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HAC girls hoops: Led by Markowski, Bolts fend off Lincoln East to set up final against Fremont
HAC GIRLS

HAC girls hoops: Led by Markowski, Bolts fend off Lincoln East to set up final against Fremont

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Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals, 12.30

Lincoln Pius X's Alexis Markowski (50) makes a shot during a HAC Tournament semifinal against Lincoln East on Monday at Lincoln Southwest.

Lincoln Pius X and Lincoln East, two Class A heavyweights in 2019-20, each did what they do best while trading punches Monday night.

The No. 2 Thunderbolts had a few more in them.

In a matchup of contrasting styles, it was Pius X’s size and length proving to be the difference in a 60-48 girls victory against the speedy and fierce No. 3 Spartans in the Heartland Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals at Lincoln Southwest High School.

East used a 21-point second quarter to forge a halftime tie, but the Thunderbolts had better success breaking the press in the second half, and got another big night from 6-foot-3 junior Alexis Markowski, who finished with 32 points against a smaller East team.

“I thought we were breaking the press a little better, so it was kind of a one-on-one matchup and I was drawing more fouls,” said Markowski, who added 16 rebounds. “After halftime, we kind of talked about getting it back inside.”

The game was tied at 35-35 before Markowski scored three straight buckets late in the third quarter. East got to within four in the fourth before the Bolts pulled away.

“When you have that big of a mismatch sizewise, what we can do we just didn’t take advantage of,” East coach Dennis Prichard said. “I thought we had a lot of great looks first quarter, so then we’re digging out of a hole. We got back into it, but yeah, Alexis was really good tonight and they were good.”

Pius X (7-0) had to survive a few punches in the first half, starting with East’s press, which started to force a bunch of turnovers in the second quarter. The Bolts also had to withstand East’s 21-point run in the second frame.

And fouls. Pius X had 10 of them in the first quarter alone.

“They’re so different than what we are, and they come at you a hundred miles an hour with 12 kids and they’re fairly similar, but they whooped our butt taking the ball to the basket (in the first half),” Pius X coach Ryan Psota said. “I think we were too concerned with the three and they got us into foul trouble.”

Junior Jillian Aschoff scored 14 points and senior Lauren Taubenheim did her part to slow down East’s top scorer, Charley Bovaird.

Senior Skylar Kreifels led East (7-1) with 11 points.

After running with East, Pius X will play another team that likes to push the pace. The Thunderbolts will play No. 4 Fremont (10-1) in Tuesday’s 2:45 p.m. final at Southwest.

“We’re going to give it what we got,” Psota said. “We’re going to spend a lot of time (Tuesday) morning obviously scouting. Our kids will compete, and when you’re playing for a conference championship, it’s just like a state championship, you got to get it everything you’ve got.”

Fremont's offense didn't skip a beat in a 72-42 win against Lincoln Northeast in the other semifinal.

Sophomore Taylor McCabe hit four three-pointers and finished with 20 points, and junior Charli Earth had 19 points, including 17 after the first quarter, to lead the No. 4 Tigers into Tuesday's tournament championship game.

"I was really happy with the energy level that we came out with," Fremont coach Kelly Flynn said. "We shot the ball well to start with, gave us a little confidence."

After Northeast pulled to within 18-12 in the first quarter, Sarah Shepard and Earth each answered with threes and the Tigers rolled from there. They also had a 51-22 rebounding advantage. Macy Bryant had 20 rebounds.

Fremont finished with 11 threes.

The game featured two of the state's top players in McCabe, who has several Division I offers, and McKenna Minter, who signed with Seton Hall. Minter, who battled foul trouble, led the Rockets (5-3) with 12 points.

Flynn credited the defensive scheme in containing Minter to assistant coach Daryl Nelsen.

Lincoln High 66, Lincoln North Star 55: Miami recruit Nyayongah Gony scored 30 points and junior Kaysia Woods add 18 to lead the No. 9 Links (5-3), who will play No. 10 Lincoln Southwest for fifth place.

Freshman Sammy Leu had 14 points to pace the Navigators (3-6).

Lincoln Southwest 57, Norfolk 36: Taryn Ling (12 points) and Kate Dilsaver (10) were among 11 Silver Hawks to score against the Panthers. Ling hit two threes in the first quarter as Southwest (4-4) built an early 14-4 advantage and never looked back.

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

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