Westside Girls Basketball Fails to Qualify for the State Tournament


The 2020-2021 Varsity Girls Basketball season has come to an end, following an overtime loss to Gretna in a district semifinal match.

The season began in early December of 2020, and spirits were high. The team had a rocky end to their previous season with the rise of COVID-19 and a loss to Fremont at the state tournament, but the returning players were excited to get back on the basketball court. For head coach Steven Clark, the focus had been on rebuilding the team and getting everyone back into the swing of things. 

“I always look forward to how this team is going to come together [and] how relationships are going to get built,” Clark said. “I look forward to how our team develops chemistry-wise [and] how we can get them to play at a higher level than they used to.”

The team lost four of their starting five players, so returning juniors Kaitlyn Hanna, Madilyn Seibler and Adriana DiPrima would play key roles as team leaders and playmakers. Clark said he was confident in those three, along with seniors Ellie Tempero and Ruby Secora, to help build team chemistry.

“Ellie and Ruby as seniors are really doing a nice job. Some of the juniors that have been on the team for a couple years are doing a really great job of showing up for each other, really talking everybody through how everything works, holding people accountable but yet acknowledging when they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” Clark said.

In the opening games of the season, it was juniors Hanna, Siebler, DiPrima, and Livi Kraft who received starting spots on the court, along with sophomore Lucy Schonlau. Both Kraft and Schonlau had transferred to Westside after their freshman seasons, Kraft coming from Papillion La-Vista and Schonlau from Duchesne.

“A lot of us were not used to starting and being leaders, so it was a challenge navigating that and figuring out leadership roles and how to work best with each other on the court,” Siebler said.

The team split the first two weeks of the season and swept the third, giving them a 4-2 record heading into the Metro Holiday Tournament where they were seeded 13th. In two upset games, Westside knocked out Papio South and Burke. Schonlau made a large impact in those two games, working the offense in the paint. Along with Schonlau, juniors DiPrima and Siebler had a great showing in the opening of the tournament.

“We had some great games against some tough teams this season, as well as a few slumps. Every team is going to have that. We just need to be able to control when and how that happens, and stay positive. This season, we talked a lot about building our culture within the program,” Hanna said.

It was when the team ran into Millard South in the semi-final round that they experienced some defensive trouble and got knocked out. The outcome of that game was the same for most players: they were going to start the year showing up and playing hard.

“We did a lot of great things and proved we could be a good team, but with that came some not-so-good stretches. Looking back, it feels like a learning year; we didn’t end how we wanted but we’re going to learn from it and take that into next year,” Hanna said.

They started 2021 with a win against Lincoln Northeast, and the wins kept stacking up after that. They started the sixth week of the season with a district win-loss record of 10-2. Unfortunately, the sixth week was when that winning streak came to an end, starting with a loss at home against Papio South. That loss turned into a cold streak of sorts, and, despite the team’s effort, they were unable to make a comeback. The team ended the season with an eight-game losing streak. In those eight games, they would lose to two possible metro opponents — Gretna, who they faced in the first round, and Millard South, who they would have seen later in the tournament. The team’s season would end with a devastating overtime upset loss to Gretna in the first round of the Distract tournament that would end the Warriors season. For Siebler, losing that last game left a bitter taste in her mouth. 

“Losing your last game, whether it’s the state championship or first round of districts, sucks. This one was especially hard because I know we could’ve beat Gretna. We just came up short. It’s not a good feeling, but I’m so grateful that we got a season at all, and I know we can come back stronger next year,” Siebler said.

With this rough end to the Warriors season, they look to forget this one and move onto the next season.  The team will only be losing two seniors and will have a lot of experience at all five positions. They are still focused and ready for it as they look to come back and make a big impact and make a deep run into the playoffs and raise up a trophy at the end of it.

“We are losing two players for the upcoming season, so it will be great how we have a ton of returners and can perfect our game even more,” Hanna said. “We’ve started to make dates already for summer camps and skills. I know all nine of us seniors are looking forward to a great season next year.”