Subscribe for 33¢ / day

LINCOLN – Maggie Feehan always watched the state championship basketball games growing up.

She thought about how awesome it would be to play in one of those games.

Now, she’s walking out of Pinnacle Bank Arena with a net draped around her neck.

“It’s really a dream come true,” the senior said.

Bailey Lehr sank a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and Lehr and Feehan each sank two free throws in the final 15 seconds as fifth-seeded Scotus Central Catholic (22-5) completed its magical run to the state title with a 40-37 overtime victory over second-seeded Wahoo Neumann (21-5).

“Nobody really expected us to come here and win,” Lehr said. “We were the underdogs and we came up on top. It’s a great feeling.”

It’s the fifth state title in school history for Scotus and the first since 2004.

The end to regulation was like déjà vu. Lehr stepped into her 3-pointer and drained the shot of her life to send the game into extra time tied at 34-all.

“As soon as it left my hand, I knew it was in. I just knew I had to make the shot, so I did,” said Lehr, who finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.

The Shamrocks tied Neumann on a late 3-pointer in the teams’ first meeting in January only for the Cavaliers to hit a buzzer-beater for a 43-40 win.

This time, Scotus’s defense held strong. Lehr’s trey changed the entire mindset for the Shamrocks.

“This is our game,” Feehan said of the Shamrocks’ thinking in overtime. “We’re going to come out strong. We just played for each other and left it all out on the court and it turned out in our favor.”

Neumann possessed the ball for the first half of the five-minute period, but Scotus never cracked.

Lehr found a streaking Feehan on the other end to give Scotus its first lead since the first quarter. Lehr’s free throws made it 38-34 with 15 seconds left. The Shamrocks held the Cavaliers scoreless until the final 10 seconds.

Aspen Jansa, who led Neumann with a game-high 13 points, converted a traditional 3-point play to make it a one-point game. Feehan’s free throws made it 40-37. Jansa’s last heave came up short and the Shamrocks dogpiled at center court.

“I had no words for it. It was just so amazing,” Feehan said. “We all put in so much time and love each other so much. We worked really hard. Our coaches, they put in a lot of time. Just that feeling of all the work we put in, it was phenomenal.”

Scotus trailed for most of the game, but their outside shooting kept the Shamrocks hanging around. Scotus made 7 of 15 shots from beyond the arc in the game.

The Shamrocks had a great start, with Shania Borchers scoring on Scotus’ first possession with a chance for a traditional 3-point play. She missed the free throw, but Lehr came up with an offensive rebound that led to a trey from Grace Wickham to give the Shamrocks an early 5-2 lead.

Neumann turned to its rebounding prowess to take control of the game, scoring the final six points of the quarter to take a 10-7 lead.

Lindsey Thiele’s 3-pointer to open the second quarter capped a 9-0 run for the Cavaliers. Neumann continued to pound the boards and led 22-15 at the half.

The Cavaliers had eight offensive rebounds in the first half. Scotus had seven total rebounds.

The Shamrocks came out in the second half with a renewed spirit. The defense clamped down and they started rebounding the ball.

“They upped their intensity and did get a little closer to Aspen,” Neumann head coach Jason Simons said. “If they didn’t know what flavor of gum she was chewing in the first half, they definitely did in the second half.”

Scotus held the all-state player to just 4-for-18 shooting.

“She’s an incredible player and has such great body control” Ridder said. “It’s a team effort. We win because we’re a team.”

After being outrebounded 16-7 in the first half, the Shamrocks matched Neumann in the second half as they chipped away at the seven-point deficit.

“I just think we went and got them. We did a better job checking out. We were a lot more aggressive with it and I think it was the biggest difference,” Ridder said of the improved rebounding.

Wickham and Feehan knocked down 3-pointers in the third quarter to pull Scotus within three, 24-21. Kendra Wiese, who finished with 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting, hit a midrange jumper at the buzzer to make it 26-23 going to the final quarter.

The Shamrocks pulled even early in the fourth quarter with five straight points from Wiese to knot the game at 28-all.

Neumann regained control until Lehr’s trey changed everything.

It still hasn’t set in for her.

“It’s going to hit me probably tomorrow, but right now it’s just so much emotion, I don’t know,” she said.

Scotus came into the state tournament as the No. 5 seed, but nobody is doubting the Shamrocks now after they knocked off No. 4 Wahoo, No. 1 Mitchell and finished the journey by beating No. 2 Neumann.

Add in a victory over No. 3 Lincoln Christian in the district final and Scotus put the argument to bed on who the best team in C-1 was this season.

“Throughout the season, our kids have been in different situations in games and no matter what happens to them, they just keep playing,” Ridder said. “We just have all these kids that rallied and made plays. They just kept playing and playing. They did a great job.”

For the Shamrocks’ seven seniors – Wiese, Feehan, Wickham, Borchers, Marika Spencer, Grace Odbert and Madison Kerkman -- they get their dream ending.


Load comments