Defeating a familiar foe for the third time in 10 days will lead Elkhorn to a familiar destination — the state tournament.
The host Antlers beat Bennington 51-39 on Saturday to capture the District B-6 final. Elkhorn, the defending Class B champion, will head to state for the fifth straight year.
The Badgers hadn’t seen the Antlers all season until losing 43-39 on Feb. 7. Bennington fell to Elkhorn 53-38 on Tuesday night in subdistricts before taking the court against the Antlers again Saturday.
“That was kind of strange, and I was highly concerned about it,” Elkhorn coach Jennifer Wragge said. “It was a close game the first time, so we had to be ready.”
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The Antlers were indeed ready, sinking 7 of 8 shots from the field in the first quarter. But Bennington also started strong and trailed 18-15 after the opening period.
The Badgers went cold in the second quarter, hitting 2 of 10 shots. Elkhorn extended its lead by sinking two late baskets — a 3-pointer by Alexa Knott and a layup by Maddie Meehan — to grab a 29-20 halftime advantage.
“We were only down four, but those were two big baskets for them,” Bennington coach John O’Connor said. “I thought that really changed the game.”
Bennington got within seven early in the third quarter but could get no closer. The Badgers sank four 3-pointers in the second half, but the Antlers did enough at both ends of the court to secure the win.
Sophomore Tia Murray scored a game-high 17 points for Elkhorn. Meehan chipped in 12 points while Payton Jakopovic, one of five seniors on the team, finished with 10.
“It was hard playing them a third time like that,” Jakopovic said. “We really focused on 32 (Miley Prine) and tried to slow her down.”
Prine, who leads the Badgers in scoring and rebounding, finished with nine points and three boards.
Jakopovic had a pair of 3-pointers, including one in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away.
“That one felt good,” she said. “It was like the cherry on top.”
Wragge said she knew the Antlers needed to stay aggressive in the final period while holding a double-digit lead.
“We knew they wouldn’t quit,” she said. “So we had to keep scoring.”
Freshman Abby Boyes came off the bench to sink three 3-pointers for the Badgers, but it wasn’t enough. Bennington finishes 14-10, its first winning record in seven seasons.
“I focused on our (five) seniors after the game,” O’Connor said. “They definitely left the program in a better place than it was when they started here.”
Bennington (14-10) …..... 15 5 10 9—39
Elkhorn (19-5) …............. 18 11 12 10—51
B: Whitney Wullenwaber 3, Abby Boyes 9, Madelyn Turner 7, Grace Tetschner 4, Taylor Sedlacek 1, Elizabeth Rupprecht 4, Miley Prine 9, Kylie John 2.
E: Kailee Lawrence 7, Payton Jakopovic 10, Hailey White 2, Maddie Meehan 12, Alexa Knott 3, Tia Murray 17.
B-1 at Waverly
The third-ranked Vikings, who trailed by a point at halftime, outscored the Lady Orange 19-4 in the third quarter. Waverly will make its seventh trip to state and first since 2016.
B-2 at Sidney
The eighth-ranked Lady Raiders (22-3) bounced back from a loss in subdistricts to earn their third straight trip to state and 14th overall. The 15-11 Trojans were seeking their second straight trip to state.
B-3 at Seward
Camryn Opfer sank a late 3-pointer to boost the second-ranked Bluejays pastov the unranked Titans. Seward advances to state for the 15th time, while Norris, which lost to the Bluejays by 21 in subdistricts, finishes the season 11-12.
B-5 at Crete
Crete 50, North Platte 33
Creighton recruit Morgan Maly had a game-high 25 points to lead the top-ranked Cardinals. Crete advances to state for the first time since 2007, while the unranked Bulldogs finish 12-10.
B-8 at South Sioux City
Elkhorn South 52, South Sioux City 50
The ninth-ranked Storm rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to earn their fifth straight trip to state. The sixth-ranked Cardinals, seeking their Class B-leading 24th state tourney berth, will miss the event for the first time since 2012.
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Front row, from left: Whitney Brown, Grand Island Northwest; Lauren West, Millard North; Jayme Horan, Millard South; McKenna Sims, South Sioux City; Morgan Maly, Crete. Back row, from left: Chucky Hepburn, Bellevue West; Charlie Easley, Lincoln Pius X; Akol Arop, Omaha Creighton Prep; Baylor Scheierman, Aurora; John Tonje, Omaha Central.
From left: Shereef Mitchell, Omaha Burke; Payton Brotzki, Platteview; Kanon Koster, Kearney; McKenna Sims, South Sioux City; Brady Heiman, Platteview; Dariauna Lewis, Omaha North; Akol Arop, Omaha Creighton Prep; Brooke Carlson, Elkhorn; Sam Griesel, Lincoln East; and Quinn Weidemann, Omaha Westside.
Sitting, from left: Jaden Wrightsell, Omaha Northwest; McKenna Minter, Lincoln Northeast; Teddy Allen, Boys Town. Standing, from left: Chloe Dworak, Lincoln Christian; Quinn Weidemann, Omaha Westside; McKenna Simms, South Sioux City; Aguek Arop, Omaha South; Ed Chang, Papillion-La Vista; Kanon Koster, Kearney; Ayo Akinwole, Papillion-La Vista.
