LINCOLN — A big game by sophomore Jessica Shepard helped boost Lincoln Southeast past Bellevue East on Thursday at the girls state basketball tournament.
The Nebraska recruit scored 27 points and hauled down 18 rebounds to lead the sixth-ranked Knights to a 57-49 win over the fifth-ranked Chieftains in a first-round Class A game at the Devaney Center. Southeast (22-3) advances to play Millard West in a 9 a.m. semifinal Friday while Bellevue East ends the season 19-6.
The Chieftains struggled from the field early, missing all 13 shots in the first quarter. They scored their first basket early in the second quarter but eventually got back into the game by forcing several turnovers.
The game was tied at 41 with 6:45 left, but Southeast went on a 10-0 run to take command. Freshman Rylie Cascio-Jensen hit a pair of late 3-pointers for the Chieftains, but it wasn’t enough.
“Bellevue East plays so aggressively on defense,” Knights coach Kara Graham said. “We got some layups over the top of the press late in the game and that helped us pull away.”
Shepard scored 14 points in the first half and 13 in the second. She entered the tournament leading Class A in scoring at 24.4 points per game.
“Our kids played hard to the end,” Bellevue East coach Scott Jensen said. “The shots just weren’t falling for us today.”
Taylor Silva led the Chieftains with 14 points while Cascio-Jensen, daughter of the head coach, added 11.
Bellevue East (19-6).........................3 17 15 14 — 49
Lincoln Southeast (22-3)...................10 12 18 17 — 57
BE: Peyton Hagen 8, Jess Vernon 2, Haley Ourada 6, Taylor Silva 14, Ryle Cascio-Jensen 11, Amaun Frazier 2, Sidni Trotter 1, Shelby Quinn 5.
LSE: Maddy Everett 3, Alexa Haas 8, Alexa Kastanek 5, Reanne May 14, Jessica Shepard 27.
Officials: Kalina, Arvin, Loptin.
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>> Video: Highlights from the Bellevue East-Lincoln Southeast game: