WEEPING WATER – The Weeping Water girls didn’t need the luck of the Irish to win their game Thursday night against Falls City Sacred Heart.
They used clutch shooting, quality rebounding and dominant defense instead.
Weeping Water edged Falls City Sacred Heart 44-41 in a battle of ranked teams at Weeping Water Activities Center. Fans watched two of the top lineups in southeast Nebraska play in a game that came down to the final shot.
WWHS head coach Joel Haveman said he was pleased with the squad’s intensity throughout the night. The Indians (18-5) and Irish (21-2) both entered the game with sterling resumes and wanted to end the regular season on positive notes.
“That was a really good win,” Haveman said. “We love playing great teams, and Sacred Heart is certainly that. They’re really good on both ends of the floor and play hard all the time. This is one of those wins that you enjoy, because the girls earned it against a team like that.”
Weeping Water players created a winning cushion with their work on defense in the first quarter. The Indians held FCSH scoreless during the first period and gave up just one offensive rebound against the taller Irish. That allowed the team to build a 12-0 lead by the time the buzzer sounded.
“Our defensive engagement to start out the game was the best I’ve seen all year,” Haveman said. “The girls executed the game plan really well and they did a good job of guarding them and making them work for everything.”
Reagan Aronson and Karley Ridge buried 3-pointers for Weeping Water within the first two minutes, and baskets from Grace Cave and Jamison Twomey stretched the gap to double digits. Twomey’s assist to Ridge early in the second quarter gave the Indians a 15-2 lead.
The Irish responded by flexing their scoring muscles after that. The team produced points on its last six possessions of the half to come within 17-16 at the break. Olivia Eickhoff’s jumper with 1:57 to play in the third quarter then pulled FCSH into the lead at 27-25.
A drive from McKenzie Witt with 3:31 to go kept the Irish in front 36-35. A basket and free throw from Cave put the Indians ahead 38-36, and her assist to Karley Ridge on an inbounds play made it 40-37 with 2:38 left.
Weeping Water kept the Irish from staging a comeback by sinking free throws in pressure-packed moments. Reba Wilson and Twomey each made one free throw and Cave swished a pair of shots in the final 42 seconds. Falls City Sacred Heart had a chance to tie it at the buzzer, but the team’s corner 3-point attempt missed the target.
Ridge and Cave both helped the Indians in multiple ways throughout the night. Ridge took one charge and produced a double-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds, one assist and one steal. Cave poured in 21 points and added three rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block.
Aronson ended the evening with three points, one block, one assist, one steal and two rebounds. Twomey collected five points, two assists and two rebounds, and Wilson pocketed one point and one rebound.
Lexi Mogensen scored three points and Brooklyn Rathe and Ella Cave gave Weeping Water defensive minutes. The three Indians came off the bench to help the team avoid potential foul trouble in the second half.
Haveman said it was important for the Indians to play in a close game against a quality opponent. He said WWHS athletes will likely face similar situations as they advance in postseason brackets.
“We talked about that just now in the locker room,” Haveman said. “If we want to do big things, we need to know that we’re not going to win every game by 30 points. We have to play gutsy and grind out games like we did tonight. If we play defense and make free throws then we’ll be in good shape for games like this.”
Weeping Water will host the Subdistrict D1-2 Tournament at Weeping Water Activities Center. The top-seeded Indians will play in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Weeping Water will face the winner of Monday’s 6 p.m. game between fourth-seeded Humboldt-Table Rock-Steinauer (11-11) and fifth-seeded Pawnee City (6-13).
Second-seeded Southern (17-4) and third-seeded Johnson-Brock (8-12) will play in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The subdistrict championship game will tip off at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18.
Falls City Sacred Heart 0 16 12 13 – 41
Weeping Water 12 5 13 16 – 44
Falls City Sacred Heart (41)
Magdanz 2-9 4-6 9, Eickhoff 5-7 0-0 10, Wertenberger 1-7 2-3 4, Vonderschmidt 3-9 2-2 8, Bippes 0-2 0-0 0, Malone 0-0 0-0 0, Witt 2-7 6-10 10, Littrel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-41 14-21 41.
Weeping Water (44)
Aronson 1-7 0-0 3, Twomey 1-3 2-4 5, G. Cave 6-17 7-7 21, Ridge 4-7 0-1 11, Wilson 0-3 1-2 1, Mogensen 1-2 0-0 3, Rathe 0-0 0-0 0, E. Cave 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-40 10-14 44.