Lady Cougars First-Ever Basketball Game at State!

By Clare Wiltse, Sports Contributor

Northeast faced a tall order as they played in the first ever State Tournament for the Lady Cougars.  They took on a Sandhills/Thedford team that had three 6′ 1″ starters who helped them to a 22-4 record.

The Cougars made a valiant effort.  They had a three point lead at half time, but the size advantage turned the tide in the second half.  Down by two at the end of three quarters, LDNE ran out of gas in the final four minutes and lost 49-36.

State tournament nerves showed up for both teams in the first quarter.  It took four minutes for the Cougars to score.  Brianne Haskell sank one of two free shots to make it 1-2. Sandhills/Thedford made its opening shot, but missed on their next three tries.  After the Knight’s Rebecca Higgins knocked down a three Northeast went to the 1:01 mark before Brianne Haskell matched her.  With  20 seconds left Mariah Jessen put Northeast on top with a trey.  Sandhills/Thedford managed a basket in the closing seconds to tie the score at 7-7.

LDNE made only 2 of 14 shots, but hustled to retain possession with 4 offensive boards.  The Knights made three of nine shots.

Northeast retook the lead in the second quarter.  Brianne Haskell sank two free shots  two minutes into the period.  The Knights got a pair of baskets before Haskell made her second three. With 2:31 left in the half Lexie Bacon scored for 14-11 lead.

Once again the shooting was sub-par for both teams.  Lyons-Decatur made 2 of 10 While Thedford was 2 of 11.  Northeast was 2 for 2 from the line and Sandhills was 0-2.  The shorter Cougar team had a 16-15 advantage in rebounding.

After intermission the Knights made a determined effort to use their size advantage and get the ball down low. The Taylor twins each banged in a basket to give Sandhills/Thedford a 15-14 advantage before Kelly Wakeley was able to drive the baseline and score.  Higgins made a three and with 6:00 left in the period Abby Peterson tied the score at 18-18.

The Knights put in the next nine points.  They had three baskets in the paint,  but the back breaker was two offensive rebounds which drew fouls on the put backs.  Brianne Haskell ended the run with a basket to cut the lead to 27-20.  In the last three minutes Northeast made five free throws and Wakeley drove the lane and scored..  The Cougars were back in the game trailing by only two points. 29-27.

The team traded points to start the fourth quarter.  The Knights made four free throws.  Kelly Wakeley continued to find a hole in the Knight’s defense as she got into the lane for another score at the start of the fourth quarter.  Lexie  Bacon got a short jumper to fall and the score stood at 33-31 with 6:33 to play.

The Taylors got five points to jump the Knight’s lead to 38-31.  With 4:23 left in the game Brianne Haskell cut he deficit to five with a pair of free throws.  Twenty seconds later Kelly Wakeley was at the line, but the basketball gods were not shining on LDNE as she missed both shots.  Sandhills ran off six points before Abby Peterson made a free throw with 2:01. LDNE trailed by ten points, 44-34.

The Knights added five more free throws to bring their score to 49.   They made 14 of 17 tries in the fourth period. Abby Peterson closed out the Cougar scoring with a basket with 20 seconds left.

For the game Northeast shot a season low 23%.  They made 11 of 48 shots.  Sandhills’ height had a big roll in the misses. Coach Haskell said,  “We like to face man-to-man defenses because our offense likes to penetrate the lane.  We could get around the first defender, but there would be a big body in the way and another coming from the side.”  The Knights had nine blocked shots.  They were aware of Lexie Bacon’s shooting at the District Championship game and did not give her any good looks from outside the arc.

The Cougar defense was able to hold the Knights to 28% shooting.  They made only 15 of 49 shots.

After out rebounding the taller Knight team in the first half, the Cougars were muscled out in the second half.  Sandhills/Thedford had a 22 to 8 advantage in the second half.  They had eight offensive boards.  “We had problems getting backside help and it seemed the long rebounds all caromed their way,” said Haskell.

Coach Haskell said he was really proud of his team.  This group of girls gave it their all.  They have set the team record for wins.  The seniors have come a long way and worked to improve their game.  The underclassmen were great teammates and should play a key roll next year for BRLD.

LDNE finishes the year with a 16-8 record.  Brianne Haskell was the top scorer for Northeast with 17 points.  Kelly Wakeley had six points.  Mariah Jessen had seven rebounds.

LDNE 7 7 13 9 -36
S/Thedford 7 4 18 20 -49

2pt 3pt FT Rb F TP
S. Henneman 0 0 0 0 0 0
Simonsen 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wakeley 3 0 0/4 2 1 6
Haskell 1 2 9/10 4 5 17
Collins 0 0 0 0 1 0
Bacon 2 0 1/2 6 5 5
L. Henneman 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jessen 0 1 0 7 2 3
Peterson 2 0 1/2 5 0 5
LDNE 8/31 3/17 11/18 24 13 36
S/Thedford 13/43 2/10 17/24 37 13 49

The Northeast basketball team may not have won their game, but Lyons-Decatur Northeast did win an award from the NSAA.  LDNE claimed the Sportsmanship Award for D-2.

Northeast had a large following of students, family, and alumni fill their side of the court.  The students celebrated the affair with costumes from super-heroes and other characters.  The pep band provided some great music.  The whole crowd cheered for their team with the best of sportsmanship.

About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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