LINCOLN — It’s no accident.

No. 4 Lincoln Christian will compete for its second Class C-1 title in three years after beating No. 3 Mitchell 44-42 in Friday’s semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

The Crusaders were incident-free off the court a day after a team van was involved in a two-vehicle accident on the way to their first-round game.

On the court, Lincoln Christian (19-8) played through foul trouble — especially for 6-foot-4 junior Olivia Hollenbeck — and got key contributions from its bench.

“I’m so thankful for our bench because when I had to sub, I had to say either we keep it close or I have to put her back in,” Lincoln Christian coach Nick Orduna said, referring to Hollenbeck.

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They kept it close enough, getting to halftime tied while Hollenbeck sat out the second quarter with two fouls. She rested the last two minutes of the third quarter, with Mitchell doing the same for 6-2 UNLV signee Keyana Wilfred. Hollenbeck picked up her fourth early in the fourth but stayed in and helped keep Wilfred scoreless for the half.

“(Wilfred) probably hasn’t seen 6-4 from where they come from and we haven’t seen any really true posts,” Orduna said. “I think it bothered her a little bit. I think she was a little more physical than Liv, and Liv just timed it well with some of her touches and the blocks that she had.

“You had two bigs going at it. It was kind of cool to see.”

Mitchell coach Shawn Harvey said the Tigers (25-2) didn’t take full advantage of Hollenbeck’s second-quarter absence.

“The neat thing about that game is neither team could really ever get a real big advantage,” he said. “We didn’t get the looks we wanted there. The rest of their team stepped up and played tough when she was out of the game.”

Mitchell led at the end of the third quarter and was tied with 6:43 left, the time Hollenbeck got her fourth. But she made two free throws followed by two from Allyson Korte. And she went 4 for 4 in the final 23 seconds to hold off the Tigers and finish a 16-point game, which tied Anabelle Gillen for game-high honors.

Wilfred had 11 points in the first half but took three shots in the third quarter and none in the fourth.

“Nobody thought we’d be here. I didn’t think we’d be in the final, to be honest,” Orduna said. “It’s a testimony to the girls, to their growth and embracing the process. It’s why we’re here.”

Lincoln Christian (19-8).........19 7 7 11—44

Mitchell (25-2)....................15 11 8 8—42

LC: Olivia Hollenbeck 16, Barrett Power 12, Allyson Korte 5, Macy Arnold 4, Brielle Power 3, Makylee Ailes 2, Alexis Johnson 2.

M: Anabelle Gillen 16, Keyana Wilfred 11, Bethany Sterkel 5, Ricci Ayala 5, Kenzey Kanno 5.

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.

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