OAKLAND – Only one game and Class C1 power points stand in the way of West Point-Beemer earning a berth in the State Girls Basketball Tournament.
The Cadets threw a wrench in Fort Calhoun’s shift to a 1-3-1 defense from its previous matchup on Jan. 5 in which WP-B won by four and took advantage of Pioneer turnovers to win the C1-6 Subdistrict final 47-40 Thursday in Oakland.
Cadets coach Craig Theis said afterward he believed that his team would likely face Wahoo Neumann, which beat crosstown rival Wahoo Thursday, in the district final, and he surmised that Pierce would draw a wildcard bid for State, though it lost to Wayne by two in overtime. Prior to Thursday’s games, WP-B stood sixth in power points behind Lincoln Christian, Kearney Catholic, Chadron, Louisville and Pierce. Besides Pierce, Chadron failed to advance to the district final.
On the hard court, Fort Calhoun’s shift in defense initially threw West Point-Beemer for a loop as it was forced to shoot more from the outside. But the Cadet offense caught fire in the second as it outscored the Pioneers 19-9 — undeterred by 10 first-half fouls that put FC in the bonus — with three treys by Amanda Hansen and McKenzie Bruce to take a 30-19 lead at halftime.
The Cadets’ man-to-man defense thwarted Fort Calhoun’s efforts to generate much offense in the paint by holding 6-foot-1 center Rylee Marshall to just two points — both free throws. Though the Pioneers showed quickness with stealing attempts throughout the game, they committed several ball-handling turnovers that gave WP-B an advantage.
While both teams struggled in the third quarter to produce, the Cadets forced FC to switch to a man-to-man defense with its slower pace of several passes to find the open shot. They came alive in the fourth.
The Pioneers came within three at 36-33 with about 3:25 left on Lauren Nelson’s long pass to Hanna Lazure for an easy layup, layup by Jordan Coulter and a Nelson free throw — as the Cadets had a three-minute scoring drought that began at 6:24. But West Point-Beemer hit 13 of 18 free throws in the fourth to put the game just out of reach, with leading scorer Hansen sinking 8 of 10 as part of her 21 points.
The Cadets move to 22-4, as the Pioneers finish 13-10.
West Point-Beemer (22-4).............................11 19 4 13 – 47
Fort Calhoun (13-10).....................................10 9 5 16 – 40
WPB: McKenzie Bruce 2-6, 4-8, 10; Amanda Hansen 5-11, 8-10, 21; Taylor Weddle 2-4, 3-6, 7; Brooke Wegner 0-0, 2-2, 2; Makenna Weddle 1-2, 0-2, 2; Brittney Hinkel 0-2, 0-0, 0; Bethany Anderson 2-3, 1-4, 5.
FC: Dacey Boudle 1-3, 3-4, 5; Taya Skelton 0-1 1-2, 1; Tessa Dethlefs 0-2, 1-2, 1; Hanna Lazure 4-5, 0-1, 10; Rylee Marshall 0-6, 2-2, 2; Lauren Nelson 4-6, 4-7, 12; Jordan Coulter 3-6, 1-2, 9; Brooke Sutherland 0-0, 0-2, 0.