An all-around stronger effort helped Northwest gain a more comfortable victory over Lexington in the teams’ second meeting in five days on Monday.
The Vikings jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, fought off some Minutemen comebacks then only gave up 12 points in the second half to post a 53-36 win.
That moved Northwest into Tuesday’s Class B, Subdistrict 7 tournament final at 7 p.m. against Hastings on the Vikings’ home court.
Northwest (14-6 officially) edged the Minutemen (3-18) by a 57-52 margin on the road on Thursday. Vikings coach Chip Bahe said the rematch featured a better overall game by his squad.
“Tonight we played better with the lead,” he said. “We played smarter and made some shots at the rim at some timely times.
“I thought we guarded better tonight. I thought we guarded well the other day — this is a team that gets to the rim — but I thought we guarded really well. This time of year whether it’s a subdistrict or a state tournament game, you better guard.”
Northwest got to the free-throw line early and went 5-for-6 to take a 15-4 lead. Jed Walford scored nine of his game-high 19 points during an 11-0 run in the second quarter to put the Vikings up 29-12 before Lexington immediately answered with a 10-0 run.
“Playing from in front was a good way to go about it tonight,” Bahe said. “When you are the one (seed) playing the four, that’s how you want to have the game go. But you have to tip our hat to Lex. They showed some grit and guts. They cut it to four in the first half and cut it down to eight in the second half.
“That’s where I’m proud of our kids. They’re 14-6, and I say about teams that have won 19 games there’s a reason they won 19. But there is a reason we’ve won 14. These guys are gutty kids.”
Northwest led 36-24 at halftime and never gave up unanswered baskets in the second half.
Sam Hartman chipped in 13 points and Parker Janky finished with 10 for the Vikings.
Hastings 43, McCook 41
Jarrett Synek put himself in the right place at the right time.
The Hastings senior came from the off side to grab a missed shot and, with his back to the basket, turned around and put in the game-winner at the buzzer to hand the Tigers a 43-41 win over McCook Monday in the Class B, Subdistrict 7 semifinals.
Hastings (9-11) called timeout with 12.8 seconds left to set up the final play. Brennan Witte’s 3-pointer from the left side fell short, but it also fell right into the hands of Synek, who flew in from the right wing once the shot went airborne.
“I saw Brennan shoot it, and I saw it short right out of his hands so I tried to get to the rim as quick as possible,” said Synek, a Nebraska walk-on quarterback. “Then I just threw it up there really.
“I knew I jumped from right underneath the hoop, but that’s all I knew. I tried putting it off the corner of the square on the backboard, but I missed so I didn’t know if I made it. But then I saw it roll around and heading in, so I knew it was in right at the end of the shot.”
It wasn’t how Tigers coach Drew Danielson drew it up, but he’ll take the end result.
“We wanted a high ball screen there with Jarrett getting to the hole, and they cut it off,” he said. “We kind of went background to Witte and Jarrett’s a gamer. He went and made a play and bailed us out.”
Hastings faced its largest deficit of five points with three minutes to go. Danielson said a stronger defensive effort led to the comeback, with Roddy McClain tying it at 41 with a 3-pointer with 1:41 to go.
That trey was a rarity in a game in which the teams combined to go 3-for-33 from behind the arc.
Witte finished with a game-high 21 points for the Tigers, who advance to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. district final against host Northwest.
“I just think we’ve got to realize that this is it,” Danielson said. “This is a fight for our season. We’ve never been in a subdistrict game with this team before, so we acted a little bit different that I would have liked. But bottom line we won the game and we’ll go compete (Tuesday).”