BANCROFT, Neb. – It was a strong week for the Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons Decatur Northeast girls basketball team.
In its second year as a co-op program, the Wolverines downed three teams with winning percentages over .750 to claim the East Husker Conference tournament championship.
BRLD, ranked eighth in C2, defeated North Bend Central 38-36 in Saturday’s title game at Columbus.
The championship victory came on the heels of wins over fourth-ranked (C2) Stanton in the semifinals and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in the quarterfinals.
“We had a tough tournament (draw),” said BRLD coach Rod Peters. “At the time we played a three-loss HLHF team, we gave Stanton their second loss and now we hand North Bend Central their fourth loss.”
Vicki Gatzemeyer, one of three seniors in the starting lineup, was the lone double-figure scorer with 15 points in the championship win. She also eclipsed 1,000 career points in the win, becoming the ninth from Bancroft-Rosalie to achieve the feet.
Meanwhile, Lyons-Decatur Northeast has had two reach that mark. Lexie Bacon reached the feat last season in the first year of the co-op and Brianna Haskell did so in 2016 in the school’s final season.
The Wolverines average 56.7 points per game. However, the last two wins came because of strong defense in two games that had different tempos.
“The last two games, the other team has dictated the tempo of the game,” said Peters. “We have had to play a little bit differently and play enough to win.”
BRLD yields just 39.2 points per game defensively and has only allowed over 50 points five times this season.
“Biggest thing (league title) was because of our defense,” said Peters. “We kind of changed defenses up at the beginning of the year. Kids bought into it and are playing extremely hard, the defense won the title.”
Gatzemeyer leads the offense at 14 points per game while Paige Peters, the junior daughter of the head coach, chips in 9.6 ppg.
The starting lineup includes seniors Mariah Petersen and Tiahna Bonneau along with sophomore Kelsey Larsen. The key reserves are seniors Sophia Henneman and Kelcee Bacon along with junior Brandi Simonsen and freshman Caragan Tietz. Henneman, who hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter on Saturday, and Simonsen are the only leftovers from Lyons-Decatur Northeast’s state tourney team.
Gatzemeyer also had a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and Petersen sealed it with a pair of free throws with 6.8 ticks left.
It’s the first conference title for Bancroft-Rosalie since 2009. Lyons-Decatur Northeast had never won a league tourney title.
Peters is in his fourth season of his second stint after guiding Bancroft-Rosalie to a state title in 2009. His final two B-R teams went 10-13 and 7-14 before last season’s 16-9 squad.
Lyons-Decatur Northeast was coming off the school’s first-ever state tournament appearance in its final season in 2016.
This year’s squad is currently 17-4 and won four games in the East Husker Conference tournament after suffering a 14-point setback to Stanton. The two teams are in the same district meaning they could see each other with a state berth on the line.
BRLD has two regular season games remaining against Wisner-Pilger on Tuesday and Logan View/Scribner-Snyder on Friday.
Bancroft-Rosalie made just one state tournament appearance since winning the state title, that coming in 2014, while this year’s BRLD squad has positioned itself to make a run at a state berth.
“In the conference tournament, we eliminated a lot of turnovers,” said Peters. “We’re going to have to keep turnover number low. Possessions are way more important."