NORTH PLATTE — Columbus High put together its best performance of the season Saturday to beat Norfolk 53-42 in the third-place game of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament in North Platte.

Early in the season, CHS head coach Dave Licari knew his team had the ability to do well in the tournament, and the Discoverers came through.

“We’re definitely happy to get third place,” Licari said.

It’s the first time the Columbus girls have recorded at least two wins in the conference tournament since winning the title in 2011. The Discoverers (3-5) hadn't beaten Norfolk since that season prior to Saturday.

Earlier in the season, the Panthers (5-4) beat Columbus 50-36 behind a hot shooting night. The Discoverers flipped the script in Saturday’s game, scoring a season-high 52 points and shooting 41 percent from the field.

“If we consistently hit 40 percent, we’re going to have a chance to win every game,” Licari said. “Definitely pleased with the offense.”

Aspen Luebbe knocked down 8 of 10 attempts from the free-throw line on her way to a game-high 14 points for Columbus. As a team, the Discoverers were 11 of 14 at the charity stripe.

Bailey Keller added 13 points for CHS and Regi Zakrzewski scored eight points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had four assists. Emily Goc dished out five assists.

“We got contributions from everybody,” Licari said.

With both teams playing their third game in three days and coming off losses in the semifinals, Licari knew the first few minutes of the game would likely set the tone.

Columbus answered the bell, leading 7-0 just three minutes into the game.

“The girls came out really hard,” Licari said.

CHS led 16-11 after the first quarter and 32-23 at halftime. The Discoverers struggled offensively in the third quarter, scoring just five points, but their defense continued to keep Norfolk out of rhythm. The Panthers could only get within five entering the fourth quarter down 37-32.

The lead grew as large as 16 points as Columbus pulled away in the fourth quarter.

The Discoverers are back on the court Friday at Fremont.

Kearney 50,

Columbus 39

NORTH PLATTE — A slow offensive first half from Columbus High allowed Kearney to distance itself from the Discoverers and advance to the finals of the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament.

The top-seeded Bearcats, a ratings contender in Class A, beat No. 5 Columbus 50-39 on Friday in North Platte.

Regi Zakrzewski scored 13 points and added six assists and four rebounds for the Discoverers.

Kearney took a 14-10 lead after the first quarter, then Columbus bogged down in the second period, allowing the Bearcats to extend their lead.

The Discoverers scored just two points in the second period as Kearney took a 21-12 lead into the break.

Columbus more than doubled its offensive output in the third period with 13 points, but couldn’t make up any ground as Kearney maintained its nine-point edge, leading 34-25 heading into the final period.

The Bearcats got 14 points each from Alexis Mishou and Adison Wood while Avery Wood chipped in 11.