BETHANY—It’s reigning champion against reigning champion in the Class B girls state semifinals on Friday.
For the Class B defending champion Erick, Thursday’s 40-31 win against Timberlake at Southern Nazarene University was not pretty, but it got the job done.
“We played really bad, to be honest, but we’re so experienced we know how to win,” sophomore Makenzie Janz said. “I think it’s because of the experience we got last year.
“We’re a team and if we know someone’s not playing well, we know we’ve got to calm them down. We just win and we just know how to win. We just do it.”
The win set up a matchup with last year’s Class A champion Okarche, which dropped a class this season, noon Friday at State Fair Arena.
“It only takes once and it’s going to be a tough one,” Erick coach Justin Janz said.
Beating Timberlake, though, was tough itself.
Both teams got off to a poor start, combining for just nine points in the opening quarter. Erick (26-3) led just 17-8 at halftime and 22-17 entering the fourth.
But the Bearcats found their offense in the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run midway through the quarter that stopped any momentum Timberlake was trying to build and turn a 24-21 game into a 35-23 advantage.
“We kind of play sloppy,” Justin Janz said. “We’re not the flashiest team and we try to play a lot of half-court basketball. Sometimes that doesn’t look real great. We could have played a lot better, but I do think Timberlake had a whole lot to do with that.”
Six-foot sophomore Tiffany Schlup was a bright spot for the Tigers with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
However, Timberlake (23-6) committed 16 turnovers and never led.
Still, Makenzie Janz called it one of the worst games Erick has played all season. She also knows the Bearcats will have to play better Friday against Okarche.
“We weren’t supposed to win it last year,” said Janz, who finished with 12 points. “When we play, we’re just going to play and have fun. It could be our last game or it could not be, but whatever happens, happens. We’re not supposed to win anyway, so we’ll see what happens.”