Jayla Fleck scored the last seven points on Thursday to give North Platte St. Pat’s a 68-65 win over South Platte in the sub-district final in Big Springs.
The Lady Irish (16-8) advance to the district final on Feb. 26 against Elmwood-Murdock (11-11) at Hastings High.
Down 65-61 with a little over a minute left, Fleck connected on a runner to bring St. Pat’s to within one possession. Then after Kerstin Brown stepped out of bounds on the other end, Fleck made a three-pointer from the top of the key with 30 seconds left to give the Irish the lead.
Tonja Heirigs then stole the inbound pass coming out of a timeout but she missed a layup and South Platte (19-2) had another chance to win the game.
But Brown was called for traveling. Fleck was fouled with four seconds left and made both shots from the line. Autumn Dickmander’s shot from three-quarters of the court was way off and St. Pat’s got the victory on the Blue Knights’ home court.
The Irish jumped out to a 10-3 lead after Heirigs made three-straight baskets. South Platte cut the lead to 15-13 by the end of the first quarter but St. Pat’s remained ahead for most of the half.
The Knights led twice in the second quarter but Mae Siegel’s basket off an inbound pass gave the Irish a 33-32 halftime lead.
Avery Hayward got a bucket to give South Platte the lead to open the second half. Brown and Lauryn Stanley then followed with baskets of their own to make it a five-point lead.
Siegel made a free throw afterward but the Knights continued to rally and they went up 42-34 after baskets by Dickmander and Stanley.
St. Pat’s scored the next five with a pair of free throws by Heirigs and a three by Kate Stienike. But a basket by Mariah Koenen and a pair of Dickmander free throws made it 46-39 going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Irish took a 56-55 lead after Stienike got a layup in transition to follow a pair of threes by herself and Heirigs. But Brown hit a three to put South Platte back on top. Dickmander then got a layup off a steal to make it a two-possession game.
The Irish then got a basket by Fleck before Brown nailed another three to make it 63-58. A three-point play by Heirigs brought St. Pat’s to within a basket before Dickmander made a pair of free throws to set up the big spurt by Fleck that won the game for St. Pat’s.
“It was a great win tonight,” St. Pat’s coach Nathan Stienike said. “The key in the fourth quarter was our experience in a lot of close games this year. Late in the game, defensively, we got some turnovers that led to points, and Jayla Fleck hit a monster three to put us up one and then she hit free throws to seal the game. It was a total team effort, we had four girls in double digits. Our girls had a lot of fight and never gave up.”