After making a critical turnover in the closing seconds, Omaha Westside’s Quinn Weidemann improbably got a chance at redemption.
The sophomore guard sank a short jumper at the buzzer to lift the fifth-ranked Warriors to a 54-52 road win over third-ranked Bellevue West.
The game was decided in the final minute, which began with Weidemann hitting a pair of free throws to put the Warriors (17-4) on top 52-49. Sophomore center Laura Jurek then hit a clutch 3-pointer from the corner with 47 seconds left to tie the game for Bellevue West (17-5).
The Warriors ran down the clock to about 15 seconds, but Weidemann’s pass near half court was tipped by a leaping Chloe Akin-Otiko and grabbed by her Thunderbirds teammate, Mia Felici.
Akin-Otiko got the ball and drove to the basket, where she was fouled with 5.6 seconds left. She stepped to the line for two free throws as Weidemann could only watch.
“I thought I might have lost us the game,” Weidemann said. “I was pretty nervous because I thought she’d probably make at least one, and maybe two.”
But Akin-Otiko, the Thunderbirds’ leading scorer, missed both foul shots. Westside’s Maya Solarana grabbed the rebound and quickly got the ball to Weidemann.
She drove into the lane and got off her shot just before the horn sounded. The ball swished through the net, giving the defending Class A champions the victory.
“All the good players work on that kind of shot,” Warriors coach Steve Clark said. “She practices those pull-up jumpers all the time, and that one went in.”
Weidemann said she wanted the ball as soon as Solarana grabbed the final rebound.
“I was screaming for it,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure I got my shot off before the buzzer.”
It was a disappointing finish for Akin-Otiko, who finished with a game-high 23 points and 13 rebounds.
“We had our best player on the line, and I really thought she was going to make two,” Thunderbirds coach Rick Mintken said. “Nobody feels worse than Chloe right now, but we’ve got to move on.”
Bellevue West, which defeated Westside 62-45 in the Metro holiday tournament, opened a nine-point lead in the second quarter. But the Warriors trimmed the deficit to five by halftime and then scored the first five points of the third quarter — a layup by Lynsey Curran and a 3-pointer by Weidemann — to get it tied.
“We had that big lead, and it just seemed for a while like we couldn’t score,” Mintken said. “I thought we were playing a little too much like individuals during that stretch and not enough like a team.”
The Warriors held a 42-41 advantage entering the fourth quarter. The lead then bounced back and forth until Jurek’s shot tied it and Weidemann’s shot won it.
“This is a huge win for our confidence,” Clark said. “We’ve lost a couple of close games at the end, so it was nice to get this win.”
Weidemann finished with 20 points, while Curran and Ravionne Pullum each had eight. Freshman Ryley Nolin came off the bench to hit both of her 3-point attempts.
Jurek had 13 for Bellevue West, which plays at Class B No. 2 Elkhorn South on Saturday night.
“Life goes on,” Mintken said. “We’ve got to forget about this one because we’ve got another tough game tomorrow.”
Omaha Westside (17-4) .......................... 13 14 15 12—54
Bellevue West (17-5) .............................. 15 17 9 11—52
OW: Callie Anderson 1-2 1-2 3, Ravionne Pullum 3-8 2-2 8, Ryley Nolin 2-2 0-0 6, Bridget Mizener 1-2 0-0 2, Danielle Dircks 2-2 0-0 4, Lynsey Curran 3-8 0-0 8, Quinn Weidemann 6-12 5-7 20, Maya Solarana 1-4 1-2 3.
BW: Asja Woodard 1-3 1-2 4, Courtney Morehead 1-2 1-2 3, Mia Felici 2-5 0-0 5, Abby Hansen 1-2 0-0 3, Akili Felici 0-6 1-2 1, Chloe Akin-Otiko 7-20 9-13 23, Laura Jurek 6-12 0-2 13.
3-point goals: OW 7-15 (Pullum 0-2, Nolin 2-2, Curran 2-6, Weidemann 3-5); BW 4-12 (Woodard 1-1, M. Felici 1-3, Hansen 1-2, M. Felici 0-1, Akin-Otiko 0-2, Jurek 1-3). Rebounds: OW 29 (Solarana 7); BW 30 (Akin-Otiko 13). Total fouls: OW 14; BW 14. Turnovers: OW 16; BW 9. Field-goal percentage: OW .375; BW .360. Free-throw percentage: OW .692; BW .571.
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