Several times in the second half Nokomis had the ball with a chance to cut Gardiner’s lead to one possession before turning the ball over. The Tigers built an eight-point lead with under six minutes left and felt like they had the game in control before the Warriors finally cut it down to one possession. With three minutes left Nokomis had the ball down three against undefeated Gardiner before turning the ball over and letting their upset slip away in a 60-48 loss.
The Warriors led 16-12 after the first quarter and were tied with 70 seconds left in the half before a quick 5-0 run put the Tigers up 31-26 at the break. Their defense forced 14 turnovers on the night but it was undone by their own 15 turnovers when they could make a run. Nokomis couldn’t stop Elizabeth Gruber but the Tigers role players did just enough to pull out the win.
Gruber had another dominating performance of a game high 27 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and two assists, but Megan Gallagher and Savannah Brown’s combined 21 points loomed just as large in the close game. Taylor Takatsu added only six points but had close to double-digit rebounds in a great defensive game.
Camryn King had a team high 17 points to go along with Brianna Townshend’s 14, but struggled to protect the ball when it was needed most. No bench player scored for the Warriors either. Also, after having a 12-17 free throw advantage to Camden Hill’s 2-6 in the quarterfinals, the Warriors only made five trips to the line against Gardiner.
Gardiner plays Lawrence for the Class A North championship Friday.