SCHUYLER — As crosstown rivals, very little distance separates Wahoo and Bishop Neumann high schools.
Yet, the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in Class C-1 will travel 40 miles to Schuyler High School on Thursday to settle a subdistrict girls basketball title, as well as gauge where they stand entering next week’s district finals.
Wahoo, unbeaten and rated No. 1, had no trouble getting by David City in Tuesday’s C1-4 subdistrict semifinal, winning 67-21.
No. 2 Neumann faced a tougher task. Behind 10 three-pointers, it pulled away for a 65-46 win against No. 8 Aquinas in a game that was much closer than the score indicated.
The Cavaliers held a 45-40 lead entering the final quarter before finishing on a 20-6 run. Defense, Neumann’s calling card, set the tone for a strong finish.
“I really liked our grit and toughness,” Neumann coach Jason Simons said. “Early, we had a tough time handling the press and these girls didn’t get shook. They kind of slowed themselves down and to me that was the real key to the game, there in the first half. We kind of developed some confidence.”
The Cavaliers hurt the Monarchs with threes. Junior Lindsey Thiele hit five three-pointers, and senior Alyssa Rezac made four. Each hit threes on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 11 after Aquinas (16-6) had cut it to five.
“Every person has their night and we have good ball movement, so it makes it hard for people to guard us,” said Rezac, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “People take their shots and it makes it easy for all of us to pop them when they’re open.”
Thiele finished with 17 points and senior Kelsie Cada added 15 to lead a strong offensive effort for Neumann (18-3), which found ways in the second half to attack Aquinas’ signature 1-3-1 zone defense.
What will it take to win on Thursday?
“More of the same,” Simons said. “We’re not going to change up a lot of what we do. We’re going to try to keep it simple, and play inside-out basketball on offense and just play really tough, gritty defense and see where that puts us. I do think against a team like Wahoo, the rebounding war is the war that needs to be won.”
Wahoo used its entire arsenal -- athleticism, size, perimeter shooting -- to ease into Thursday’s game.
Hallie Reeves had a game-high 16 points, Kyla Swanson had 13 and Kendall Brigham added 11 for the Warriors, who were up on David City (6-16) 24-4 after the first quarter and 44-9 after two.
“You just want to play well,” Wahoo coach Linda Walker said. “You don’t want to play sloppy out there and I though defensively we fairly strong. We didn’t have to get too aggressive or anything, but I thought we were able to get the job done.”
Wahoo, on paper, will receive its toughest challenge in weeks come Thursday.
“I do like where our team is at,” Walker said. “We need to bring energy, though, for Thursday.”
Neumann and Wahoo met in a subdistrict final last year, won by Wahoo, at Millard West High School. The community will do it again Thursday. This time, Highway 79 will have to handle the traffic.
“I think this will be a pretty packed venue on Thursday,” Simons said.
Aquinas, meanwhile, is hoping to grab one of four wild-card spots for next weeks’ district finals.
“I would give anything for these girls,” Aquinas coach Tony Smith said. “This is a special group and I told them I just one more chance to coach them and to finish the season the right way. I’ll just pray tonight. That’s all you can do.”
Breanna Stouffer led Aquinas with 11 points against Neumann.