LINCOLN -- The third time wasn't the charm for the Beatrice girls basketball team against South Sioux City Friday afternoon.

The Lady O hoped to avenge two losses to the Cardinals earlier in the season, but they fell to 55-50 in the NSAA State Semifinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.

The Lady O trailed by double digits several times, but kept battling and was able to dwindle that deficit down to two late in the fourth quarter.

"This team just kept improving all year and it was incredible," said Beatrice Coach Dennis Coudeyras. "We hit just enough shots to keep us in the game. We broke there press, which they are a high pressure team so you have to do that. We executed for the most part, just not quite enough at the end."

Similarly to how Beatrice beat Sidney Thursday night, South Sioux City used a tough defense to get past the eighth-seeded Lady O.

"That's what South Sioux City does," Coudeyras said. "They've been doing it for 30 years and they just make all your players have to be players. If you make a mistake, they capitalize on it. We handled it for the most part -- especially better than the first two times we played them, but just not good enough."

The pressure applied to the  Beatrice's guards caused some turnovers early, but Beatrice was able to hang tough. They led 10-9 after the first quarter with all 10 points coming from Carley Leners.

Michaela Jones opened the second quarter with a basket to extend the lead to three, but South Sioux City answered that with a 15-0 run to make it 24-12.

Jones finished the first half with five straight points and had all seven of Beatrice's second quarter points, but the Cardinals led 24-17 at the half.

"They had figured out our triangle and two, so we went to zone for a while," Coudeyras said. "But they are too good of shooters for that."

Beatrice would spend the entire half trying to play catch up. The Cardinals would get the lead back to 10 several times, but Beatrice would battle back every time.

With the score 50-42 late in the fourth quarter, a basket in the post by Leners followed by two free throws by Jones cut the deficit to 50-46 with 1:48 left in the game.

South Sioux City answered with two free throws to extend the lead back to six, but a basket by Jones, a turnover by the Cardinals and two free throws by Jones made it 52-50.

The Cardinals came back with two free throws to extend the lead to four with 43 seconds left. A Beatrice three point attempt missed its mark and Beatrice was forced to foul with 25.3 seconds left.

South Sioux City missed both free throws, but Beatrice would get into a jump ball situation on the other end, turning the ball back over to the Cardinals. They hit one free throw to make it 55-50, which would be the final score.

Jones led the way for Beatrice with 22 points while Leners had 19 points. Olivia Aden hit three three pointers in the game for nine points.

Beatrice finishes the season with a 15-9 record. It was the final game for six Beatrice seniors. Coudeyras said those seniors will all be missed, but particularly singled out Jones, who he called the greatest Beatrice girls basketball player of all time.

"Everybody knows (Jones) has the ability, but she practices more and does more than anybody I've coached in 40 years," Coudeyras said. "She's one of the toughest competitors I've ever seen in my life and the greatest player to ever play at Beatrice. She deserves it. It's not just natural, she works on it hard and it's been incredible to watch."

Outbrain