Lincoln — Exeter-Milligan scored six of the final seven points in the last two minutes to advance.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half as turnovers and missed shots down low kept the score down. The Knights led 18-16 at the break and only trailed once — 4-3 in the first quarter — in the opening 16 minutes.
“I don’t mean to use this as an excuse, but we had 16 days off because we were a wild card,” Timberwolves coach Jackson Krejci said. “We’ve had some good practices but we haven’t had a competitive game to play.”
Exeter began to have more success in the third quarter, taking a 20-19 lead on a layup by Hannah Beethe and expanding that advantage to 26-21 with a 3-pointer from Katherine White.
The Knights bounced back after a timeout, going on a 7-2 run to tie it 28-28 before a basket from the right baseline by Betthe put the Timberwolves up heading into the final eight minutes.
Exeter-Milligan started the quarter quickly, this time taking the biggest lead of the game by either team at 37-30 on a layup by Sydney Hall.
Sandhills/Thedford used a 10-1 run to take a 40-38 lead. Hailey Luzum got the lead back for the Timberwolves for good with a 3-pointer for a 41-40 advantage.
That was the final field goal of the game as the Timberwolves sealed the victory by making 4 of 6 free throws in the final 10.3 seconds to advance.
They’ll face Falls City Sacred Heart in the semifinals.
Knights forward Marlee Taylor led all players with 16 points. White and Beethe paced the T-Wolves with 11 points apiece.
Exeter-Milligan (19-6)...................9 7 14 14—44
Sandhills/Thedford (21-5)............10 8 10 13—41
EM: Katherine White 11, Kate Jansky 2, Hannah Beethe 11, Hailey Luzum 5, Sydney Hall 8, Tara Mueller 7.
ST: Marlee Taylor 16, Rebecca Higgins 10, Tristan Haake 4, Kyra Miles 11.
Officials: Van Meter, Fitzke, Spangler.