Front from left: Quinn Weidemann, Omaha Westide; Aguek Arop, Omaha South; Grace Berry, Lincoln East; Caleal Walker, Omaha South; and Skyler Snider, Kearney. Back from left: Ed Chang, Papillion-La Vista; Rylie Cascio Jensen, Fremont; Nate Schimonitz, Omaha Creighton Prep; Ryan Williams, Fremont; and Chloe Akin-Otiko, Bellevue West.
Front from left: Jay Bridgeman, Omaha Westside; Kianna Ibis, Omaha Benson; Jessica Shepard, Fremont; Maddie Simon, Lincoln Pius X; Jaycee Bradley, Norfolk. Back from left: Tyler Hagedorn, Norfolk; Adam Dykman, Fremont Bergan; Justin Patton, Omaha North; Drew Homa, Omaha Creighton Prep; Malik Hluchoweckyj, Bellevue West.
Top from left: Chatrice White, Shelby-Rising City; Khyri Thomas, Omaha Benson; Jessica Shepard, Fremont. Front from left: Mitchell Hahn, Fremont; Malik Hluchoweckyj, Bellevue West; McKenzie Brown, Grand Island Northwest; Tre'Shawn Thurman, Omaha Central; Maddie Simon, Lincoln Pius X; Kevin Metoyer, Omaha Westside; Kianna Ibis, Omaha Benson.
Front from left: Alexa Kastanek, Lincoln Southeast (wearing rainbow hat); Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha Central (holding book); Lauren Works, Lincoln Southwest (wearing fedora); McKenzie Brown, Grand Island Northwest (holding basketball and balloon). Middle from left: Brett Dougherty, Papillion-La Vista (wearing marching band hat); Jessica Shepard, Lincoln Southeast (holding bear); Akoy Agau, Omaha Central (holding trophy); Kianna Ibis, Omaha Benson (waving towel). Back from left: Cam Williams, Omaha South (holding pom poms); Connor Lusso, Millard West (wearing birthday cake hat).
Front from left: Akoy Agau, Omaha Central; Jessica Shepard, Lincoln Southeast; Josiah Gustafson, Millard North; Brianna Rollerson, Omaha Central; Beth Bohuslavsky, Seward; Mike Gesell, South Sioux City. Back from left: Chelsea Mason, Bellevue West; Dylan Travis, Omaha Gross; Jalen Bradley, Norfolk; Brianna Craig, Lincoln Northeast.
Front from left: Hailey Mandelko, Lexington; Galen Gullie, Omaha Bryan; Emily Cady, Seward; Mike Gesell, South Sioux City. Middle from left: Akoy Agau, Omaha Central; Chelsea Mason, Bellevue West; Jalen Bradley, Norfolk; Alexis Akin-Otiko, Bellevue West. Back from left: Jayla Hobza, Bellevue East; CJ Carter, Omaha Benson.
Clockwise from top left: Alexis Akin-Otiko, Bellevue West; Jordan Hooper, Alliance; Deverell Biggs, Omaha Central; Dwight Smith, Ralston; Elliott Eliason, Chadron; Austin Kaczor, Ewing; Mike Gesell, South Sioux City; Nicole Arp; Kearney; Sarah Nelson, Omaha Westside; Emily Cady, Seward.
Bottom from left: Austin Kaczor, Ewing; Isiah Gandy, Boys Town; Elliott Eliason, Chadron; Jarrell Crayton, Bellevue East; Greg Smith, Ralston. Top from left of page: Marissa Kastanek, Lincoln Southeast; Emily Hauder, Bellevue West; Jordan Hooper, Alliance; KK Houser, Lincoln Southeast; Sarah Nelson, Omaha Westside.
From left: Antoine Young, Bellevue West; Jordan Hooper, Alliance; Josh Jones, Omaha Central; Marissa Kastanek, Lincoln Southeast; Wes Eikmeier, Fremont Bergan; KK Houser, Lincoln Southeast; Jarell Crayton, Bellevue East; McKayla Knudson, South Sioux City; Jesse Carr, Ainsworth; Nicole Brungardt, Norfolk Catholic.
Clockwise from top left: Kellie Nelson, Omaha Westside; Dominique Kelley, Lincoln Northeast; Kelsey Woodard, Bellevue West; Amber Hegge, Crofton; Jesse Carr, Ainsworth; Josh Jones, Omaha Central; Wes Eikmeier, Fremont Bergan; Antoine Young, Bellevue West; Mitch Albers, Papillion-La Vista; Jasmine Johnson, Omaha Central.
From left: Antoine Young, Bellevue West; Brooke Delano, Bellevue West; Matt Hill, Lincoln Southeast; Dominique Kelly, Lincoln Northeast; Yvonne Turner, Bellevue East; Andrew Bridger, Lincoln Northeast; Tyler Bullock, Lincoln North Star; Katie Frank, South Sioux City; Samantha Schuett, Millard West; Avery Tyler, Omaha Bryan.
From left: Samantha Schuett, Millard West; Katie Frank, South Sioux City; Matt Culliver, Omaha Bryan; Andrew Bridger, Lincoln Northeast; Matt Hill, Lincoln Southeast; Katie Smith, Omaha Skutt; Zach Potter, Omaha Creighton Prep; Yvonne Turner, Bellevue East; Megan Neuvirth, West Point GACC, Josh Dotzler, Bellevue West.