WAVERLY — When the No. 3 Waverly and Platteview girls basketball teams face one another, it's going to be close. At least, that's the case this season.
On Wednesday, when the teams met in the B-3 subdistrict final, it was the Vikings who had the slight edge, resulting in a 49-43 victory to lock down a home contest in Saturday's district final.
Both teams pair an up-tempo offense with a pressing defense, so it's almost like they're playing against a clone of their own team. When teams strengths are that evenly matched, it comes down to one thing: Who can hit the most shots.
"This team is built on winning games like this, they've been in wars, so we expect them to have strength in their heads and make sure that they win games like this in the end," Waverly coach John Cockerill said. "We didn't hit every free-throw down the stretch, but Tyza (Hoos) knocked down some shots at the line to get us the win."
Early on it didn't look as though the Vikings would need free throws down the stretch to close out the game, but Platteview never went away despite a 12-point deficit after the first quarter. The Trojans chipped away at the lead and cut it to six at halftime, 26-20, before taking their first lead early in third quarter by opening the second half on a 10-2 run.
But, much like Cockerill said, the Vikings are built for games like this. They took a two-point lead into the fourth and extended it by hitting free throws throughout the quarter, including Hoos, who went 4-for-4 over the final two minutes to close out the game.
"We told the girls that we're playing a mirror image of ourselves, and so we knew it would be close, the last game went to overitme," Platteview coach Ron Coughlin said. "They hit some big free throws and that made the difference. They just hit a few more shots than us tonight."
Both teams will advance to Saturday's district finals with their opponents yet to be determined. The Trojans will likely have to travel to No. 2 Seward or No. 9 Sidney, while the Vikings will enjoy the comforts of their home gym one more time this season.
"It's huge. Any time you get to play at home it's an advantage," Cockerill said. "We went to overtime with (Platteview) last time, and I believe our home crowd really helped us tonight."