SIOUX CITY – South Sioux City used a strong fourth quarter to subdue Crofton in a battle of perennial state title teams in Nebraska.
The Cardinals' 22-9 fourth quarter spurt pushed the top-ranked squad to a 67-51 victory over the third-ranked Warriors Friday evening during the CNOS Foundation Classic at the Tyson Events Center.
“It would be nice to put four quarters together, but if you're going to have a half to play well, I would prefer it to be the second half,” said South Sioux City Coach Molly Hornbeck.
A 10-2 spurt to begin the fourth quarter allowed the defending state champion Cardinals to pull away from the 45-42 advantage they held after three.
McKenna Sims scored 16 of her game-high 28 points in the second half after junior Marybeth Rasmussen had the hot hand in the first half for the 12-time state champions, most in state history.
“That was a career-high for (Rasmussen),” said Hornbeck. “She is one of the best shooters on the team and when she hits early and has that confidence you could just see it in her eyes that she wanted the ball.
“When we have multiple people scoring it just makes it easy on everybody else.”
Rasmussen, a lefty, scored 15 of her career-high 20 in the first half and South Sioux City used a late 10-0 spurt to close the half, taking a 35-26 lead into intermission.
Rasmussen, who scored in double figures just five times last season, reached double figures for the seventh time this season as South Sioux City moved to 8-3.
A boost in confidence has allowed Rasmussen, who upped her scoring average over 10 with the effort, to be that complementary scorer behind Sims, the team leader at 19.3.
“Most of it (confidence) does (help), but most of it’s my teammates getting me open shots,” said Rasmussen.
“We lost some great seniors, so I knew that if I didn’t step up, somebody would have to. I knew I could do it so I worked hard and I’ve been doing it.”
Rasmussen’s fourth and final 3-pointer of the game, capped the 10-2 spurt to begin the fourth quarter and the Cardinals posted a strong 19-for-22 showing from the free throw line in the win.
Crofton, which played on Thursday, fell to 9-3 and was led by freshman Lacey Sprakel who had 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams have losses on their respective ledgers to Sioux Falls Lincoln while eight-time state champion Crofton has also lost to O’Neill.
South Sioux City rebounded after suffering a pair of losses in the Waverly tournament with a strong second half in a Tuesday win over West.
“Crofton is a very well coached and a storied program and we have a lot of respect for them,” said Hornbeck. “We couldn’t get wrapped up in that because I’m sure they have the same respect for us that we have for them. We just got to treat it like another game and go out there and execute the things that we want to do.”