LINCOLN — No one would have blamed Mark Hagerman if he put the red light on his team’s 3-point shooting Thursday.
Through three quarters, Hagerman’s Norris bunch was 0 of 13 from behind the arc. His message entering the fourth quarter?
“Don’t quit shooting it,” Hagerman said. “We thought the law of averages were going to have to help us out there.”
The Class B No. 3 Titans connected on 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, coming from behind to top fourth-ranked Gretna 44-43 in the first round of the girls state basketball tournament at the Pershing Center.
After a Gretna free throw at the midway point of the fourth quarter pushed the Dragon lead to 36-30, Norris ran off a 13-4 run, a spurt that included three treys and was capped with a pair of free throws from Bridget Bucher with 54.2 seconds to play.
Gretna (22-4) would cut the deficit to one at 44-43 with 15 seconds left on a long 3-pointer by Megan Kruse.
But Norris (18-6) was able to run off the remaining time without getting fouled, sealing its second straight semifinal appearance.
“That’s what they’ve played all year for,” Hagerman said. “They’re resilient. They got down, held their composure, came back, and we hit some key shots in there. They got the job done, and I’m very proud of them.”
Gretna coach Jerome Skrdla said there was no secret in the Norris comeback.
“They hit the 3s in the fourth quarter that they didn’t hit the rest of the game,” Skrdla said. “We had to gamble to take away their bigs, so you’re going to leave something open. On the other end, we didn’t score. We couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”
Norris moves into Friday’s semifinals to face a Beatrice team that won both previous meetings this season, including a 38-29 district tournament win.
The Titans got 13 points from Hannah Hoefler and 12 from Kasey Hohlen before she fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
Jamie Schuetz led Gretna with 16 points.
Norris (18-6)......................12 9 6 17 — 44
Gretna (22-4).....................12 12 9 10 — 43
N: Alex Bryant 8, Emma Areman 2, Hannah Hoefler 13, Kasey Hohlen 12, Andrea Jameson 1, Bridget Bucher 8.
G: Jamie Schuetz 16, Megan Kruse 11, Mare Soupir 4, Mary Janovich 7, Madison Miller 3, Madison Meadows 2.
Contact the writer:
402-850-0781, firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/nickrubek