Class B: Brooke Carlson fuels Elkhorn upset of South Sioux City for state title

Elkhorn's Liberty Donahoe dribbles past South Sioux City's Taryn Christensen.

LINCOLN — You can’t beat perfect.

Elkhorn center Brooke Carlson made all nine of her shots in Saturday’s 67-60 win against No. 1 South Sioux City in the Class B championship game.

It was the Antlers’ second state championship and first since 1985.

Carlson, a senior who will play at UNK, was the first to hold the trophy and first up the ladder to cut down the net after scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Like all players, Carlson had envisioned the championship moment.

Reality lived up to the hype.

“I was fouled with a couple minutes left and every free throw that I’d shot previous to that, I’d pictured myself shooting it in the state championship game,” Carlson said.

Elkhorn shot 1 of 2 in the fourth quarter, but it was a big one.

Payton Jakopovic’s 3-pointer with 6:53 to go put Elkhorn ahead 51-48, and the Antlers would lead the rest of the game.

“I kept telling our posts to kick it out when they drive in,” Jakopovic said. “I was waiting for that pass. It was like a free throw for me.”

The Antlers (26-3) had plenty of actual free throws the rest of the way, making 16 of 22 in the final six minutes and 27 of 33 overall.

Starters Kyra Fischer, McKenna Sims and Taryn Christensen each ended the third quarter on the bench with three fouls, but the Cardinals survived with key baskets from Marybeth Rasmussen, who had 13 points, and Hannah Strom.

But foul trouble would haunt South Sioux City in the fourth.

Christensen fouled out with 3:35 remaining; Fischer followed with 2:13 to go.

“We like to take some chances and play aggressive. The down side of that is sometimes you get into foul trouble,” South Sioux City coach Molly Hornbeck said.

The Cardinals used a 9-2 run the last 2:42 of the first half to take a 33-26 halftime lead. Rasmussen and freshman Kyra Fischer made 3-pointers during the run. The Cardinals were 7 of 15 from beyond the arc in the first half, causing the zone-centric Antlers to switch to a man-to-man defense.

“We knew (playing zone) was taking a gamble,” Elkhorn coach Jennifer Wragge said. “We were hoping they wouldn’t hit those 3s. Obviously, we were wrong.”

Carlson scored 10 in the second quarter, but teammates initially didn’t offer much help, shooting 4 of 17, including 1 of 8 from 3-point range.

That changed after halftime.

Jakopovic made two 3s as part of a 10-2 Elkhorn run that opened the third quarter.

“I was just trying to sneak into those pockets when (the defensive players) were turning their heads,” said Jakopovic, who was 4 of 8 on 3s and had 16 points.

Kailee Lawrence made two 3s in 45 seconds to put Elkhorn ahead 46-43, but South Sioux City rallied to tie it 48-48 at the end of the third.

Elkhorn had scored less than 50 points in 14 straight games until putting up 51 in Friday’s semifinal, then equaled a season high in points Saturday.

“We scored more in the state tournament than we did the whole second half of the season,” Wragge said, then turned to Carlson. “Can you believe it?”

South Sioux City (23-5)...........11 22 15 12—60

Elkhorn (26-3)........................10 16 22 19—67

SSC: Kyra Fischer 4-13 0-0 10, McKenna Sims 6-16 5-6 19, Marybeth Rasmussen 5-8 0-0 13, Tiffany Tinker 3-7 1-1 7, Taryn Christensen 1-6 1-2 3, Tori Knowles 0-0 1-2 1, Selene Guzman 0-4 0-0 0, Hannah Strom 2-3 1-2 7. Totals 21-57 9-13.

E: Liberty Donahue 0-0 4-6 4, Payton Jakopovic 4-9 4-4 16, Maddy Meehan 1-8 7-9 9, Carly Cameron 0-1 3-4 3, Brooke Carlson 9-9 9-10 27, Jaisa Hoffart 0-0 0-0 0, Payton Cooley 0-0 0-0, Kailee Lawrence 3-8 0-0 8, Livia Steskal 0-0 0-0 0, Kelsey Tabbert 0-0 0-0 0, Hailey White 0-0 0-0 0, Tia Murray 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-36 27-33.

3-point shooting: SSC 9-23 (Rasmussen 3-4, Strom 2-2, Fischer 2-6, Sims 2-8, Guzman 0-1, Christensen 0-2), E 6-16 (Jakopovic 4-8, Lawrence 2-6, Meehan 0-1, Cameron 0-1). Fouls: SSC 24, E 15. Fouled out: Fischer, Christensen. Technicals: none. Turnovers: SSC 7, E 12. Rebounds: SSC 29 (Fischer, Sims 7), E 32 (Meehan 13).