Volleyball will be Rylee Gray’s sport in college, but it was her basketball skills on display Saturday night.
The 6-foot-2 freshman had 19 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to lead host Elkhorn South to a 57-47 victory over Gretna in the Class B-8 girls district final. The 13-12 Storm advance to state while the Dragons’ season ends at 14-8.
Gray was scheduled to compete with her Nebraska Elite club volleyball team in a major tournament this weekend at the CenturyLink Center, but opted to play basketball. That was a good thing for Elkhorn South, which needed her scoring and inside presence.
“Her (volleyball) coach told her to decide what she wanted to do,’’ Storm coach Terry Graver said. “I’m glad she was here.’’
Graver said he expected a close game, considering what happened Monday night. Elkhorn South rallied to post a 41-39 overtime win over Gretna in a first-round subdistrict game.
“I guess this is a little easier loss to swallow than that last one,’’ Dragons coach Jerome Skrdla said. “I thought their defense helped turn the game around.’’
The Storm jumped to a 10-point lead in the first quarter but the Dragons rallied in the second. They took advantage of eight Elkhorn South turnovers in the period and grabbed a 26-21 lead at intermission.
“Coach told us at halftime that we needed to calm down,’’ Gray said. “We weren’t playing our game in that second quarter.’’
Gretna extended its advantage to seven in the third quarter before the Storm got rolling. They went on a 14-0 run to turn a 30-23 deficit into a 37-30 lead.
“I was disappointed in our play in the second quarter but we came back and played great in the third,’’ Graver said. “That turned the game around.’’
Gretna wasn’t finished and trimmed the deficit to four in the fourth quarter. But Elkhorn South put the game away at the free-throw line, sinking 18 of 20 free throws in the final period.
“We made the game too easy for them in the fourth quarter,’’ Skrdla said. “We just couldn’t quite get it done tonight.’’
Ally Emsick added 11 points for the Storm, who earned their fourth straight trip to state and fifth overall. Elkhorn South won the title in 2016.
Faith Ross scored 15 points and Avery Kallman added 12 for the Dragons, who were seeking their sixth state tourney berth in the past seven years.
“It’s tough not getting to state,’’ Skrdla said. “But we hurt ourself with a few losses during the season and to play this game at their place was a pretty tall order.’’
Gray, who is receiving considerable Division I volleyball recruiting interest, said she would be competing with her club team Sunday.
“I’m glad I was able to help tonight,’’ she said. “We really wanted this game for our seniors.’’
Gretna (14-8) ................. 8 18 4 17—47
Elkhorn South (13-12) ... 15 6 16 20—57
G: Abbie Huffman 6, Alexis Spier 3, Chelsea Anderson 3, Hanna Spearman 3, Faith Ross 15, Avery Kallman 12, Madison Haddix 5.
ES: Lily Ziemkiewicz 7, Katie Emsick 2, Kassie Gibbons 8, Ally Emsick 11, Reese Baltzell 2, Rylee Gray 19, Molly Sindelar 8.