Bringing the heat to the hardwood

Patriots look to make run for a state championship title


Ally Seevers

Senior Khloe Lemon releases a three-pointer in the Metro Final game against Bellevue West.

Ally Seevers, Editor-in-Chief

Millard South has always been the team to watch in Class A girls basketball, but after three straight years of falling short in the semifinals of the state tournament, the Patriots look to make history in their last shot at a state championship title.

The team got off to a smooth start, defeating Lincoln North Star 73-37 in the season opener, continuing on to a 5 and O start. 

In their first big challenge of the season, Millard South faced returning 2x Class B state champions, Elkhorn North.

“There was a lot of pressure definitely built up before the game,” senior Khloe Lemon said. “We knew we had to come out and stay calm, and try to get the job done.”

In the game, the Patriots got off to a slow start, trailing Elkhorn North 17-11 after the first quarter. Shooting 46% from beyond the arch, the Wolves extended their lead to 13 after 16 minutes of play.

“Going into halftime, we were down by 13,” Lemon said. “We knew we had to change things on the offensive at the defensive end, so when we came out of halftime, we really just did exactly that and cut the lead.”

The team rallied back in the second half, cutting the lead down to 9 points after the third. A layup from senior Cora Olsen in the final minute of regulation forced the Wolves into overtime. 

As the clock counted down, Senior Mya Babbitt hit a step-back three from beyond the arch to earn the Patriots their first lead of the game with 3 minutes left in overtime.

“Being down by so much at half, hitting that 3 to give us our first lead of the game, it gave us a lot of energy,” Babbitt said. “It felt really good that we had a chance to come back and win.”

After a back-and-forth battle for the lead, with less than a minute left, the Patriots fouled Elkhorn North’s star shooter, junior Britt Prince, sending her to the line. Those two free throws sealed the deal for the Wolves, who closed out the Patriots 65 to 63.

“We were playing good as a team, but unfortunately did not get the job done,” Lemon said, “but I think that we made a good comeback and it showed our grit as a team.”

Coming off their first loss of the regular season, Millard South was seeded #1 in the Omaha Metro Conference Tournament. The Patriots cruised through the opening round, beating Omaha Westview 69-20, then defeating Gretna 69-49 and Bellevue East 84-67 in the semifinals.

While the Patriots were seeded on top going into the championship game against Bellevue West, the Thunderbirds had the home-court advantage. With a packed gym and high energy, the T-Birds got off to a hot start, leading the Patriots 20-19 after the first quarter. 

“We kept giving them open looks, and they kept hitting 15-footers,” Babbitt said. “We weren’t really sharing the ball and hitting our good shots that game, so it was hard for us when they were making everything.”

Bellevue West outscored the Patriots 20 to 13 in the final quarter to upset Millard South and take home the Metro Championship title.

The following week, the Patriots faced the T-Brids again at home during the annual Jam the Gym night, a game of redemption for Millard South.

“I felt like we had a lot more energy coming into the game knowing we lost the first game. It was a lot more hype,” Babbitt said. “We knew we had to come out strong to get a win.”

And that they did. The Patriots lead Bellevue West 34-27 at half. The teams combined for a total of 117 points in the second half, 68 in just the last 8 minutes, setting a new record for points scored in regulation time. 

“When I came off the bench and hit the 3, it really got the momentum going and kind of flipped a switch for us, so it was really cool,” senior JJ Jones said.

The team shot 67% from the field, lead by Olsen, who scored 30 points and went 17 of 18 from the free throw line.

“Offensively, we shared it way better,” head coach Bryce Meyers said. “We were more aggressive getting to the basket and we didn’t settle for bad shots, so that was really nice to see.”

With the win, Millard South held on to their 55-home game winning streak, meaning that these girls have never lost on their home court.

“It’s awesome,” Meyers said. “It’s really hard to do. I mean, to win that many games in a row is something really, really difficult. We’re just taking it one day at a time and just taking care of business.”

As districts quickly approach, the team looks to continue its winning streak and stay on track for a state championship title.

“We just need to stay motivated and know that March is coming, and it’s coming fast,” Babbitt said.