William Chrisman girls basketball coach Lindsay Thompson swore to her team that its shooting drought couldn’t last forever.

William Chrisman girls basketball coach Lindsay Thompson swore to her team that its shooting drought couldn’t last forever.

She promised her players they’d eventually find the basket and like a sip of water in the desert it’d offer a much-needed jolt.

She was right, the Bears did eventually push back in Friday night’s Class 5 District 14 championship against Kearney at William Chrisman High School. But the Bears’ drought was too prolonged – they missed their first 21 shot attempts to start the second half – to make much of a difference and the Bulldogs secured a 49-42 victory.

“That’s a rough day at the office,” said Thompson, whose team shot 11 of 60 from the field. “When you show up and it seems like everything that you put up isn’t falling, it’s hard to overcome mentally and physically.”

Chrisman (19-7) went the entire third quarter without a field goal – its only points coming via four free throws – and didn’t knock down a basket until the 5:22 mark of the fourth period. That enabled Kearney (21-6) to enlarge its 24-20 halftime lead to 40-25.

Thompson said she thought her team could have been more aggressive on the offensive end. Instead of settling for long jumpers – the Bears went 2 of 21 from behind the arc – she said she would have preferred they attack the rim. Of course, it didn’t help that four Kearney regulars stand at least 5-foot-10 with 6-4 Taylor Doan anchoring the paint.

“Their length is so long,” said Chrisman senior Samone Redditt, who finished her high school career with 12 points. “It was just like, ‘Uhh, move.’ They have some great talent.”

Even as the Bears failed to ever find a consistent shooting stroke, they still manufactured a late charge, cutting the Kearney margin to 40-32 with 2:24 left. They had two possessions to cut further into the deficit, but Sykeya Horn misfired on a 3-point try and the Bears turned it over on their next trip.

The Bulldogs never fully slammed the door thanks to an 11-of-24 effort from the free-throw line in the fourth, which allowed Chrisman to pull within 47-42 with 9.9 seconds left. But time eventually ran out on the Bears.

“I can’t say anything to change it, but I think we should have won that game,” said Chrisman junior Drea Quarles, who tallied seven points, six rebounds and two steals.

Nieka Wheeler led Chrisman with 13 points, 12 boards and five steals and Rachel Losch added seven rebounds and five steals to go with her two points.

Meagan Paul and Cassidy Lee boosted Kearney with 13 points apiece while MacKenzie Cook added 10 points and six rebounds and Doan finished with nine points and 12 boards.

Thompson admitted that her group’s youth probably played a role in the loss with four freshmen – Losch, De’Jionae Calloway, Asia Young and Makenzie Erikson logging significant minutes. Only Redditt and Wheeler were holdovers from the group that secured the program’s first district crown since 1994 back in 2009.

That might be the most encouraging aspect of Friday’s disappointment. The Bears will be tasked with replacing Redditt, the squad’s unquestioned leader. But they’ll also be returning a core that plans on earning another championship shot in the near future.

 “The great news is everything we saw tonight that wasn’t favorable for us are things that can be fixed in the offseason,” Thompson said.