The Chadron girls basketball team claimed its second straight Western Conference Invitational Tournament championship with a hard-fought 54-45 win over Sidney in the title game on Saturday at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff.
The Cardinals trailed Sidney 14-10 after the opening quarter, but outscored the Red Raiders 44-31 over the final three periods. Ashlea Kerr paced the Cardinals with 28 points, while Peyton Hinn chipped in 13 points. Hinn was 7 of 8 shooting from the free-throw line.
“I think it is great that we have won back-to-back championships,” said Hinn, a junior guard. “It is exciting to be part of this team. We just play as a team, rely on each other and get stuff done.”
The Cardinals, who are rated No. 2 in the Omaha World-Herald’s Class C-1 preseason ratings, opened up the tournament with two lopsided wins over Scottsbluff and Torrington. But Saturday’s title tilt was far from easy. Hinn said Chadron expected a tough challenge from the Raiders.
“I think having a close game like this helps us a lot,” Hinn said. “Sidney is a really good team and they always have been a really good team. I think it helps us get prepared for state when we play a solid team like that.”
One of the biggest differences in the contest turned out to be the Cardinals’ defensive pressure, especially in the second half.
“We went into halftime and we talked about how the defense will help this game,” Hinn said. “Once we get our defense going, the shots will fall and it will come together. We just started focusing more on our defense.”
Sidney started fast by scoring the game’s first five points. Chadron managed to pull even at 8-8 on three Hinn free throws, but the Raiders held a 14-10 advantage after the opening quarter. Kylee Price closed out the frame with four straight points for Sidney.
Chadron grabbed its first lead of the game with a 6-0 run in the second quarter. Ashlea Kerr scored six straight points to push the Cardinals in front, 19-15. Sidney pulled to within one later in the quarter, but Chadron took at 25-20 lead at halftime after Kerr ignited for another six-point run.
The third quarter was tight as Sidney cut the lead to two points several times, the last time on a bucket by Price at 39-37. Chadron finished off the quarter with buckets by Hinn and Kerr to hold a 43-37 lead.
Chadron then outscored Sidney 11-8 in the final frame to pull away.
Sidney was led in scoring by Karissa Segelke with 13 points, while Price had 11. Sarah Mahr and Morgan Linneman each pitched in six points.
Chadron also received five points from Briley Hannaford and four points from Bailea Kerr.
Chadron (3-0) .................................10 15 18 11 – 54
Sidney (2-1)..............................14 6 17 8 – 45
Peyton Hinn 13, Briley Hannaford 5, Ashlyn Eitemiller 2, Ashlea Kerr 28, Bailea Kerr 4, Alia Brennen 1, Carly Churchill 1.
Abbi Porter 4, Sarah Mahr 6, Karissa Segelke 13, Kylee Price 11, Cody Rowley 2, Morgan Linneman 6, Jeni Heeren 3.