just cross our fingers and hope for the best," Samuelson said. "Either way, I'm proud of the season these girls put together."

Sophomore Emily Hollenbeck led the Crusaders with 16 points while Power had 13 and Taytem Coleman 11. Sophomore guard Chloe Dworak, who leads the team with a 17-point average, was held to six.

"Malcolm has a good team and they're pretty tall," Orduna said. "I was pleased with the way we battled them all game long."

Hollenbeck said the Crusaders continue to draw motivation from a disappointing semifinal loss against eventual C-1 champion Pierce last season at the state tournament.

"It's definitely driving us," she said. "We're focused for every game."

Sophomore center Jaela Zimmerman had nine points and 10 rebounds to pace the Clippers.

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