McKenna Sims

South Sioux City’s McKenna Sims makes a pass in last years state tournament. Sims is averaging almost 19 points per game this season.

Though the team has struggled at times, South Sioux City appears to be on the upswing.

Coach Molly Hornbeck’s squad, the preseason No. 1 in Class B, captured the River Cities Conference tournament title Saturday. The Cardinals avenged an earlier loss, defeating host Omaha Skutt 69-59 for the championship.

“I liked this game a lot better than the first time we played them,’’ Hornbeck said. “The bus ride home was much more pleasant.’’

It was the fifth straight RCC tourney title for South Sioux, and the team’s resurgence is reflected in the ratings. The Cardinals were barely holding on at No. 10 the past few weeks but climb to No. 4, just ahead of Skutt.

Much was expected of South Sioux, which returned all but one reserve player from last year’s state runner-up team. But a discipline issue sidelined a few players and another player — Taryn Christensen (10 points per game) — suffered a season-ending knee injury.

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The Cardinals lost three straight after the Christmas break, including a pair to Class C competition. But South Sioux has rattled off five wins in a row, capped by its payback win over Skutt.

“We’re like a different team,’’ Hornbeck said. “We’re playing more confidently, that’s for sure.’’

That confidence was reflected in the 12 3-pointers the team sank against the SkyHawks. That kind of long-range accuracy has been a big part of the Cardinals’ arsenal over the years that has helped produce 12 state championships — more than any other school.

South Sioux also did a better job inside against Skutt senior forward Sydney McDermott. She scored a school-record 35 the first time around but was held to a more modest 21 on Saturday.

“We were better prepared for them the second time,’’ Hornbeck said. “We played their bigs a lot tougher.’’

All-Nebraska guard McKenna Sims leads the attack, averaging almost 19 points per game. Marybeth Rasmussen, who scored a team-high 19 against the SkyHawks, averages almost 13.

The Cardinals hope to ride that RCC tourney momentum into one of their most anticipated games of the season. Weather permitting, South Sioux will host Top 10 No. 2 Millard South on Tuesday night.

The home-and-home series was set to begin last season but the game at Millard South was canceled due to snow. The same thing might happen this year.

“The girls are looking forward to it,’’ Hornbeck said. “We really hope we get a chance to play.’’

Ratings update

Last week’s icy weather led to an abbreviated schedule, but nothing has changed at the top of the Nebraska Top 10.

Papillion-La Vista stays at No. 1 after playing just one game, a 26-point road win over Omaha North. The Monarchs have won 13 in a row since a 75-72 home loss against Omaha Northwest on Dec. 7.

Millard South remains at No. 2 and Omaha Westside stays No. 3. Millard North moves up one slot to fourth and Fremont is now fifth.

Cracking the overall top 10 for the first time are a pair of non-Class A teams that have yet to taste defeat. Class C-1 No. 1 Wahoo moves into the No. 9 position and Class B No. 1 Waverly is No. 10.

The Warriors get a slight edge over the Vikings by virtue of their comparative scores against common opponents.

North Platte St. Pat’s (Class D-1) and Sterling (D-2) hold their No. 1 ratings. The new No. 1 in C-2 is Hastings St. Cecilia, which slips past Oakland-Craig — a 52-49 loser at North Bend on Thursday night — into the top spot.

The Knights bounced back from that first loss to defeat Class A Gretna 71-69 at the Nebraska Prep Classic on Saturday at Creighton’s Sokol Arena. Senior guard Dacey Nelson scored 33 in the overtime victory, including 19 in the fourth quarter.

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Statistics needed

Coaches of Class A, Class B and Omaha-Area teams who don’t update their statistics on MaxPreps are asked to submit updated stats by Wednesday.

They should be emailed to mike.patterson@owh.com.

Top games this week

Class A — Tuesday: Millard South at South Sioux City; Omaha Skutt at Lincoln Pius X; Fremont at Lincoln Southwest. Thursday: Lincoln Southwest at Omaha Westside. Friday: Lincoln East at Papillion-La Vista; Elkhorn South at Millard West. Saturday: Millard West at Fremont; Millard South at Lincoln East.

Class B — Tuesday-Friday: Eastern Midlands Conference tournament. Tuesday-Saturday: Central Conference tournament. Saturday: Omaha Skutt at Louisville.

Class C-1 — Tuesday: Louisville at Auburn. Tuesday-Saturday: Centennial Conference tournament; Nebraska Capitol Conference tournament. Thursday: Auburn at Southern.

Class C-2 — Tuesday: Blue Hill at Lawrence-Nelson; Fillmore Central at Centennial; Sterling at Nebraska City Lourdes; Southern at Falls City Sacred Heart. Thursday: Nebraska City Lourdes at Sidney, Iowa; Yutan at Weeping Water.

Class D-1 — Tuesday: Oakland-Craig at Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family. Thursday: Elgin/Pope John at Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family; Falls City Sacred Heart at Johnson-Brock. Friday: Silver Lake at Lawrence-Nelson.

Class D-2 — Tuesday: North Central at Ewing. Tuesday-Friday: Crossroads Conference tournament. Friday: Bayard at South Platte. Saturday: Wynot at Ponca.

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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