2020 Girls High School State Basketball Opening Round Preview, Results
By: Dave Collins, Eagle Radio Sports Director
Thursday, March 5
B - #5 Sidney 44, #4 GINW 47 - F
9:45 a.m. (MT) - Pinnacle Bank Arena
Game Notes: Katelyn Sylvester led Sidney with 19 points, Nicole Birner scored 12...The Vikings used a 20-7 third quarter run to take control...Sidney has not won a state game since 1984.
A pair of teams that were in last year's Class B tournament will meet this year in the opening round. Sidney dropped a 51-37 decision to Elkhorn South, the 10th consecutive opening round loss for the Lady Raiders, while Grand Island Northwest went on to win its fourth state championship.
Sidney and Northwest met in the 2014 tourney, a 65-44 GINW win on its way to a state title, which was also the last time the Vikings had gone to state before last season's championship run.
Sidney comes into state with a 19-6 mark and a district championship win over the Blair Bears, grinding out a season-low of points in a victory, 34-28.
GINW is 21-5 and enters on a six-game winning streak, champions of the B4 district with a 57-41 win over Omaha Mercy.
The Vikings have four upperclassmen players who can break out and score, led by senior guard Whitney Brown (17.8 ppg) and senior forward Lauren Hauser (10 ppg).
Sidney may end up reliant on insiders, 6'0" senior forward Mattie Johnson (14.7 ppg) and 6'0" junior Karly Sylvester (9.4 ppg).
Senior guard Nicole Birner is Sidney's third leading rebounder and also adds in almost nine points a game.
B - #6 Scottsbluff 57, #3 Bennington 47
7:45 p.m. (MT) - Devaney Center
Semifinals Friday: Beatrice 43, Scottsbluff 26
Preview: The Scottsbluff Bearcats are making their fifth trip to state basketball, and first since 2016. Bennington hasn't been in 11 years and also makes its fifth state appearance in school history.
After taking down rival Sidney in the sub-district finals Scottsbluff (16-10) handed Omaha Gross Catholic a rout in the B-6 championship 62-49 to come into state with a four-game winning streak.
Bennington has won seven consecutive games and took down Omaha Skutt Catholic in the B-3 finals by 22, not a huge surprise seeing as Skutt finished 6-19 on the year.
Senior guard Yara Garcia will be crucial for the Bearcats. The Cats leading scorer (16.2 ppg) and rebounder (5.53 rpg) will have to stay out of foul trouble and find success against a Badger defense that surely will be looking to stop her first.
Guards Aubrey Krentz and Payton Burda are part of a deep Bearcat backcourt and hope to take some of the burden off Garcia.
Bennington features a trio of double-figure scorers led by senior guards Miley Prine (17.5 ppg) and Grace Tetschner (10.6 ppg). Junior Abigale Boyes (10.4 ppg) finishes the group that also makes up Bennington's top three rebounders.
C1 - #2 Chadron 30, #7 Adams Central 44 - F
1:00 p.m. (MT) - Devaney Center
Game Notes: Chadron's Olivia Reed led the Cardinals in scoring with 13 points...Chadron suffered through a scoring drought in the second and third quarters with just eight total points...The Cardinals season ends at 23-3.
Chadron is back in the state basketball mix for the first time since 2016 and looking for its second title (C1/2000).
The 23-win Cardinals have just two setbacks this year and come in with a nine-game winning streak as champions of the C1-2 district.
Adams Central can't match those numbers (16-10) but did play a challenging schedule and defeated 23-3 Broken Bow in the district finals 52-37.
Youth in the paint will be a strength for Chadron. Sophomore 6'0" forward Olivia Reed will be a load for the Patriots defense to handle, she's scoring 17 a game to go along with seven rebounds. Freshman Anika Burke is 6'3" and scores 5.4 points with about four rebounds a night.
Adams Central will counter with a young post talent of its own, 6'2" freshman Rachel Goodon (6.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg). Senior Kylie Dierks will help in the post (8.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and the Patriots backcourt leaders of Bryn Lang and Jessica Babcock put up 18.6 points a game.
Chadron's senior guards Shea Bailey and Taylor Strotheide put up 18.8 points combined a night, a close match-up offensively with Adams Central.
D2 - #3 Mullen 60, #6 BDS 54
7:45 p.m. (MT) - Lincoln Southwest HS
Friday: Humphrey St Francis 68, Mullen 38 Saturday: 3rd Place: Falls City Sacred Heart 59, Mullen 36
The Mullen Broncos are making their fourth state basketball tournament appearance in school history and are headed back for the second consecutive year.
Last year in the first round the Broncos were clipped by Bruning-Davenport-Shickley (BDS), the very team the Broncos face in this year's opening round...Mullen led 30-24 heading into the fourth quarter before BDS put together a 12-4 run to advance to the semifinals in 2019.
Mullen will rely on the backcourt of junior guard Samantha Moore and sophomore Taylor Svoboda who combine to score almost 27 points per game.
That pair is familiar with the match-up and Moore led the Broncos with 11 points at state in 2019; Svoboda chipped in seven.
BDS will count on 5'11" senior forward Regan Alfs and junior Macy Kamler at guard who combine for 15.2 ppg, and add in senior guard Rylee Haeker's 8.2 ppg for a third option.
Alfs and Kamler scored 20 for BDS in last year's State win over Mullen, while Haeker is a new addition as a senior that the Broncos haven't seen.
The 25-1 Broncos are coming into the tournament hot, on an eight-game winning streak after cruising by Leyton in the D2-3 district championship by 27 points. Mullen's only setback came to 21-3 C2 school South Loup in early February.
BDS is 18-5 and lost to Lawrence-Nelson in a sub-district final 59-54, but still made it to the district finals and ousted Stuart by 22. Lawrence-Nelson is in this year's state field and could be a state finals rematch for BDS.