LINCOLN — Defensive pressure and offensive rebounding powered West Point GACC during Thursday’s 56-34 victory over Stanton in first-round play of the Class C-2 state tournament at Lincoln Southwest.
The top-ranked Bluejays (26-1) forced 23 turnovers, including nine in the third quarter, as they extended a 26-18 halftime lead to a 14-point edge heading into the fourth quarter. GACC also thrived on second-chance opportunities, outrebounding the No. 10 Mustangs 13-4 on the offensive glass.
“Defensively, I thought we did a great job,” Bluejays coach Jerry Stracke said. “One thing Stanton really has is a lot of speed and quickness. It took us a little while to get used to that, but once we did, we did a great job, defensively.
“We got out on their shooters and controlled the boards, especially in the first half.”
Breanne Kreikemeier scored 11 points to lead GACC. Kathleen Steuter and Lexis Haase added nine points apiece as eight Bluejays reached the scoring column.
“Depth was a huge advantage for us and has been a strength all yearlong,” Stracke said. “We have some great players who come off the bench and we’ll use that to our advantage. That was especially the case today against a team that played six or seven players most of the way.”
Allison Wade scored nine off the bench to lead Stanton. Mustangs’ leading scorer Hillary Huss was limited to seven points — 11.8 below her season average.
Stanton shot 69.2 percent (9 of 13) in the second and third quarters combined, but was derailed by 15 turnovers during that span.
“They have a great team and they were able to put a tremendous amount of pressure on us,” Stanton coach Greg Wegner said. “We were a little outmatched as far as height goes and they have long arms at almost every position out there.
“The turnovers killed us and rebounding really hurt us in the first half.”
The Bluejays advanced to play No. 5 Superior (25-2) in Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal at the Devaney Center. Stanton finished its season 19-8 after qualifying for its first state tournament since 1990.
“I’m still proud of the girls and how hard they worked to get their school down here to the state tournament for the first time in 26 years,” Wegner said. “It stinks to lose, but when you get beat by a good program like Guardian Angels CC and a classy coach like Jerry, you have nothing to hang your head about.”
Stanton (19-8)........................10 8 12 4—34
West Point GACC (26-1)........14 12 18 12—56
S: MacKenzie Bradl 8, Hiliary Huss 5, Bree Burtwistle 5, Jessie Brandl 5, Leah Arens 2, Alison Wade 9.
WPGACC: Kate Knobbe 8, Katelyn Brown 7, Morgan Bracht 2, Kathleen Steuter 9, Hannah Hunke 4, Lexis Haase 9, Breanne Kreikemeier 11, Madeline Knobbe 6.
Officials: Maschman, Kopecky, Hurt.