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

Waverly 48, Beatrice 30

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

Sidney 42, Platteview 37

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

Seward 47, Norris 46

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.

Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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