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LINCOLN – Facing a 36-35 third quarter deficit to Howells-Dodge and staring at three starters on the bench with four fouls, DCS coach Nathan Behlke wasn’t quite sure what to do in the D1 semifinals on Friday morning.

So, he chose not to score. That’s right. Behlke called for the stall.

But, his reserves in the game at the time – Payton Zarkowski, Madison Lambley and Carli Haislip – and all-state candidate Nicole Kent had other ideas. They thought maybe they’d just take the lead back and send the DCS Tigers to the state finals. And, their coach was happy they did.

“I can’t really say I have ever been in that situation before,” Behlke said. “I just wanted to get to the fourth quarter with minimal damage. But, Nicole just took over at that point. And, our bench has been great both days.”

Kent scored eight – six from the free throw line – of her game high 25 points in the final two minutes of the third quarter to give DCS a 43-38 lead heading to the final frame and then the Tigers poured it on. They’ll play for the first state championship – in any sport – in school history tomorrow morning against O’Neill St. Mary’s.

After two more Kent free throws and a bucket by Audrey Frederick, opened the final frame, their lead was up to nine and DCS played the entire fourth quarter with at least a five-point lead before winning 58-48 over the Jaguars.

“I thought we did a pretty job (with the lead) in the fourth quarter,” Behlke said. “To play defense and know that they can’t tie or take the lead, that makes it a little easier. We just kind of dug in and finished the job.”

Now, the job turns to preparing for 24-2, O’Neill St. Mary. They are as good as undefeated, with losses to C1 title participant Pierce and C2 power Crofton.

“They remind me of us,” Behlke said. “They are long, they are streaky on offense. You look up and they might score ten points in a minute.”

And, what do you do with the whole day in front of you after the biggest win in school history?

“We got a little bit to eat, went back to the hotel and rested and then we went to a UNL band concert where the girls had a former teammate playing,” Behlke said. “We’ll do what we do. We have practice at 5:30, dinner and get to bed.

“It’s kind of surreal, I guess. We are doing something that has never been done before in our school.”

Just Short

Sometimes in life, you must shake the opponents hand. And, for Sutton and York that happened in the state semifinals on Friday.

The Dukes got down quick to an experienced Norris team, battled back from more than 10 points down and had a 3-point look inside of five seconds left from Emma Grenfell that would have tied the Titans, but it went in and out.

Cassie Dauber’s two free throws after the miss, gave Norris a 45-40 win over the Dukes, who didn’t have a senior on their roster. Instead, the Titans get a crack at a state title after losing to Northwest in 2013 in double overtime. The Vikings also knocked out Norris in the semifinals last year.

Later at the Devaney Center, Sutton ran into a farmer and the crop was planted and growing just fine, thanks.

It was Hastings St. Cecilia’s Shandra Farmer who did in the Fillies with a 14-for-25, 36-point performance as the Hawkettes avenged a 46-44 December loss in impressive fashion, 84-38.

The Hawkettes left little doubt that they would like to play Crofton again in the finals and they got their wish. It will be the final game of the day on Saturday as the Warriors have beat HSC the past two seasons in the finals.

Most consider Crofton one of the top-three teams in the state regardless of class. They have won 52 straight and are 130-7 in the last five years, each season ending in a trip to the Class C2 finals.

Sutton gets one more chance to lace them up in a 1:00 third place game against Guardian Angels Central Catholic – Crofton’s only loss in the past three seasons – at Lincoln Southwest.

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