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Girls A state basketball: Northeast survives Kearney tussle

Girls A state basketball: Northeast survives Kearney tussle

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Jamie Holscher is known for the long ball on the softball diamond.

The Lincoln Northeast senior guard showed Thursday night that she’s pretty good at hitting triples on the basketball court as well.

Holscher, a South Dakota softball recruit, netted four three-pointers on her way to 15 points, propelling the second-ranked Rockets to a 58-52 victory over No. 7 Kearney in the first round of the Class A girls state basketball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

“She’s a three-sport athlete, a gamer and hit some big threes,” Northeast coach Steve Bartek said. “She’s a four-year starter just like our other seniors and I think that showed when the game was tied and a minute to go. That was huge.”

Holscher helped the Rockets (25-1) break from a 50-50 tie in the final 1:13 and secure a spot in the state semifinals for the second straight year. Northeast takes on No. 3 Omaha Westside at 8:45 p.m. Friday.

The Rockets seemed to have things under control with a 47-36 lead early in the fourth period, only to see Kearney go on a 14-3 run and tie the game with 1:39 left on a pair of free throws by junior Skyler Snider, who paced Kearney with 16 points.

On Northeast’s next possession, Shaneequah Watkins dished off to Tantashea Giger for a layup to break the tie with 1:13 remaining and put the Rockets ahead to stay.

After a Kearney miss, the Rockets missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw situation. Tierra Beard grabbed the offensive rebound and missed, then Holscher got another offensive board and scored for a four-point lead with 28 seconds left.

Two free throws by Giger, a 5-8 all-stater who had 13 points, made it 56-50 with 9.9 seconds left. A driving layup from Kelsey Stithem (15 points) pulled Kearney to 56-52 with 5.2 seconds showing before a long baseball pass from Holscher to Giger produced a layup as time expired.

“I know I didn’t want it to be my last game, and they (the other Northeast seniors) didn’t either,” Holscher said about the final push.

“We had four people in foul trouble so I had to start shooting and driving,” Holscher added, referring to her 15 points, a season-high. ”I don’t know what got into me. I knew 43 (Miller) was guarding me and she had foul trouble, so I was more aggressive.”

Kearney led 30-25 at half, ending the second quarter with a 7-0 run. The Bearcats led 32-20 early in the third quarter when the Rockets put together a 14-2 spurt to end the period and take a 44-34 lead into the final eight minutes. Northeast forced nine Kearney turnovers during that stretch and got scoring from five different Rockets during that span.

Holscher netted a three-pointer and Aaliyah Evans had two of her 12 points off the bench during the run.

Bartek said posting the second win of the season over Kearney (20-6) was every bit the challenge he expected.

“Kearney was on a 15-game run and one of the hottest teams in the state,” Bartek said. “This was not the first-round match we wanted. It seemed like a really solid battle, and we’re glad to get through it. Now we get Westside and they've won 13 straight.”

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High school sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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