SEWARD — Defense has been the strong suit of the No. 2 Seward girls basketball team this season, but now that the postseason is here, the Bluejays have made it their calling card.
Seward frustrated a Norris offense that put up 51 points on No. 1 Crete on Monday at every turn Tuesday night in Seward. The defensive performance, which included a two-point second quarter from the Titans, allowed Seward to control the game throughout and win the B4 subdistrict final 47-26.
"As a team, you want to peak at the end of the season, and you really want to be peaking defensively by the end of the season," Seward coach Tom Tvrdy said. "We've really been peaking defensively if you look back all the way to the Waverly game. We're playing really smart defense. We're playing really hard and we're communicating. When you play that way, you have a chance to be great."
It did take the Seward defense a few minutes to get into the game and the Titans were able to take an early lead, but once the four-minute mark hit in the first quarter, there were no longer any easy baskets for Norris.
Seward senior Kayla Luebbe took the spark from the defensive effort and used it offensively as she poured in eight first-quarter points to give the Blue Jays the lead for good. She added six more in the second to push the Seward lead to double-digits while the points dried up for Norris.
Ten Seward turnovers gave the Titans some life in the third quarter, but it just wasn't enough to truly get back into the contest. Seward turned it back on in the fourth quarter to advance comfortably with a 21-point victory.
"Tonight we just went in spurts and had offensive droughts that you just can't have against a team like that," Norris coach Mark Hagerman said. "They came out and shot lights-out early in the first half and that stunned us a bit. We knew they could shoot it, but going 5-for-5 like that put us in a hole."
Seward now advances to host a district final on Saturday while Norris waits for the district finals to get announced to see if the season will continue. Barring any upsets, the Titans will likely make the field of 16.
"It would really mean a lot to this team, especially after the season we've had together," Hagerman said.