LINCOLN — The team had a first-year coach.
The school hadn't won state since 1982.
The opposition led by 14 late in the third quarter of the title game.
Somehow, it all came together Saturday night for Grand Island Northwest. And it's the Vikings who will take home the hardware as the Class B state champions.
Northwest rallied to defeat Norris 62-51 in double overtime Saturday night at the Devaney Center to capture the school's second girls basketball championship. It was a compelling finish to the season for the Vikings, who defeated four-time defending state champion Seward in the semifinals.
“Togetherness and toughness pulled us through,” Northwest coach Mike Herzberg said. “They didn't make it easy on us, but we believed all the way.”
The Vikings received big efforts from juniors McKenzie Brown and Katie Placke. Brown finished with 25 points while Placke added 20.
Bridget Bucher scored 21 in a losing effort for the Titans.
Norris, seeking its first state title, led for much of the game. The Titans were up 40-26 with 1:50 left in the third quarter and 45-33 early in the fourth.
That's when the Vikings stormed back, outscoring Norris 14-2 the rest of the way in regulation to force overtime.
Northwest, which hadn't led since the first quarter, finally tied the game at 47 with 1:13 left on a layup by Brown. Both teams had their chances to win near the end of regulation, but the Vikings turned the ball over with 9.8 seconds left and Norris was unable to get off a shot on its final possession.
A pair of free throws by Brown put Northwest on top early in the first overtime, but a short jumper by the Titans' Alix Bryant tied it. Norris had a chance to move ahead from the free-throw line in the final minute of overtime but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and then missed two more foul shots.
Northwest's Placke missed a 3-pointer at the end of overtime, and the teams moved into the second four-minute overtime. Placke didn't miss on her next opportunity, burying a 3-pointer from the corner early in the second OT to get the Vikings rolling.
Northwest went on to sink 10 free throws — six by Brown — to finally secure the victory.
“They put pressure on us and we didn't take care of the ball the way we needed,” Norris coach Mark Hagerman said. “Give credit to Northwest because they were down and came back.”
It was the first overtime final in Class B since York defeated Lexington 39-38 in 1977, the first year of the state tourney. It also was the first double-overtime final in any class and only the third double-overtime game in tourney history.
The victory also gave the Vikings a rare sweep of the state volleyball and girls basketball titles.
“To win both of them is a really good feeling,” Brown said. “We knew we had to get this done tonight.”
Norris (19-7)..................................12 13 18 4 2 2—51
GI Northwest (25-3).........................9 10 14 14 2 13—62
N: Alix Bryant 2-6 0-3 5, Hannah Hoefler 2-9 4-6 8, Kasey Hohlen 3-7 0-0 6, Kylie Hohlen 2-7 0-2 6, Bridget Bucher 8-12 5-10 21, Emma Areman 1-5 0-1 3, Andrea Jameson 1-1 0-0 2.
GINW: Kaley Werner 2-6 2-4 6, Katie Placke 6-12 5-7 20, Erin Sorahan 2-9 0-2 5, McKenzie Brown 6-20 11-12 25, Morgan Westphal 2-3 0-0 4, Erin Schleicher 0-2 0-0 0, Shelby Schacher 0-0 1-4 1.
3-point goals: N 4-20 (Bryant 1-3, Hoefler 0-6, Ka. Hohlen 0-1, Ky. Hohlen 2-4, Bucher 0-1, Areman 1-5); GINW 7-21 (Werner 0-2, Placke 3-6, Sorahan 1-2, Brown 2-10, Westphal 1-1). Rebounds: N 33 (Ka. Hohlen 9); GINW 41 (Placke 9). Total fouls: N 22; GINW 17. Fouled out: Ky. Hohlen, Brown, Westphal. Turnovers: N 21; GINW 19. Field-goal percentage: N .404; GINW .346. Free-throw percentage: N .409; GINW .655. Officials: Lance Smith, Sylvester Thomas, Kristopher Van Meter.
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