SEWARD — Well, that didn’t take long.
Postseason basketball for high school girls began Monday, and Norris reminded everyone that anything is possible behind a 51-40 upset of No. 1 Crete in the B-4 subdistrict semifinals at Seward High School.
After knocking off No. 1, the Titans played No. 2 and host Seward at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The winner clinches a spot in Saturday’s district final. For those results, see Thursday's Daily Sun.
Norris and Crete entered subdistrict play on different paths. The Cardinals had won 11 straight games, while Norris had lost five of eight and was barely in the top 16 for wild-card points.
But the Titans saw an opportunity for a fresh start.
“Coach (Mark Hagerman) told us that we had to start over like it was a new season,” Titan junior Brianna Stai said. “I think us hyping each other up and telling each other that this is our game, this is our week. It was time for us to get some W’s.”
It was Stai’s three-pointer from the corner just before the end of the third quarter that gave Norris (11-10) a 25-24 lead. That ignited a 14-2 Norris run that included a Stai bucket to begin the fourth quarter and two three-pointers from Michaela Boon.
“Bri’s three at the end of the quarter was huge,” Hagerman said. “Anytime you can keep that last possession and obviously score, it’s huge. When Michaela came in and gave us two big threes in that fourth quarter, I felt -- whether it’d be the turning point of the game -- but we needed them at that point.”
Crete (18-5) attempted to rally, but Norris couldn’t miss from the free-throw line.
Norris, which didn’t attempt a free throw during the first three quarters, hit 14-of-14 from the line in the fourth quarter. Ten of those came from senior Madelyn Ramsey, who finished with a team-high 19 points.
The Titans, who have some big wins this year, had been dealing with some adversity during the last half of the season. They were unable to string wins together, and Stai missed some time with a knee sprain. Senior Taryn Tracy (shoulder) and freshman Ella Waters (stress fracture) have been sidelined.
“The main thing that we were trying to do was just trying to keep their confidence up, because they were playing well, going in spurts,” Hagerman said. “You look at the end of the day and we got beat again, but we just try to keep their spirits up. If they can believe in each other and work with each other on the court, they’re going to be alright.”
Stai finished with 15 points, including 11 in the second half for a Norris team that is turning the postseason wheels much like it did last year when it won its subdistrict as a four seed and pushed eventual state champion Elkhorn in the district final.
“I think it honestly gives us the confidence that we can beat anyone,” Stai said. “Crete was No. 1 and we knew that going into this game. I think we just have to go out and play our game.”
Junior Morgan Maly led Crete with 19 points and Jadya Weyan added nine points on three three-pointers.
Crete is high enough in wild-card points to assure itself of a spot in Saturday’s district finals.