The Wellsville High School girls are looking to make history in its own tournament.
The Eagles advanced to the Top Gun Tournament championship game only for the second time in the 30-year history of the event. Wellsville went to the title game in the first year and have never been back.
Wellsville upset state-ranked Baldwin, 54-47, in Thursday’s semifinals. The other semifinal saw top-ranked Nemaha Central down Anderson County, 66-42. Wellsville and Nemaha Central play at 5 p.m. Saturday in the championship game. Wellsville has never won the title, finishing as the runner-up in the first tournament.
“This night here is the one hurdle we had to get over,” Wellsville coach Brock Campbell said. “We have played for third-place so many times. We have played well in the third-place game. Finally good to do it.”
Campbell said the quality of the Top Gun Tournament is top-notch.
“It has been that way for a long time,” he said. “We have had some good teams the past few years. That shows the quality of teams in this tournament. Sometimes, three or four of them you will see at state.”
Campbell said the Eagles are excited to play in the championship game.
“We have a chance to make a name for ourselves,” Campbell said. “We just beat Baldwin, who is ranked in 4A. Now we have a chance to go after the No. 1 3A team.”
The seniors — Demi Aamold, Madie McCoy and Aubrey Ball — have a chance to showcase their talent on the big stage.
“I am glad they can get this victory and show how hard they have been working and how good they are,” Campbell said. “The seniors have played varsity since they were young. We have three good leaders. When they leave here, they will be the winningest class we have ever had.”
Campbell said Nemaha Central will be another huge challenge.
“We have to play just as well or better (Saturday) night,” Campbell said. “They have similar girls (as Baldwin) They run the floor. They are athletic. It will be a challenge and is looking forward to it. We can match up with anybody we play.”
Wellsville and Baldwin, old rivals, went at each other hard from start to finish.
“That took a lot of effort for our girls,” Campbell said. “The girls played well. We had to go and earn it.”
The game was tight until the final moments of the third quarter when the Eagles spurted to a 10-point lead, 43-33. Baldwin quickly cut that deficit in half with a 5-0 spurt in less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
“I was worried when we were up 10 and they cut it to five really quick in the fourth quarter,” Campbell said. “We kept playing. We executed well. Defensively, we were great. We shut some of their shooters down.”
Campbell said Baldwin is a hard team to keep play.
“They keep coming and scratching,” Campbell said. “A couple of threes and they are back in it. They shoot the ball well. They are quick and can attack the basket. They are always pushing. It puts pressure on us to get back and play good defense. We did a good job of handling pressure, especially down at the end.”
Wellsville sealed the game at the free-throw line, by hitting eight of 10 from the line in the fourth quarter.
Demi Aamold paced the Eagles with 18 points. Aubrey Ball tossed in 13 points and Madi McCoy had 12 points
“This tournament is tough,” Campbell said. “It is great competition. We are glad to be going to the championship. Year 30, we are back.”
Baldwin (47) — Newfeld 2, Boyle 23, Burnett 10, Russell 5, Smith 7.
Wellsville (54) — Aamold 18, McCoy 12, Troutman 6, McDaniel 5, Ball 13.