Lady Jets advance to state semifinals
LINCOLN -- The Sterling Lady Jets used a combination of an inside game and outside game to beat CWC Monday morning in the first round of the NSAA State Tournament.
Fifth-seeded Sterling beat the fourth-seeded Renegades 44-35 at Lincoln Southwest High School to advance to the semifinals of the Class D2 State Tournament.
The Jets will play top-seeded Falls City Sacred Heart at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Sterling junior post player Colby Thies had 12 points for the Jets while senior guard Malayna Wingert also had 12 points.
CWC took an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter, but it would be their only lead of the game. Sterling led 10-6 after the first quarter and 23-21 at half time.
The third quarter proved to be pivotal as Sterling opened up a 36-27 lead entering the fourth quarter. CWC dwindled that lead down to four at 38-34, but the Jets made enough free throws down the stretch to win 44-35.
“It feels great to get this win,” said Sterling coach Josh Pfeiffer. “It’s great for the girls. None of them have ever been to the state tournament other than when they were managers. So for them to be able to show up and play the way they have all season -- I’m very proud of them.”
All of Thies’ points came on the lower block, where she has been a force all year, averaging 14.3 points per game. Malayna Wingert knocked down a trio of three pointers, all at crucial moments in the game.
“I haven’t seen everybody in the state, but I like to think that Colby is at or near the top,” Pfeiffer said. “And if you want to collapse on her, that’s fine because we like to think we have the shooters outside that can make you pay as well.”
A turning point in the game could have been when Thies picked up her third foul with more than six minutes still remaining in the second quarter. Thies sat for most of the remainder of the first half, but other players were able to fill the void, including Belle Haner who scored four points, had an assist and grabbed several rebounds.
“She’s a sophomore and has played a lot this season, but you never know how younger kids will respond in a big moment,” Pfeiffer. “Boy did she respond. She stepped up and made some really nice plays for us.”
Freshman Ella Wingert also had a big day for the Jets, scoring 11 points.
″(Ella) has been a great player for us all season and she’s really came along all season,” Pfeifer said. “Some freshman will hit a wall later in the season, but she has busted through that wall and she’s starting to show what we expect to see from her in the future.”
Sterling’s lock down zone defense also proved to be a difference in the game, holding CWC to 35 points, which was their lowest offensive output of the season. Pfeiifer said that all starts with Thies in the middle.
“We build our zone defense around Colby because she’s such a great rim protector and other teams are scared to go at her,” Pfeiffer said. “That allows us to pick up the pressure on the perimeter and lock down on those shooters.”
Other scorers for Sterling included Belle Haner with five points and Carly Wenzl and Morgan Haner with two points each.
Sterling (22-5) has played Sacred Heart(24-3) four times this season and have lost three of those games. The Jets’ one win came in the MUDECAS Tournament in January -- a tournament they went on to win. The last meeting between the two teams was last week in subdistricts where Sacred Heart won 36-24.