Plan for state shot down by Ansley
Girls finish season with 20-2 record
The Brady girls started making plans for a return trip to the state basketball tournament on their way home from Lincoln last March.
With two straight state appearances and a fourth-place finish in 2011, this year’s Eagles had their eye on the big prize again this year.
Rolling through the regular season with a single blemish on their record, the Eagles had motel reservations in Lincoln long before the D2-9 sub-district in Cozad last week.
Brady coach Lance Arterburn was confident even before the sub-district pairingswere announced, though, that the road to Lincoln would have to go through Ansley.
“They’re a very good team,” Arterburn said of the Lady Warriors, who have been biting at Brady’s heels in the state rankings all season.
After Brady eliminated Sumner-Eddyville-Miller 53-33 in the sub-district semi-final, Arterburn knew his girls were in for the kind of battle they hadn’t seen since their only loss at the hands of Hitchcock County in mid-December.
“We didn’t have any tough challenges down the stretch,” the coach said. “That kind of makes it harder to determine if your team is prepared for an opponent like Ansley. I think you need those kinds of games late in the season, even if you get beat.”
Ansley didn’t waste any time setting the tone for Thursday night’s D2-9 final, winning 56-38.
After a 5-5 tie with 5:30 to go in the first quarter, the Lady Warriors went on a run that included five three-point baskets.
Ansley led 23-12 at the end of the first period.
“We never recovered,” Arterburn said. “We got that deer-in-the-headlights look and it never went away.”
The only quarter the Eagles won over Ansley was the fourth when Brady scored 14 points to the Lady Warriors’ eight but by that time the deficit was far too great.
Senior Courtney Widick, who sat out the SEM game with an ankle injury, led the Eagles against Ansley with 11 points.
Brady finished the year with a 20-2 record.
Arterburn said winning 17 games in a row may have given his team members a complacent attitude, assuming they had won so many they would win again.
“You get to a point where every time you step on the court, you expect everything will go your way,” the coach said. “When it didn’t go our way from the beginning against Ansley, we didn’t know how to react.”
Hovering toward the top of the Nebraska School Activities Association’s power points rankings all season also had the Eagles comfortable with a wild card possibility but because four of the top five teams faced each other in sub-district action, that possibility is gone.
“We learned that wild card points change a lot in the last week of the season,” Arterburn said. “They went up and down like popcorn and we ended up out of the mix.”
But despite the huge disappointment of the season’s end and the loss of three key seniors to graduation, Arterburn is optimistic and already planning for next year.
“Those high expectations are still going to be there,” he said. “I think we’ll have to raise the bar even higher. We can’t rest on what we’ve already done. We have to keep those younger kids hungry for more.”