One win from state
Brady beats Broncos, Wildcats in sub-district.
The agenda is set for the Brady girls basketball team next week, right down to departure time for the bus ride to Lincoln.
Now all the Eagle girls have to do is knock off the 20-1 state-ranked Stapleton-McPherson County Cyclones in Friday night’s D1-6 district final in North Platte to earn that trip to state.
“The girls know the bus is leaving at 9 a.m. next Wednesday,” said coach Darren Tobey. “They’d better be on it.”
That’s the kind of confidence Tobey wants his team to carry into the district final after the Eagles defeated Wauneta-Palisade and Maxwell in the D1-11 sub-district last week.
“We’ve been here before,” Tobey said of the last step before state. “We should have more confidence than nerves this time.”
Brady won its sub-district last season only to fall to Paxton in the district final.
Tobey said the girls know exactly what they’re up against when they face SMC Friday and they know what they have to do to stop the Cyclones.
“It’s just a matter of getting it done,” he said.
The Eagles played SMC in the championship game of the Maxwell holiday tournament in December, losing 39-37.
When the Eagles played SMC again at Tryon in late January, Brady lost 48-33.
“They always say it’s tough to beat a team three times,” Tobey said.
To contain the Cyclones, Tobey said the girls need to handle SMC’s pressure and stay out of foul trouble.
“Last time we played they beat us with a half-court trap that turned into easy transition layups,” the coach said. “That’s not going to happen again.”
A win would mean the Eagle girls’ first-ever trip to the state tournament.
Brady has strung together four straight wins with the two sub-district victories.
Neither D1-11 game came easily, though.
Against second-seeded Wauneta-Palisade in the first round on Feb. 16, No. 3-seeded Brady held a slim advantage throughout the first half leading 19-15 heading into the break.
The Broncos managed their first lead of the ballgame midway through the third quarter but it didn’t last long.
Brady turned the table and went up 25-24 heading into the final period before outscoring the Broncos 13-8 in the fourth to win 38-32.
Courtney Widick led Brady with 12 points.
“We decided Wauneta-Palisade is too fast for us to run our usual man-to-man defense,” Tobey said. “We played zone and worked to limit the transition baskets.”
The victory pitted Brady against top-seeded Maxwell in the finals on Thursday.
“We hate to see a crowd sitting on their hands in a Brady-Maxwell game,” Tobey said. “I guess the girls wanted to put on a good show.”
The lead changed hands multiple times between the Eagles and the Wildcats.
Maxwell led 12-7 after the first period and was up 19-17 at halftime but never had complete control of the game.
Midway through the third period, Maxwell went up 22-17, the widest margin for either team the entire game.
A three-pointer by Widick with four minutes to go in the third cut Maxwell’s lead to 22-20. Fellow sophomore Megan Polt tied the score at 22-22 with a pair of free throws a minute and a half later.
At the end of the third quarter, Maxwell was ahead 25-24.
“I challenged the girls not to leave anything on the court,” Tobey said. “They answered the call.”
It wasn’t until midway through the fourth period that the Eagles took the lead for good.
At the four-minute mark, Brady was up 34-32 and the Eagles never looked back en route to a 46-40 win.
“We hit 11-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter,” Tobey said. “I’m sure we weren’t even 50% from the line the rest of the game but we got them when we needed them most.”
Widick led the Eagles with 15 points. Jessica Schrad added 13.
The Eagles improve to 12-9 on the year. It’s not enough to earn a wildcard spot at state should they lose Friday but Tobey says that doesn’t matter.
“The agenda is already typed up for our trip to Lincoln,” he said. “Everyone better start believing.”