All it took for Millard North was to go on a furious second quarter run to put them in the driver’s seat in the Class A girls state basketball championship on Saturday night at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Mustangs outscored Lincoln Southwest 23-6 during that stretch to earn a 62-52 victory and earn their first basketball title in school history.
Millard North (23-4) connected on 9-of-13 shots for 69 percent from the field and finished the first half on a 13-0 run, which included a 360-degree reverse layup from Nicole Avila-Ambrosi that drew a roar of applause from the Mustang faithful and awes of disbelief from Silver Hawk fans.
But it was the play of senior and Missouri-Kansas City commit Lauren West that stood out in the game. She scored 14 of her game-high 31 points in the first half and grabbed 13 rebounds in the game, and Millard North led at halftime 34-18.
The achillies heel for Southwest, who finished the season 22-5, was free-throw shooting, shooting 50 percent (14-of-28) from the line in the game. During one stretch, the Silver Hawks were 4-of-13.
Southwest came out of the second half on an 8-2 run, sparked by the play of Illinois State recruit Hannah Kelle, who scored seven points in the quarter before trailing by ten heading into the final quarter. The Silver Hawks later trailed 41-34 after Jaden Ferguson converted on a three-point play with 7:33 remaining.
Southwest cut the deficit down to six after forcing a turnover, then Kelle later missed a three-point attempt before West was fouled and hit two free throws to extend the Millard North lead to 58-47 with 1:16 left.
Avila-Ambrosi added 13 points for the Mustangs in the win. Ferguson, who finished tied for first in career scoring at Southwest with Lauren Works, had 16 points, while Kelle added 12 in the loss for the Silver Hawks.
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Follow Jeff Motz on Twitter: @JeffMotzKFOR.