Lincoln Southwest built a 16-point halftime lead and held off a late charge by Fremont High School to down the Tigers 62-56 on Friday night in the Al Bahe Gymnasium.
The Silver Hawks, rated ninth in Class A by the Lincoln Journal Star, shot 55 percent (15 of 27) in the first half while building a 38-22 lead at the break. The Tigers, ranked fifth, got within five and had the ball in the final minutes, but couldn’t get any closer.
“We were really proud of the way we played in that second half,” Fremont coach Kelly Flynn said. “When you are down 16, it would be easy to fold and think it is over, but we showed that we can score points in a hurry. ... We got close in the second half, but just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Jaden Ferguson, who led the Silver Hawks with 17 points and five rebounds, scored to open the third quarter and extend the deficit to 40-22. Taylor McCabe hit back-to-back 3-point field goals and fellow freshman Sarah Shepard added another trey to pull the Tigers to within 42-31.
Shepard was part of a group of reserves, including Macy Bryant, Charli Earth and Bella Keaton, that gave the Tigers a spark in the third quarter.
“That is kind of what we expect out of that group,” Flynn said. “They come in and give us a lift. I thought Sarah had a really good second half.”
Keaton, Earth and Shepard combined for six straight points to trim the deficit to 42-37, but Ferguson ended the run with a traditional three-point play. Southwest led 48-41 entering the final eight minutes.
Shepard and Tessa Chicoine hit a 3-point field goal apiece to make it 54-49 with less than 3 minutes to play. A turnover by the Silver Hawks gave the Tigers a chance to creep closer, but Katie Carpenter got a steal and converted a layup to push that advantage back to seven points.
“We had cut it to four or five late in the game and had that side out. We had a 3-point (play) set up, but we had a turnover and gave them a layup,” Flynn said. “There were just a couple little things like that that if we clean up, I think we can get them next time.”
The Tigers will face the Silver Hawks on Jan. 22 in Lincoln for the championship of the Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament. The first two days of the December tournament were postponed due to weather forcing the championship game to be rescheduled for later in January.
“We get a chance to play them again in 10 days,” Flynn said. “We’ll get back to work and hopefully have a different result like we did the second time we faced (Lincoln) Pius.”
The Tigers, 9-3, lost to Pius on the opening weekend, but rebounded to beat the Thunderbolts in the HAC semifinals.
McCabe led Fremont with 19 points. Seniors Jaylee Cone and Tessa Chicoine joined Shepard with eight each. Sydney Golladay had a team-best nine assists and Chicoine had six rebounds.
Kate Dilsaver had 11 points and four rebounds for the Silver Hawks, who improve to 11-2. Carpenter added 10 points, including an 8-for-10 performance from the free throw line.
The Silver Hawks outrebounded the Tigers 33-22 with Wells grabbing a game-high six boards.
Fremont plays at 2 Saturday afternoon at Omaha Bryan.
Fremont 10 12 19 15 — 56
Southwest 20 18 10 14 — 62
Southwest — Katie Carpenter 10, Emerson Barada 3, Skylar Pieper 7, Jaden Ferguson 17, Kate Dilsaver 11, Hannah Kelle 4, Raegan Wells 10.
Fremont — Sydney Golladay 4, Madi Moore 2, Taylor McCabe 19, Tessa Chicoine 8, Bella Keaton 2, Emma Shepard 3, Sarah Shepard 8, Charli Earth 2, Jaylee Cone 8.
3-point field goals — Pieper 2, McCabe 4, Chicoine 2, E. Shepard, S. Shepard 2, Cone. Rebounds: LSW 33 (Wells 6), FHS 22 (Chicoine 6). Turnovers: LSW 11, F 11.