It had all the makings of a trap game for Bellevue East, but the Chieftains prevailed Tuesday night against Gretna.
Amaun Frazier scored 21 points and Peyton Hagen added 17 in a 62-57 win over the host Dragons. The victory over the Class B school came before the fourth-ranked Chieftains’ big rivalry game Friday night against top-ranked Bellevue West.
“I was very nervous about this one,” Bellevue East coach Blake Anderson said. “I didn’t think we’d be looking past them, but Gretna is a team we just didn’t know much about.”
The rare matchup between the schools went down to the wire, thanks in large part to Dragons senior guard Jamie Schuetz. She finished with a game-high 26, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds that pulled Gretna within 60-57.
“Jamie played well for us tonight,” Dragons coach Jerome Skrdla said. “She really put forth a relentless effort.”
Class B No. 5 Gretna came up just short when Hagen sank a pair of free throws in the final seconds to put the game away.
“We knew that we couldn’t take this game for granted,” Anderson said. “They really pushed us, but I liked the way we kept responding when they got close.”
The Dragons held their last lead at 11-10 late in the first quarter after a pair of free throws by freshman Lauren Leapley. But a 7-0 run gave the Chieftains a little breathing room, and they stubbornly held the lead the rest of the way.
Longtime coach Skrdla, who is 23 wins short of 500 for his career, said the second quarter proved to be critical. That’s when Bellevue East outscored Gretna 15-8 to take control.
“I thought we backed away in that quarter and it cost us,” he said. “We kept battling in the second half, but we just couldn’t get that lead back.”
The Chieftains (10-2) led by eight at halftime, but a 20-point third quarter drew Gretna within 41-39 entering the final period. Schuetz had seven points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth as the Dragons vainly tried to tie the game.
A 3-pointer by Frazier at the start of the fourth quarter widened Bellevue East’s advantage to five, and the lead grew to nine in the final minute. Schuetz’s two late 3-pointers — one coming after a Chieftains turnover — drew the Dragons within three, but Hagen’s free throws sealed the win.
Bellevue East maintained its lead throughout most of the game by scorching the net from behind the arc. The Chieftains sank 8 of 11 3-point attempts (72.7 percent), including 4 of 6 from long-range bomber Hagen.
“Despite the loss, this game was a win-win for us,” Skrdla said. “If we can play a tough Class A team like Bellevue East close, we feel as though we can play with any Class B team.”
Anderson, in his first season as the Chieftains’ head coach, said his team now can focus on its home game Friday at 5:30 p.m. against the Thunderbirds. As usual, a huge crowd is expected.
“I think players on both teams circle the date of that game at the start of the season,” he said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but I think we’ll be ready for it.”
Mary Janovich finished with 15 for Gretna (7-4), which returns to action Friday night at Nebraska City.
Bellevue East (10-2) ..... 12 15 14 21—62
Gretna (7-4) .................. 11 8 20 18—57
BE: Peyton Hagen 5-9 3-4 17, Sara Gengel 2-4 0-0 4, Roshawn Hollie 4-6 1-2 11, Haley Ourada 0-5 0-0 0, Joslyn Brewer 1-2 0-0 2, Amaun Frazier 6-11 8-10 21, Viktoreea Cox 3-6 0-1 7.
G: Jamie Schuetz 9-14 6-8 26, Madison Meadows 1-8 0-0 3, Maren Soupir 0-3 5-6 5, Audra Keehn 1-4 0-2 2, Lauren Leapley 1-1 1-1 3, Mary Janovich 5-10 5-6 15, Mackenzie Oliver 1-2 0-0 3, Kelsey Skokan 0-1 0-0 0.
3-point goals: BE 8-11 (Hagen 4-6, Hollie 2-2, Frazier 1-2, Cox 1-1); G 4-14 (Schuetz 2-5, Meadows 1-5, Soupir 0-2, Janovich 0-1, Oliver 1-1). Rebounds: BE 28 (Ourada 6); G 25 (Schuetz 8). Total fouls: BE 18; G 16. Turnovers: BE 17; G 13. Field-goal percentage: BE .488; G .418. Free-throw percentage: BE .705; G .739.