Never too late for Weidemann

Omaha Westside's Quinn Weidemann, No. 32, celebrates with her teammates after she hit a game-winning shot in a 46-45 win over Millard West. The sophomore has made two game-winning shots this month. "It hasn't surprised me because I know how much time she spends in the gym," Westside coach Steve Clark said.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Quinn Weidemann has hit two game-winning shots this month for Omaha Westside.

The sophomore guard is the type of player who wants the ball — yells for the ball — at crunch time.

"It hasn't surprised me because I know how much time she spends in the gym," Warriors coach Steve Clark said. "But I'm always amazed at high school kids who can perform under that pressure."

Weidemann thrives on that pressure, as shown by those last-second wins in the past few weeks over ranked foes Millard West and Bellevue West. She has helped the defending Class A state champion go 19-4 and earn a No. 3 slot in the Class A ratings.

"It's been a pretty good season," she said. "Our defense has improved a lot from early in the year and we're playing together as a team."

Westside started 5-2 but has gone 14-2 since. That includes wins over the No. 7 Wildcats and the No. 6 Thunderbirds that Weidemann helped secure with baskets in the waning seconds.

Against Millard West on Feb. 8, she sank the go-ahead jumper with seven seconds left as the host Warriors rallied for a 46-45 win. Wildcats coach Marc Kruger said after the game that "a great player made a great shot to win it for them."

Less than two weeks later, Weidemann struck again at Bellevue West. She raced down the floor and nailed a pull-up jumper in the lane at the buzzer to give Westside a 54-52 victory.

Clark said what amazed him about that play was the sophomore's composure when she took a pass from teammate Maya Solarana after the Thunderbirds missed a free throw with 5.7 seconds left.

"She went running past our bench full speed, dribbling left-handed and looking at the clock," he said. "She wasn't content to just heave it up from anywhere, and she knew exactly how much time was left."

Like Kruger, Bellevue West coach Rick Mintken credited Weidemann for her last-second heroics.

"Not many players can do what she did to us," he said. "Give credit to Quinn because she won it for them."

Clark said it's no accident that Weidemann — who was screaming for the ball from Solarana before her downcourt dash against the Thunderbirds — has stepped up as a leader even more this season.

"She's really worked on that," the coach said. "She's only a sophomore, but the team looks up to her, and she wanted that role."

Weidemann said she learned a lot about leadership last season from Jay Bridgeman, an All-Nebraska forward who has moved on to UNO this season.

"I'm trying to fill that role because Jay meant so much to our team," Weidemann said. "She was always very composed and made everyone feel important."

Weidemann averaged 12.7 points as a freshman on last season's state championship squad. She scored 14 in a 53-40 win over Norfolk in the final, helping Westside secure its second title and first since 1999.

She has boosted that scoring average this season to 16.3, fifth in Class A.

"I'm taking more shots this year," she said. "Coach talked to me about trying to be more of an offensive threat."

Weidemann also helps the Warriors in other ways. She averages 3.1 assists and leads Class A in free-throw shooting at 87 percent.

What Weidemann wants most is to help the Warriors get back to state, a goal they can achieve with a win Thursday night at Lincoln East in the District A-7 final. Westside also has a shot at the lone wild-card berth to state, though Weidemann said the team doesn't want to rely on that.

"We know what we need to do to get back to the state tournament," she said. "We're playing with a lot of confidence right now and we need to go win that district title."

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