Class A: Millard North vs. Papillion-La Vista

Millard North's Lauren West drives to the basket as Papillion-LaVista's Mercy Milliken.

LINCOLN — Millard North has made it to only its fourth state semifinal in school history.

The top-ranked Mustangs scored the first 12 points of their Thursday game against No. 6 Papillion-La Vista before the lead slipped to one in the third quarter.

But by finishing off a 54-45 win, they play Lincoln Pius X at 8:45 p.m. Friday at Pinnacle Bank Arena for a chance to be in their first state final.

Millard North coach David Diehl joked that he gave a different pregame speech than last year, when they fell behind Lincoln Southwest 13-0 and lost by 11.

Sign up for daily headlines from NEPrepZone

Get a daily roundup of game recaps, player features and more in your inbox.

“In all honesty, it was that we had been here before,” he said. “They had a different look in their eye this time.

“Last year I said I didn’t think the stage got us, it was just that we needed to see a shot go in. But after further thought, it was the stage that got us. Being here a second time really helps. Having three seniors really helps. Having kids knock down big shots really helps.”

One of those seniors, UMKC-bound Lauren West, had eight of her team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter. Jayna Green had 11 and Lexi Kraft 10. Junior Nicole Avila-Ambrosi also had 10.

Papio’s Josey Ryan, who was 8 of 12 on six trips to the line in the first half, and Olivia Boudreau led the Monarchs with 18 points apiece.

“Josey Ryan is an absolute warrior and, as a senior, you know she’s going to try to take the game over,” Diehl said. “What a good team they have.”

Papio was within one twice, 29-28 and 31-30, then Asia Bryant made two free throws. The Monarchs (22-5) had a 3-pointer spin out on their only possession with a chance to tie before Millard North scored nine of the next 11 to regain a double-digit lead.

Millard North (21-4) lost to Pius X 55-51 in January.

“They got up big on us early,” Diehl said. “They were up 15 in the third quarter and we started playing hard again. We just didn’t play hard the whole game.

“In the locker room afterward, we said, ‘Hey, we have to be done losing, done taking plays off. And we’ve been led by three outstanding seniors who committed to that. It’s hard to be perfect, but you have to try. You have to strive for perfection. That’s the only way to be great, and those three have bought into that.”

Millard North (21-4)..............16 13     6 19—54

Papillion-La Vista (22-5).........5 16 11 13—45

MN: Lauren West 14, Nicole Avila-Ambrosi 10, Jayna Green 11, Lexi Kraft 10, Asia Bryant 6, Elle Danley 2, Kaylee Kessler 1.

PLV: Olivia Boudreau 18, Josey Ryan 18, Lindsey Ingwerson 4, Jenna Hoelscher 3, Erica Broin 2.

Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.