Nickerson secures berth at 3A state

Published: Mar. 6, 2022 at 12:06 PM CST
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NICKERSON, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - The Nickerson Lady Panthers defeated the Hesston Lady Swathers by a score of 48-37 to advance to the 3A State Basketball Tournament.

Nickerson hosted the Sub-State tournament on their home court. This was the first year that they competed in Class 3A instead of 4A.

The 20-1 Lady Panthers faced a 16-6 Lady Swather squad for a chance to go to Hutchinson for the 3A tournament.

Both teams stayed fairly close to each other in the first quarter. Nickerson held just a 9-7 lead at the end of the first period.

The Hesston defense held Nickerson to just nine points in the second quarter. The Lady Swathers scored 13 to take a two-point lead into the locker room for halftime.

Nickerson retook the lead with 6:10 to go in the third quarter on an Ava Jones basket and an and-one foul. She made the free throw to make the score 21-20.

Katie Kueker immediately made a basket and was fouled. She also made the ensuing free throw to put Hesston back on top 23-21.

The Lady Panthers would go on a 14-3 run over the next four and a half minutes to take control of the game. Nickerson would make five three-pointers in the third quarter. Alexis Allen made two while Josie McLean sank three of them. The treys helped the Lady Panthers to a 39-30 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Hesston’s Katie Kueker and Kendal Brueggen combined for seven points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. They narrowed the Nickerson lead to 39-37. The Lady Panthers would not allow another point from Hesston for the rest of the game.

Hesston tried to foul for possession, but they could not get through the Lady Panther defense. In the meantime, the Lady Panthers added to their lead from the free-throw line. They went seven of ten from the line to give them a 48-37 victory.

“I’m just proud of the girls,” said Nickerson Head Coach Jon McLean. “They played hard. It wasn’t looking real good at halftime. We weren’t shooting the ball well at the half. Josie stepped up and make some big threes.”

Nickerson’s Josie McLean led all scorers with 18 points. “When the shots finally started to go in, I started gaining more confidence and confidence. I knew they would go in when I shot.”

Fellow Lady Panther Ava Jones added 12 points. Kendal Brueggen led the Lady Swathers with 15 points.

“We talked all year about if we make the State Tournament, it will be in our back yard and have a lot of local support,” said Coach McLean. “It will be an awesome experience for our girls, their families, and the community. It was a tough, gritty win and that’s the only way we could win it, being a tough team. They are going to get a nice reward playing in the Sports Arena.”

“I just ran over to my dad and hugged him. It was the best feeling ever,” said Josie McLean. “This is my dad’s and I last year playing together with him as my coach. It was really special to see this win and take home a championship.”

Jon McLean has accepted the position as the Activities Director for Hutchinson High School for the next school year.

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