Clippers finish with fourth place at state


It was a moment a quarter-century in the making.

When the final buzzer sounded at the Malcolm girls’ state tournament opener the scoreboard read Malcolm 46, Wahoo 32. It was the Clippers’ first win at the tournament since 1998 and only the second in school history.

“Third time was the charm,” Malcolm head coach Andy Klepper said about beating a team they had lost to twice in the regular season.

Wahoo took a 2-0 lead when Sammy Leu scored on the Warriors’ opening possession. It was their only lead of the day as Malcolm outscored Wahoo 22-14 through the remainder of the first half.

“We paid extra attention to their ability to hit from outside,” Klepper said. “That’s how they’ve gotten back into games against us in the past. We needed to shut that down.”

In the first two meetings, the Warriors hit nine and 10 three-pointers respectively. The Clippers held them to just five in the March 1 game at the Devaney Sports Center.

While Halle Dolliver led Malcolm with 19 points, it was the presence of Emma Brown on the inside that was a huge factor in the win. The 6-foot senior went 5-of-8 from the field and scored 12 points.

“They came out of their usual zone and played man,” Klepper said. “We took advantage of a mismatch and Emma played really well. We needed all those buckets.

“This was such a big win for our seniors. After getting there three times, to finally get that win was pretty special.”

The March 3 semifinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena provided Malcolm another chance to avenge a loss. Top-ranked, three-time defending state champions, North Bend Central proved to be too much in a 48-42 defeat.

The Clippers jumped out to an early 6-2 lead before things took a tough turn. With just over five minutes to play in the first quarter, Alyssa Fortik sustained a season-ending knee injury on an attempted layup. That left Malcolm without the school’s all-time leading scorer.

“We knew it wasn’t good when she didn’t pop right up,” Klepper said. “She’s so tough. She never stays down. You just hate seeing it end like that. She’s been such an important part of our run.”

Even without their floor general, the Clippers stayed in the fight and went into the halftime break tied 20-20.

“Credit our girls for adjusting on the fly,” Klepper said. “Alyssa quarterbacks all of our set plays. We had to get creative.”

Behind Kaitlyn Emanuel, the Tigers looked like they would blow out Malcolm in the second half. The senior all-stater sparked a 16-4 run in the third quarter to give NBC some cushion. Emanuel finished with 22 points.

“It looked bleak,” Klepper said. “I think everyone thought we battled as well as we could, but without Alyssa that was all we could do.”

Dolliver and the Clippers had other ideas. After Madison Schultz opened the final frame with a three-pointer, Dolliver scored the next 15 points for Malcolm as part of an 18-7 run that closed the gap to a single point, 43-42, with 44.4 seconds to play.

“We decided to come out and press them and see if we could rattle them,” Klepper said, “Madison got some tips and deflections that really helped us out.”

The Tigers hit some clutch free throws in the final 45 seconds of the game to secure the win.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way the girls fought,” Klepper said. “It was all grit.”

Dolliver finished with 25 points while Diamond Sedlak added 11.

Sedlak and Dolliver were key to keeping the Clippers in the third place game the next day against No. 2 Bridgeport. In yet another rematch for Malcolm, the Bulldogs outlasted the Clippers in a 69-58 win.

Dolliver scored 28 while Sedlak had a career high 22 as the duo combined for 50 of the team’s 58 points.

“Bridgeport, with their two D-I commits, was definitely not a matchup you wanted after losing your all-state point guard,” Klepper said. “But our girls had a great attitude and they showed up believing they could win.”

Dolliver closed the weekend with a school record 72 points in the state tournament and was named to multiple Class C1 all-tournament teams. Her 72 points were the most in C1 and tied for second in all classes. The freshman also set a school record with 581 points this season.

Malcolm wraps up the season with a 22-7 record. The fourth-place trophy is the first state basketball trophy in the school’s trophy case.

“It’s been an awesome run for this group,” Klepper said about his seniors making their third appearance at state. “What a bunch of hard workers and good friends that complimented each other so well on the court. This bunch earned everything they got.”