South Sioux City guard McKenna Sims is the Cardinals' leader both on and off of the court. She learned that from her mom.
Sims, a 5-foot-8 junior, is the daughter of Mindy, a former state champion for the Cardinals who has been instrumental in McKenna's basketball career.
"Ever since I was little she has always had me go to camp, and when I was little I would go watch her play," McKenna said. "She would always sign me up for camps, and then I started playing travel ball and I owe a lot of my on-court progress to my mom."
Sims holds scholarship offers from three Division I schools — UNO, North Dakota and North Dakota State. Division II UNK and Central Missouri have offered as well.
"I am looking for somewhere I feel like home because I won't be home anymore," Sims said. "I will always work hard no matter where I am at."
A hard worker is just one of the traits Sims has. Her 17.1 points and 5.1 assists per game lead the team.
After a semifinal win over Beatrice, the Cardinals have a chance at back-to-back state titles — something they haven't done since winning six straight from 2000-2005.
"It means a lot to get back to the championship game because of how hard we have worked throughout the season," Sims said. "I am very proud of my team."
Sims will once again play for All Nebraska Attack this AAU season and is eager for the experience.
"Going to more places around the country and playing with a good group of girls who know the game is something I am looking forward to," she said. "But we have another game to play before that."
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Millard South's Tess Calder jumps in the arms of Makenna Bray.
Omaha Westside's Quinn Weidemann shoots a basket ahead of Lincoln Southwest's Emma Kauf.
Elkhorn South's Allyson Emsick battles Elkhorn's Maddy Meehan for the ball.
From left: Lincoln Southwest's Skylar Pieper, Caelyn Christiancy, Katie Carpenter and Alaina Lacy react to a foul called on their team late in the game against Omaha Westside.
Lincoln Southwest's Emma Kauf tries to keep a ball from going out of bounds as Omaha Westside's Caroline Leibel guards her.
Lincoln East's Rachel Weber gets a hand on the ball as Millard South's Jayme Horan looks to pass.
Millard South's Madison Krull, left, celebrates her team taking the lead on a 3-pointer while Lincoln East's Taylor Searcey runs in the background.
Lincoln East's Regan Sankey shoots a basket above Millard South's Jayme Horan.
Elkhorn South's Katherine Emsick dribbles against Elkhorn.
Elkhorn's Brooke Carlson battles through contact to put up a shot.
Elkhorn's Brooke Carlson takes a jumper against Elkhorn South.
Elkhorn's Kailee Lawrence and Elkhorn South's Rylee Gray chase after the ball.
Elkhorn celebrates their win against Elkhorn South, advancing the Antlers into the Class B state title game.
Elkhorn coach Jennifer Wragge and assistant coach Ben Meyer embrace, celebrating their win against Elkhorn South.
Elkhorn's Maddy Meehan goes up to the basket.
Elkhorn South's Rylee Gray, left, and Molly Sindelar go up for the ball against Elkhorn's Carly Cameron, center.
The Millard South bench reacts to a 3-pointer from Jayme Horan.
The Lincoln East bench reacts to a big fourth quarter run from Millard South.
Millard South's Jayme Horan, left, talks to Madison Krull.
Lincoln East Delaney Roberts passes the ball in the first half.
Lincoln East's Alli Roh shoots a basket against Millard South.
Elkhorn South coach Terry Graver yells to his team.
Elkhorn's Brooke Carlson goes up for the rebound.
Elkhorn South's Rylee Gray takes a contested shot.
South Sioux City's McKenna Sims and Beatrice's Olivia Aden go up for the rebound.
South Sioux City's Taryn Christensen goes up for a shot as Beatrice's Michaela Jones defends.
South Sioux City's Taryn Christensen shoots as Beatrice's Haley Sexton defends.
Beatrice's Carley Leners shoots as South Sioux City's Tiffany Tinker defends.
Beatrice's Michaela Jones shoots against South Sioux City.
South Sioux City celebrates a free throw against Beatrice.
Beatrice's Addison Barnard, left, Michaela Jones and South Sioux City's Taryn Christensen chase after a loose ball.
South Sioux City's Taryn Christensen passes against Beatrice.
South Sioux City's McKenna Sims passes against Beatrice.
South Sioux City's Taryn Christensen celebrates a made shot.
Beatrice's Michaela Jones and South Sioux City coach Molly Hornbeck hug after South Sioux City's win.
Lincoln East's Regan Sankey shoots over Millard South's Makenna Bray.
Millard South's Makenna Bray, left, fouls Lincoln East's Regan Sankey, while Millard South's Makenzi Hoit, right, watches.
Millard South's Bailey Urban looks to pass around Lincoln East's Delaney Roberts, left, and Alli Roh, right.
Omaha Westside's Elizabeth Robinson looks to pass around Lincoln Southwest's Hannah Kelle, left, and Jaden Ferguson, right.
Lincoln Southwest's Emerson Barada walks off the court as Omaha Westside celebrates their victory.