Okarche needed an inside presence Friday afternoon against Erick and it found it in the form of junior guard Kenadey Grellner.
Normally a guard, Grellner moved to forward and scored 11 second-half points to help the top-ranked Warriors pull away from No. 4 Erick 52-41 in a Class B semifinals battle of reigning champions at State Fair Arena.
Her play, alongside Morgan Vogt’s, was the result of a challenge from veteran coach Cherie Myers at halftime.
“By attacking and using our game plan,” Grellner said about the halftime challenge. “She just said they can’t handle us if we attack, so we kept attacking and pulled away.”
Okarche, last year’s Class A champion, will play the winner of Lomega and Red Oak for the title at 1:45 p.m. Saturday.
The Warriors (28-2) are in their third straight title game, but first in Class B.
“Everybody’s made a big deal of the class,” Myers said. “That doesn’t phase us. When I came to Okarche we were 2A. We have been 2A, A, B and back to A or whatever. We plan to be in the state tournament against somebody in whatever class it is. I’m real pleased we’re here again.”
Vogt and Grellner combined for 22 of the Warriors 27 second-half points, scoring each point until junior Madison Lee made two free throws with 1:47 remaining in the game.
That dominance pushed Okarche from a 25-17 halftime lead to a lead as much as 14.
“We just challenged them at halftime that they’ve got to step up and take over if we’re going to get out of here,” Myers said. “They’ve always been our go-to. I was pleased to see them step up.”
Vogt finished with 24 points, while Grellner finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds with the majority of her scoring coming from the block or putbacks.
“That kind of caught us off guard because we had a little guard on her because she played on the perimeter so much,” Erick coach Justin Janz said.
Erick (26-4) was limited to just two points in the first quarter, but only trailed by seven due to keeping the game at its methodical pace. However, two 3s by Randi Hugnagel early in the second put the Bearcats in a big hole.
They were able to get within eight behind Shyli May’s 3-pointer with 1:05 remaining in the game, but they were out of timeouts and Okarche made three more free throws to seal the win.
Sophomore Makenzie Janz led Erick with 17 points. May, a senior, finished with 10 points.