STANTON — In a battle between undefeated teams, the Stanton girls basketball team downed Hartington-Newcastle 49-40 in overtime Friday night to win the championship game of the Stanton Holiday Tournament.

Later, the O’Neill boys also remained unbeaten by downing the West Holt Huskies 60-43 to earn the boys title.

“We knew they were a good ball team coming in, and I told my kids this was going to be like a state tournament game,” Mustangs coach Greg Wegner said. “Everything that we want to see, they have — they have good shooters, they’re good on the inside, they’re quick and athletic, and they have answers for everything you have.”

Stanton — now 10-0 — got off to a good start, beginning with a 3 and a putback by Liz Christensen, followed by a jumper from Bree Burtwhistle, to lead 7-0. Meanwhile, the Mustangs’ 2-3 zone limited Hartington-Newcastle (7-1) to just one made field goal during the first quarter and, when Christensen added another 3 as time ran out, Stanton led 11-5.

Christensen would go on to lead Stanton in scoring with 16 points, but the Mustangs’ defense continued to frustrate the Wildcats’ offensive effort by limiting 6-foot-1 junior Belle Harms’ chances inside.

Harms, who scored H-N’s lone first-quarter bucket (finishing 2 of 9 from the field with six points), added just two free throws in the second period, until Abbe Morten’s 3 at the buzzer from the right wing reduced Stanton’s lead to 15-11 at halftime and provided the Wildcats with momentum that showed itself immediately to begin the third period.

Back-to-back 3s by Allie Rosener and Willa Scoville, along with a free throw by Morten, had H-N leading 18-15 before Stanton responded with an 8-0 run—triggered by Jessie Brandl’s jumper from the right elbow.

“I told the girls before the game there were going to be runs; they’re going to come back and we’re going to have to answer,” Wegner said. “We came out and missed two two-footers, and they came down and hit two 3s. That moment just totally shifted the game.”

Scoville and Morten each scored to cut Stanton’s lead to 23-22 entering the final quarter, and the Wildcats continued their offensive with a 10-3 run that led to a 32-26 advantage before the Mustangs were able to respond with a 7-2 run to force overtime with a critical 3 by Brandl.

With just over nine seconds remaining in regulation and trailing 34-31, Wegner’s timeout set up a Stanton inbounds play from the sideline. His plan was for Brandl to throw the ball in, get it back and take the shot.

“At first I was kind of shocked, because I was 0 for 6 and wasn’t making anything,” Brandl said. “He told me I had to bury it, and I was like, ‘What?’”

In the overtime, Stanton converted 11 of 12 free throws and added a pair of baskets inside by Hannah Heppner to outscore the Wildcats 15-6 and clinch the championship 49-40.

“I thought we really played well in overtime and so did they, but every possession we got a bucket or free throws,” Wegner said. “It was just huge in that overtime to make those free throws — we’d been struggling from the free-throw line lately.”

Brandl contributed 11 points for Stanton, with Heppner adding nine. Scoville led H-N with 12 points.

In the boys championship game — a game which featured ragged play by both teams — Class C-1 O’Neill, now 8-0, took a 13-10 lead after one quarter and, although West Holt’s Mason Hale briefly tied the score at 13-13 with a 3 to open the second period, took control of the game with a 10-0 run—concluding with consecutive 3s by Justin Appleby—to end the half, then led the rest of the game en route to its 60-43 win.

Appleby finished with 17 points, while teammate Alex Thramer led all scorers with 18. Wyatt Liewer also finished in double figures with 11.

“Whether it looks good or not, we like the ‘W’ — we like how it turned out,” O’Neill coach Seth Kallhoff said.

The Eagles, Kallhoff said, are “always fighting for this championship and have won the last three, for sure.”

“It’s always a fun atmosphere; it’s a great tournament,” he said.

Class D-2’s West Holt — now 7-1 — was able to close to within eight, 35-27, on Shayden Neptune’s 3 midway through the third period, but six more points from Appleby and an offensive rebound-putback returned the Eagles’ advantage to 43-30 by the end of the quarter, and O’Neill outscored the Huskies 17-11 in the final eight minutes to maintain control of the game and secure the 60-43 win.

“We got in some foul trouble and turned the ball over, and it just kind of got in our heads a little bit; we’ve got to adjust better,” Kallhoff said. “That’s a great West Holt team, and we need more games like that to push us.”

Hartington-Newcastle girls.....5 6 11 12 6 — 40

Stanton................... 11 4 8 11 15 — 49

H-N (7-1): Liby Lange 0-1 0-0 0, Abbe Morten 2-6 3-7 8, Allie Rosener 2-10 2-4 7, Willa Scoville 3-12 6-9 12, Karli McCain 2-4 0-0 4, Bell Harms 2-9 2-3 6, Gina Jueden 0-3 3-4 3. Totals: 11-45 16-27 40.

Stanton (10-0): Jaiden Hartl 1-6 1-2 3, Bree Burtwhistle 3-8 0-1 6, Jessie Brandl 2-11 6-7 11, 3-10 3-4 9, Liz Christensen 5-13 2-2 16, Allie Spence 1-3 2-3 4. Totals: 15-51 14-19 49.

O’Neill..........13 18 12 17 — 60

West Holt..........10 10 10 13 — 43

O’Neill (8-0): Trevor Dempster 0-2 0-0 0, Alex Thramer 9-15 0-2 18, Dennis Hererra 2-3 0-0 5, Justin Appleby 5-12 4-4 17, Wyatt Liewer 3-9 3-4 11, Kolby Dean 1-3 1-3 3, Francisco Perez 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 22-48 8-13 60.

West Holt (7-1): Shayden Neptune 3-10 3-4 11, Bryce Kerkman 7-19 2-4 16, Mason Hale 1-4 0-0 3, Devon Dohrman 0-1 4-4- 4, Payton Williams 2-5 1-2 5, Garrison Hansen 0-1 0-0 0, Blake Hilkemeier 0-4 0-0 0, Jordan Tasler 0-1 0-0 0, Kooper Jelinek 1-4 0-0 2, Joseph Seger 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 15-50 10-14 43.

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