World-Herald staff writer Mike Patterson previews and predicts Friday's semifinal games in the Nebraska girls state basketball tournament.
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Lincoln Southwest (21-5) vs. Lincoln Northeast (24-2), 7 p.m. at Pinnacle
The game: The Silver Hawks pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat Millard West 59-51 in a first-rounder, avenging an earlier loss against the Wildcats. The Rockets had an easier time in their semifinal, posting an 18-point win over Kearney.
The pick: Northeast looked good in its state tourney opener so we’ll go with the Rockets to post their third win this season over Southwest.
Millard South (24-3) vs. Lincoln Pius X (16-7), 8:45 p.m. at Pinnacle
The game: Omaha Northwest gave the Patriots all they wanted in Thursday’s first round before falling short 47-43 after a pair of clinching free throws from Lauren Sanders. The Thunderbolts played their traditional tough defense in the late game, defeating defending champion Lincoln East.
The pick: Tough call but a slight edge to Millard South to play for its first title since 1996.
South Sioux City (24-2) vs. York (23-3), 2 p.m. at Pinnacle
The game: The Cardinals got a strong game from their starting guards — McKenna Sims and Kori Fischer, who combined for 33 points — to pull away from Gretna in the first round. York needed overtime to finally put away a stubborn Elkhorn team 41-37.
The pick: The Dukes did well to outlast the Antlers but the Cardinals will present an even bigger challenge. Look for South Sioux to move on to the final in quest of its state-record 12th title.
Seward (19-6) vs. Norris (18-6), 3:45 p.m. at Pinnacle
The game: The eighth-seeded Bluejays pulled the upset, ousting defending champion Elkhorn South 38-37 in first-round action. The Titans were pushed by Sidney but managed to prevail.
The pick: This will be a rematch of the district final, won 32-30 by Seward. Slight edge to Norris, the last remaining Eastern Midlands Conference team.
Kearney Catholic (28-0) vs. Ord (22-4), 9 a.m. at Pinnacle
The game: The undefeated Stars struggled against sixth-seeded Malcolm on Thursday before eventually winning 37-31. The seventh-seeded Chanticleers rolled to a 19-point win over Mitchell, handing the Tigers just their second loss.
The pick: Ord lost by 16 against Kearney Catholic early in the season. This game should be closer but look for the Stars to reach the final in hopes of defending their title.
Lincoln Christian (24-1) vs. Wahoo Neumann (21-3), 10:45 a.m. at Pinnacle
The game: The all-class No. 1-ranked Crusaders rolled past Columbus Scotus on Thursday but an injury to high-scoring guard Chloe Dworak is something that might impact Christian’s state tourney chances. The Cavaliers outlasted Lousiville 60-53 in one of the higher scoring first-rounders.
The pick: Christian is 3-1 against Neumann this year and a fourth win was expected until Dworak got hurt. We’ll stick with the Crusaders but this one should be close.
Ravenna (22-4) vs. Diller-Odell (21-4), 2 p.m. at Devaney Center
The game: The Bluejays got 29 points from Megan Miigerl in a 57-44 first-round win over North Platte St. Pat’s. The eighth-seeded Griffins pulled the big upset on opening day, ousting five-time defending state champion Crofton 52-45.
The pick: With Crofton getting sent home, this C-2 bracket is in disarray. Credit to Diller-Odell, but let’s go with Ravenna to move on to the final.
Howells-Dodge (23-3) vs. Ponca (22-4), 3:45 p.m. at Devaney Center
The game: The Jaguars had little trouble on Thursday, posting a 17-point win over Cambridge. The seventh-seeded Indians added to the upheaval in this class, upsetting second-seeded Hastings St. Cecilia 45-43. The top two seeds are now out.
The pick: Close call but the Indians are riding the momentum, so we’ll say Ponca moves on to the final.
West Point GACC (22-2) vs. North Central (20-3), 9 a.m. at Devaney Center
The game: The top-seeded Bluejays struggled with eighth-seeded Meridian on Thursday before eventually prevailing 37-29. The Knights, making their first state tourney appearance, were impressive in a 66-51 first-round win over Elm Creek.
The pick: We’ll stick with GACC to reach the final but the team will need to bring its “A” game against a high-scoring North Central squad.
Dundy County-Stratton (26-0) vs. Heartland (22-4), at 10:45 a.m. Devaney Center
The game: The Tigers remained one of only two unbeaten teams left in the state, outlasting Pender 47-40 in the first round. The Huskies won a low-scoring game against Elgin/Pope John 34-24 as Leslie Braun scored 12 to lead the way.
The pick: Dundy County-Stratton shows no sign of perfect-record jitters so we’ll stick with the Tigers to advance to the final in quest of its first state title.
Exeter-Milligan (19-6) vs. FC Sacred Heart (25-1), 7 p.m. at Devaney Center
The game: The Timberwolves trailed by two at halftime but rallied in the second half to oust Sandhills/Thedford on Thursday. The Irish got 19 points from Jade Hill in a 22-point first-round win over Potter-Dix.
The pick: Exeter-Milligan appears back on track after a perplexing loss to unranked Dorchester in subdistricts, but we’ll stick with Sacred Heart to move on to the final.
O’Neill St. Mary’s (21-4) vs. Wynot (20-4) 8:45 p.m., Devaney Center
The game: The Cardinals dispatched Spalding Academy by 18 on Thursday while the Blue Devils ended the dream run of six-member Red Cloud, posting a 52-30 victory. This will be a rematch of the district final, won by St. Mary’s 54-49.
The pick: A toss-up but we picked Wynot to take state so we can’t turn back now. Blue Devils win a squeaker.