Bridgeport, Chase County earn close semifinal victories to advance to SPVA Championship

Michalee Brownawell of Hershey grabs a rebound as Bridgeport’s Mackenzie Liakos (22) looks on, and Ruthie Loomis-Goltl and Ellie Cline go for the ball during an SPVA semifinal game on Thursday at McDonald-Belton Gymnasium in North Platte.

In the first girls SPVA semifinal of the night, Bridgeport held on to win a defensive battle over Hershey, 39-35.

The victory puts top-seeded Bridgeport (13-2) into Saturday’s SPVA title game against Chase County. The win also marks a big moment for the Bulldogs, and possibly the start of a run for the program considering there are no seniors on the roster.

"This is awesome," Bridgeport head coach Dave Kuhlen said. "We’ve got a great group of girls and we’re incredibly young. We don’t have a single senior on the team, so we’re learning on the fly here. Hopefully we can play a little better on Saturday."

Bridgeport was led by Sydney Nein with 16 points, while Ruthie Loomis-Goltl had 10.

Michalee Brownawell scored a team-high nine points for Hershey (6-9), while three others added six.

Hershey falls to the third-place game where they will play rival St. Pat’s on Saturday at approximately 3 p.m. In their first meeting this season on Dec. 14, 2019, St. Pat’s won at home, 50-23.


Chase Co. 55,

St. Pat’s 53 OT

Alexis Richmond hit not one, but two buzzer-beating shots for Chase County, as the Longhorns defeated St. Pat’s 55-53 in overtime.

The 5-foot-10 junior sent the game to OT with a layup at the horn in regulation, then with her team down one, buried a 3-pointer as time expired giving her team a dramatic win and berth in Saturday’s conference championship.

For St. Pat’s (10-5), the close loss ends an incredible streak of 10 consecutive trips to the SPVA title game. Instead the Irish will play rival Hershey in the third-place game on Saturday at approximately 3 p.m.

Tonja Heirigs scored 15 points for St. Pat’s, Jocylin Sellers had 14 points and 15 rebounds and Kate Stienike added 12 points.

For Chase County (10-3), Mallie McNair scored 16 points, Bryn McNair added 15 and Richmond had 10.

With 2:00 left in regulation, a Sellers basket gave the Irish a 44-42 lead. After an empty offensive possession for Chase County, the Irish played keep-away. However, the Longhorns fouled and rebounded a missed free throw to regain possession with 1:13 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Mallie McNair dribbled out of bounds, giving St. Pat’s the ball back once again. This time, the Irish got it to Heirigs who was fouled, sending her to the line for a 1-and-1. The freshman made both, making it a two-possession 46-42 lead.

Bryn McNair answered quickly, nailing her third 3 of the game with 33 seconds left in regulation.

Up just one, Heirigs was fouled again, but this time missed both and Chase County regained possession on a jump ball.

Mallie McNair took it, but Heirigs tied her up for another jump ball and possession to the Irish.

Irish sophomore Jenna Kimberling was fouled with 6 seconds left and split a pair of free throws.

Richmond’s layup at the buzzer tied it at 47-apiece to send it to overtime. One area that may haunt the Irish was the free throw line, where they went 4-of-11 in the fourth quarter.

In overtime, Heirigs sunk a pair of free throws to give St. Pat’s a 49-47 advantage. Richmond answered with two free throws of her own to tie it yet again, this time with 2:40 remaining in OT.

The Longhorns held a 52-51 lead with 40.8 seconds remaining, but another Sellers bucket gave the Irish a 53-52 lead with 18 seconds left.

Richmond came up clutch one more time, this one a game-winning triple to send the Longhorns to the conference championship against Bridgeport on Saturday at approximately 6 p.m.

Consolation game

Perkins Co. 38,

Sutherland 30

In the consolation game, Perkins County defeated Sutherland 38-30.

With the loss, Sutherland (1-12) finishes the SPVA Tournament in seventh-place, while Perkins County (4-11) will play Kimball in the fifth-place game on Saturday at noon.

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