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GIRLS HOOPS

After a couple of 'wars' at practice, Lincoln Lutheran girls refocus to shut down Elmwood-Murdock

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MURDOCK — Practices last Wednesday and Thursday at Lincoln Lutheran were "wars."

The Warriors were coming off a one-point girls basketball loss at Wahoo in a matchup of the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in Class C-1. Lincoln Lutheran led for most of the game before Wahoo finished stronger last Tuesday.

"It was a feeling no one wanted to be a part of and we knew next practice we had to get after it," Lincoln Lutheran sophomore Jenna Luebbe said.

It was a big reason why the No. 3 Warriors came out strong in the second half of Tuesday’s 39-24 win against Class D-1 No. 1 and previously unbeaten Elmwood-Murdock.

Buckets by Jamison Wahl, Shanae Bergt and Luebbe to open the third quarter pushed the lead to 32-17, and the Warriors didn’t look back.

“That Wahoo (game), short term was disappointing, but long term it’s hopefully kind of wake-up call where if you’re playing a good team, you better play 32 minutes,” Lincoln Lutheran coach Wade Coulter said. “It kind of helped us that we were just here seven days ago.

“You can’t come out and sleepwalk out of a locker room. You have to maintain your level, keep executing, and I think we did that very well.”

Luebbe had 10 points, including a pair of second-quarter threes, the first sparking a 14-0 run that carried into the third quarter.

Lincoln Lutheran also mixed up its defenses against an Elmwood-Murdock (12-1) lineup that includes 6-foot-5 Brenna Schmidt, a Kansas State volleyball signee, and several shooters around her.

After scoring 10 first-quarter points, the Knights were held to five in the second quarter, five in the third and four in the fourth.

“They turn up the defensive pressure,” Elmwood-Murdock coach Paul Dwyer said. “They’re long, they’re athletic and get into double teams and cut off the passing lanes so hard.”

For Lincoln Lutheran (12-1), which started the season 9-0, Tuesday’s game was a good test against another team with state title aspirations, and one that has already picked some impressive wins against C-1 competition.

Last week was a good test, too. The players came in refocused, Coulter said, and Lutheran got back to winning 50-50 balls and making better rotations on defense.

“Our mindset on Wednesday was, ‘We’re not going to get outworked again,’” Coulter said. “To their credit we had a couple wars on Wednesday and Thursday, which turned into good performances on Friday and Saturday … and especially tonight.”

Said Luebbe, “We’ve been talking about it all week, how we needed to bounce back from the Wahoo game, and we showed it tonight. Even when we made a mistake, it was a next-play mentality.”

Senior Lexi Bacon scored eight points for Elmwood-Murdock, which is playing one of the toughest Class D-1 schedules this season. It continues this weekend with a game against C-2 No. 8 Oakland-Craig.

Lutheran boys 59, Elmwood-Murdock 22

Jonny Puelz scored 13 points and 10 other Warriors scored in the win.

Puelz scored 11 points, including two three-pointers, in the first half as the Warriors raced to a 34-9 halftime lead.

Reach Clark Grell at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter at @LJSSportsGrell.

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