SEWARD — All Seward coach Tom Tvrdy wanted from his Class B No. 2 Bluejays on Tuesday night was a chance at the end of the game to get a win against Class C-1 No. 1 Lincoln Christian, and that’s just what his girls gave him.
The Crusaders held a slim 41-40 lead with 6.8 seconds. A missed free throw on the front end of a one-and-one had given the Jays the ball at the baseline and a lot of court to work with. They quickly dribbled the ball up the floor but a foul by Christian, the Crusaders sixth of the half, stopped the clock with 1.7 left on the clock.
Tvrdy got the system he wanted from his offense after a timeout, but the pass went to a different Jay and the shot was blocked by two Crusaders to clinch the victory.
“My challenge for the girls was to give us a chance to win in the fourth quarter, and they did exactly that,” Tvrdy said.
“Our runner looked back on the first out-of-bounds play and I feel that could’ve led to the game winner. Then with 1.7 left, we had the exact look we wanted wide-open and didn’t get it to her. We know we just have to be mentally tough to make the plays down the stretch.”
Other than an early 9-2 advantage by the Crusaders, the two teams battled evenly throughout the game. The Jays led by one after the first and three at half before the Crusaders evened it up at 31 heading into the fourth.
A layup with under a minute to play by Olivia Hollenbeck gave Christian the one-point advantage that ended up being the difference in the game.
“I was really proud of the way the girls battled tonight and found a way to win with the challenges we faced tonight,” Christian coach Nick Orduna. “I think we were 1-for-12 in the first half from three, and those are shots we have to knock down or find a way to get points other ways. Games like this really help us because we now know our mistakes.”
Emie Hollenback recorded a double-double for the Crusaders with 11 points and 10 rebounds while her teammate, Chloe Dworak, led the game in scoring with 12 points.
Seward boys 64, Lincoln Christian 51
The Crusaders kept it close early and only trailed by three after the opening quarter but were outscored 18-6 in the second by the Bluejays.
Seward maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half despite a strong fourth quarter push from the Crusaders.
Seward’s Nate Lliteras led all scorers with 27, while Justin Bubak had 24 for Christian.