WARSAW — Bishop Luers’ run to state will end at three.
The Knights’ 74-55 loss to Eastern in the Class 2A girls basketball semistate Saturday prevented another state trip from happening.
Luers (14-12) had been to the last three state finals, winning a title in 2011 and runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2012.
Eastern (22-3) advanced to its first state finals behind 48 points and 20 rebounds from Brittany Neeley and 16 points and 12 rebounds from her twin sister, Bethany.
Eastern’s all-time leading scorer, Brittany Neeley was 13 of 23 from the field and 19 of 21 from the free-throw line.
She was 3 for 3 on three-pointers.
“My teammates did a really good job of finding me,” Brittany Neeley said. “This was probably one of the worst weeks of practice ever for me. I couldn’t make a shot or a free throw.
“But I just came out with confidence from the free-throw line. Coach (Jeremy Dexter) always tells us we are winners, and that’s what I was thinking the whole time.”
Luers coach Denny Renier said the game plan was geared to stopping Brittany Neeley.
“The Neeley girl just killed us,” Renier said. “We told the girls that when she gets the ball she is not going to stop, but we just didn’t do a very good job, and that’s an underestimate. But I will give her credit, she put on quite a performance.
“It is hard to go out this way because single-handed she almost beat us, with her and her sister (Bethany) combined.”
Luers, with only two starters back from last year, had beaten its three sectional and two regional opponents by an average of 66-36.
“It is really hard on us,” Luers junior Addie Reimbold said. “But nobody expected this from us, so we are proud of ourselves for coming this far.”
Luers got 13 points from Reimbold and Emma Wolfe. Tashayla Sutorius added 11 and Erin Butler had eight.
“(Brittany Neeley) had the game of her life, and there’s nothing you can do about that,” Reimbold said. “She didn’t stop driving to the basket. We did everything you could to stop her, but it didn’t work too good.”
The Knights cut a double-figure margin to 38-34 midway through the third, but Eastern pulled away from there.
“This team jumped on us, and we just never got over that,” Renier said. “It is disappointing from that standpoint. But I am not going to get down on my kids. They gave it their best shot. We just didn’t play that well.”
The Comets made 26 of 32 from the free-throw line, while the Knights were only 10 of 12.
Three Luers players fouled out, and the Knights were outrebounded 53-32. Luers made only 20 of 62 shots (32 percent).
The Knights trailed 29-20 at halftime. Luers’ second-leading scorer, Allison Butler, was scoreless and picked up her third foul early in the second, although she did return later in the quarter.
Luers, which leads the state with six state championships and nine state finals appearances, will graduate two seniors, reserves Sarah Gigli and Schrae Hammock.
“We will be back next year,” Reimbold said. “We have a lot of talent coming back.”