The first six minutes belonged to Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.
But the final 26 minutes and, ultimately, the game belonged to Stanton as the Mustangs turned up the defensive pressure for a 48-32 win in the Class C2-5 subdistrict final at the Norfolk Catholic Activities Center on Thursday.
"We were ready to go, and I think we played a nice first half,” HLHF coach Travis Friesen said. “They did a nice job forcing us into turnovers and making us uncomfortable. Stanton played well. They’re 18-7 for a reason. They’re a good ball club, and they were able tonight to make more plays.”
Trailing 12-2 with 2:10 left, Stanton used a 9-0 run to pull to within 12-11 on a Hiliary Huss 3-pointer late in the first quarter. And after the Mustangs had pulled even at halftime, Huss knocked down a pair of 3s to ignite a 7-0 run to give Stanton a 30-23 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
“She does that. She’s a very streaky shooter sometimes, but she just keeps shooting,” Stanton coach Greg Wegner said. “She’s very confident in herself, and she should be because she is a good player. She hit one and then another one, and we knew she was hot so we just kept getting her the ball.”
Tarrin Beller answered with a 3 for the Bulldogs with 5:32 left in the quarter, but Stanton scored 13 of the next 16 points and stretched the lead to 43-29 on a pair of free throws by freshman Bree Burtwistle with 4:19 left in the game.
Against a 2-2-1 press that forced 26 turnovers in the game, HLHF was unable to cut the lead to single digits down the stretch.
Huss, a 5-foot-7 senior, and junior MacKenzie Brandl keyed the Stanton pressure in the backcourt. Huss finished with eight steals, Brandl added three steals and three blocked shots -- all on 3-pointers -- and Stanton turned the Bulldogs' 26 turnovers into 19 points.
"It's a blessing to have two athletes of that caliber," Wegner said. "They're by far my biggest competitors, and they're definitely the leaders of this team. They show it on the court, they show it in practice and all the other girls just follow after it.
The points of turnovers helped the Mustangs overcome a 13 of 29 performance at the free-throw line and a 5 of 28 effort from beyond the arc. Huss connected on four of those 3s and finished with a game-high 23 points, bringing Stanton within a game of its first trip to state since 1990.
The Mustangs will face East Husker Conference rival Twin River, which upset Shelby-Rising City, in next Friday's C2-3 district final.
“We feel like we have a chance because we have good athletes but, who knows? Everybody’s good at this stage,” Wegner said. “We’re just hoping to get down to Lincoln. If we play well, I think we can.”
Frauendorfer scored 14 of her team-high 17 points in the first half as the Bulldogs finished 11 of 45 from the field after a 5 of 11 first-quarter effort. Beller, one of two seniors on the HLHF roster, added 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Bulldogs finish the year at 16-8.
“I’m proud of our girls. They competed and battled to the end, but it just wasn’t our night,” Friesen said. “I’m very proud of the girls we have coming back, and I’m very proud of Tarrin and Emily (Preister) for everything they’ve done for our program.”
Class C2-5 subdistrict final
Humphrey/LHF ............... 14 9 5 4 - 32
Stanton ............................ 11 12 17 8 - 48
HUMPHREY/LINDSAY HOLY FAMILY (16-8): Morgan Frauendorfer 6-14 3-5 17, Jenna Beller 1-3 0-0 2, Molly Dohmen 0-1 0-0 0, Emily Preister 0-5 0-0 0, Tarrin Beller 3-18 4-9 11, Brooke Johnson 0-2 0-0 0, Taya Beller 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 11-45 7-14 32.
STANTON (18-7): MacKenzie Brandl 1-10 0-0 3, Hiliary Huss 7-19 5-12 23, Bree Burtwistle 1-3 2-2 4, Jessie Brandl 1-10 2-7 5, Leah Arens 2-2 2-3 6, Ali Wade 2-9 2-5 6, Hannah Heppner 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 15-54 13-29 48.
3-point field goals: HLHF 3-16 (Frauendorfer 2-6, Tar. Beller 1-6); STA 5-28 (Huuss 4-12, M. Brandl 1-7). Rebounds: HLHF 40 (Tar. Beller 13, Frauendorfer 9, J. Beller 7, Preister 4); STA 33 (J. Brandl 12, Burtwistle 6, M. Brandl 5, Huss 4). Assists: HLHF 7 (Preister 4, Frauendorfer 2); STA 11 (M. Brandl 6, Huss 2, J. Brandl 2). Steals: HLHF 4 (Tar. Beller 2); STA 16 (Huss 8, M. Brandl 4, J. Brandl 3). Blocked shots: HLHF 4 (Tar. Beller 3); STA 5 (M. Brandl 3, Wade 2).