Lincoln Southwest has high expectations of itself when it comes to defense.
The goal each game, coach Tim Barada notes, is to hold the opponent to 38 points or less.
Even Omaha Central, one of the top two or three offenses in Class A?
"Even Central," Barada said.
The No. 5 Silver Hawks accomplished that goal and more in a 54-38 complete-game win against the No. 4 Eagles in the opening round of the Class A girls state basketball tournament Monday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The win advances Southwest to Wednesday's 6 p.m. semifinals against top-ranked Millard South.
Sophomore point guard Kennadi Williams shined on the same court her mother Amy roams for Husker games, finishing with 22 points, and senior forward Freddie Wallace added 20 points.
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But this win started and ended with defense.
Southwest (20-5) held the Eagles (24-4), who feature two of the top shooters in the state in Aaniya Webb (18.8 points per game) and Aniah Wayne (14.4), to three points in the third quarter while extending its lead to 40-21.
"In the locker room (at half) we were hyped," Wallace said. "They're a shooting team and they can come back on us. We were like, 'We cannot let down and we got to keep our defensive pressure up,' so we came out and we did that and I don't think they handled it too well and it got us buckets on our end."
Wayne scored 17 points, but Southwest held Webb, who battle major foul trouble, scoreless.
Williams, Aniya Seymore and Taryn Ling locked down the perimeter and got their hands on passes while Wallace and Brinly Christensen kept Central from finding success inside.
"Everybody has to remember that it's not one person hold one (player) down," Barada said. "It's team defense because we help and recover."
Only three times has Omaha Central scored less than 50 points this season, and two have come against Southwest, which won the regular-season meeting 60-46.
As for holding Central to 38 points Monday, "Our kids believed it and they bought into it," Barada added.
Wallace set the tone early with six straight points to begin the game, and Williams went to work on drives while also hitting a pair of three-pointers.
"That’s a point guard that you want to play with," Wallace said. "She has good IQ and we work together so well."
The next challenge for Southwest and its stout defense is No. 1 Millard South (27-0), which hit 11 three-pointers in a 62-45 rout of No. 8 Bellevue West in the first Class A game Monday at PBA.
"The way Millard South plays is race it up and shoot it and they're gonna shoot more threes," Barada said. "They're a tough matchup. There's a reason they're undefeated."
Mya Babbitt tied the all-class tournament record for three-pointers in the Patriots' win.
Babbitt, who finished with 23 points, made five three-pointers in the first half. The junior's seventh came early in the fourth quarter to give the Patriots a 53-26 lead. Junior Khloe Lemon added 13 points.
"Last year I was definitely more nervous, and this year I was less nervous, and my teammates just kept finding me and looking for me and getting me open shots," Babbitt said.
Bellevue West's season ends at 18-7.