SOUTH SIOUX CITY | The defending Nebraska Class B girls state basketball champions got their season off to a rousing start here Thursday night.

South Sioux City cruised to a 78-48 victory over Wayne at the Cardinal Mini-Dome behind a 30-point scoring effort by returning all-stater McKenna Sims.

The Cardinals are No. 1 in the Class B preseason ratings despite losing three starters to graduation, while Wayne is No. 9 in Class C1.

Sims, a 5-8 junior, scored on a variety of shots and was 13-for-21 from the floor, while two more Cardinals reached double figures. Marybeth Rasmussen, a key reserve on last year’s 26-2 state title team, tallied 13 points as did 5-10 sophomore Tiffany Tinker.

“They exceeded my expectations as far as first games go,” South Sioux City Coach Molly Hornbeck said. “We have a lot of little things we need to clean up still and we’re playing a lot of girls who don’t have a lot of varsity experience. But I thought our leadership was good and our hustle and effort was good all around and we’re going to try and improve each game.”

Sims threw in 12 points in the first quarter, staking the Cardinals to a 22-8 lead. South Sioux City’s bulge grew to 40-14 before Wayne ran off the final 12 points of the second quarter.

It was 58-40 after three quarters and the Cards outscored Wayne 20-8 in the final stanza, making 7 of 12 shots. South Sioux City wound up 31 of 59 from the floor for 52.5 percent.

“I thought it went really well, I loved how we all worked together and how unselfish we were,” Sims said. “I have to get used to how a lot of the girls play. I’m going to have to be able to score more but I’m just going to play my game like I always do and make sure my teammates are having fun, loving the game and playing with passion as well.”

Kylie Hammer, the leading scorer in C1 last season, came off the bench to lead Wayne with 15 points. Frankie Klausen and Ashton Boyer contributed eight points apiece for the Blue Devils, who converted 14 of 19 free throws.

South Sioux City was missing returning starter Taryn Christensen (ankle injury) and its starting lineup consisted of two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

“McKenna played an awesome game and she’s going to be a big leader for us this year and Marybeth Rasmussen is another returner who played great defense and team basketball tonight,” Hornbeck said. “Every girl who came in gave us valuable minutes and that’s what we need. We have one senior on the roster but these younger girls are eager and hungry. They have a lot to learn but their work ethic is there and that’s always a good start.”

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