• Photo Showcase: 2012 All-Nebraska basketball teams
• Video Below: View a series of videos from the all-state photo shoot
• Interactive: See a photo project featuring this year's All-Nebraska honorees
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With a state championship on the line, Omaha Central coach Tom Lee had who he wanted at the foul line.
Senior Brianna Rollerson.
The Creighton recruit sank what proved to be the winning free throw with 2.4 seconds left as the Eagles defeated Lincoln Southeast 36-35, securing the school's first girls basketball championship since 1984.
Lee didn't find out until after the game just how amazing that free throw was for Rollerson, who missed a few midseason games with a broken right hand.
"She had re-broken the hand earlier in the tournament," the coach said, "and we didn't realize that until after the tourney. But Bri made the big shot when it counted, and nothing was going to stop her."
For her effort this season, the 6-foot-1 center is recognized as the honorary captain of The World-Herald's All-Nebraska girls basketball team. Rollerson, a second-team selection last year, made first team after averaging 14 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Class A champions.
Other members of the first team are seniors Chelsea Mason of Bellevue West, Beth Bohuslavsky of Seward, Brianna Craig of Lincoln Northeast and freshman Jessica Shepard of Lincoln Southeast. Mason is the only returning first-teamer.
Another 2011 first-team selection, Bellevue East junior guard Jayla Hobza, suffered a season-ending knee injury after nine games.
On the second team are Alexa Kastanek of Southeast, Sadie Murren of Wahoo, Kadie Rolfzen of Papillion-La Vista South, Hannah Tvrdy of Seward and Chatrice White of Shelby-Rising City.
Third-team selections are Alicia Armstrong of Beatrice, Sammi Licari of Columbus, Chelsey Morten of Holdrege, Mikaela Shaw of Sandy Creek and Sylvia Smith-Gatson of Central.
All-state teams are based on observations of World-Herald sportswriters and nominations by coaches. All schools were emailed nomination forms.
Rollerson was key for the Eagles, who returned everyone from last year's squad that reached the state semifinals. Lee said the team had one primary goal this season — capture the Class A title.
"It was something for us to shoot for," he said. "And the team believed it could get it done."
Lee knew it couldn't get done without Rollerson, a three-year starter. She finished her career with more than 1,000 points, capped by her game-winning free throw in the title game.
"It had been a frustrating game for Bri up until those last few seconds," the coach said. "But I didn't have any doubt in my mind that she was going to hit at least one of her two free throws."
Rollerson, who broke a bone in her hand against Papio South in the Eagles' only loss this season, re-injured the hand in a first-round game at state against Fremont. She helped Central beat the Titans in overtime in the semifinals before finishing her varsity career in dramatic fashion.
"Even when Bri was out with the injury, she kept working hard for the time when she'd be back," Lee said. "Then she played through that injury in the final two games at state, and that just showed what kind of a competitor she was."
|Click the image to launch an interactive project featuring this year's All-Nebraska honorees, and pick up a print edition to see five full pages of coverage.|
Mason, a 5-8 senior guard, averaged 22.1 points to help the injury-riddled Thunderbirds get within one game of the state tournament, losing to Fremont in a district final.
"Chelsea shouldered a lot of jobs for us this season," Bellevue West coach Matt Fritsche said. "She was our scoring leader, our top rebounder and our best defender. I don't think there was one facet of her game that she didn't improve this year."
Fritsche said opposing teams knew Mason was West's go-to player, and used defenses designed to slow her down.
"She really had to work to get open," he said. "But she did everything possible to help us win."
Despite that defensive pressure, Mason — who will play next season at Kennesaw State — had some monster games. She had 40 points against Omaha South, 35 points and 17 rebounds against Papillion-La Vista and 33 points in a district win against Lincoln North Star.
Bohuslavsky finished her career at Seward by helping the Bluejays win Class B and finish undefeated for the fourth year in a row, extending their winning streak to 101 games — all with her as the starting point guard.
"The main thing about Beth is that she is really passionate about the game of basketball," Bluejays coach Tom Tvrdy said. "She has a lot of fun playing the game, and I think that rubs off on everyone around her."
Bohuslavsky, a Fort Hays State recruit, received a scare in November when she dislocated a thumb in an exhibition game against Bellevue East. She taped it before every game and never missed a beat, averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 assists. She was also a dangerous 3-point shooter, making 114 of 229 attempts (49.8 percent) for her career.
Craig, a 5-11 guard, averaged 18.6 points and was the only senior for Northeast (18-6), which qualified for state for the first time since 2007.
"The great thing about Brianna is that she's very humble despite being blessed with a lot of athletic talent," coach Steve Bartek said. "She went out of her way to help our younger players."
Craig, a Kansas State recruit and Nebraska's Gatorade player of the year, comes by that athletic ability naturally as the daughter of former Nebraska football player Curtis Craig and Husker basketball player Terri Parriott. Her uncle, Roger, was a Husker running back who won three Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers.
Shepard, a 6-3 forward, averaged 17.8 points and 9.1 rebounds for the 25-2 Knights. She is believed to be the second freshman to make the All-Nebraska first team, following South Sioux City's Katie Robinette in 1998.
"The big thing about Jessica is her versatility," Southeast coach Kara Graham said. "She's a physical presence inside, but she also has the ability to play in the open court."
Shepard, who committed to Nebraska before playing her first varsity game, did everything possible in the Class A final to help the Knights claim their 10th state title. She finished with a game-high 19 points and 16 rebounds.
"She's a fierce competitor, and playing a team like Central for the championship brought out the best in her," Graham said. "I'm just glad she's going to be on our side for the next three years."
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• Video: Behind the scenes look at the All-State photo shoot:
• Video: World-Herald prep writers Stu Pospisil and Mike Patterson challenged two All-State players to a free-throw shooting contest. See who won:
• Video: Omaha Central's Akoy Agau, with some help from Norfolk's Jalen Bradley, put on a show: