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2020 State Tournament Roundup: Semifinals

March 13, 2020

Despite cancellations across the country, the Nebraska boys state basketball tournament continued on Friday with the semifinal rounds at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Devaney Center. The arenas were closed to the general public, but Jacob Padilla was there to recap all of the action at the Vault for Hail Varsity.

Here’s the roundup from Thursday's quarterfinal round.


No. 4 Ogallala 47, No. 1 Hastings Adams Central 35

The small crowd that made it through the doors at Pinnacle Bank Arena for the first game of the day was not treated to an offensive masterpiece of a game, but Ogallala likely had no issues with winning ugly to earn a berth into its first state title game since 1992.

The Indians got off to a strong start and finished even stronger, closing the game on a 14-2 run after Adams Central tied the game with 6:22 to play. Ogallala turned offense into defense with transition buckets and trips to the foul line while the Patriots came up empty tim and time again.

John S. Peterson
Carter Brown led Ogallala with 14 points.

The Indians jumped out to a 9-3 lead to start the game and led 13-8 after one. The Indians scored the first four points of the second quarter for an 8-0 run, but the Patriots shut them out the rest of the quarter. Adams Central closed the half on an 11-0 run to take a 19-17 lead at the break.

The third quarter featured a few ties as the teams traded blows. Ogallala pulled ahead 33-29 before Adams Central closed out the quarter with a pair of free throws from Gavin Lipovsky. Cam Foster, the Patriots’ leading scorer on the year, scored his first points on a steal and score to tie it up with 6:22 to go. 

The Patriots only scored two more points the rest of the way. They shot 2-of-10 from the field and 0-of-2 from the line with four turnovers.

Carter Brown led Ogallala with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals. Adam Kroeger had 12 points and six rebounds and Kadyn Marhenke had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds (six offensive).

Lipovsky led Adams Central with nine points, seven of which came in the third quarter.


  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Hastings Adams Central 8 11 12 4 35
Ogallala 13 4 16 14 47

HAC: Gavin Lipovsky 9, Tyler Slechta 8, Travis Niemeyer 7, Lucas Bohlen 5, Dante Boelhower 4, Cam Foster 2

O: Carter Brown 14, Adam Kroeger 12, Kadyn Marhenke 11, Clayton Murphy 7, Corbin Murphy 3

No 2 Auburn 49, No. 3 Lincoln Christian 37

Game two got off to an even slower start than game one with nine points and eight turnovers between the two teams, but Auburn got going in the second quarter and outscored Ogallala 45-32 the rest of the way to keep its undefeated season and repeat bid alive.

Auburn junior Cam Binder went scoreless in the first period but scored eight points apiece in the last three to finish with game-high 24 on 5-of-7 from the filed (4-of-5 from 3) and 10-of-10 from the line.

John S. Peterson
Cam Binder scored 24 points in three quarters to lead the Bulldogs back to the championship game.

After entering the second quarter down 5-4, Auburn put together a 14-2 run sparked by eight points from Binder. Ashton Carlos knocked down a late 3-pointer to make it 18-10 Auburn at halftime.

Both sides came out of their locker rooms locked in as the first seven possessions of the half produced points. Auburn went inside to 6-foot-8 post Josh Lambert for three quick buckets, but Lincoln Christian hit its first four shots including a pair of 3s to make it 24-20.

Binder got loose for a pair of corners 3s, one from each side, to stretch the lead out to 10. Christian responded with a 7-0 run orchestrated by Justin Bubak and Drew Beukelman, but Auburn ended the quarter with a pair of free throws by Binder and a steal and score by Dan Frary to make it 34-27 heading into the fourth.

After a pair of Binder free throws to open the final period, Auburn committed there straight offensive fouls. However, the Indians couldn’t take advantage as their first bucket of the fourth didn’t come until the 4:27 mark. Auburn sealed the game with a 7-1 run to build its lead up to 12.

After a slow start against Lincoln Christian’s 6-foot-11 sophomore Easton Marshbanks, Lambert got going and finished with 12 points and five boards. The Bulldogs shot 7-of-9 from the field (2-of-3 from 3) and 15-of-16 from the foul line in the second half, and their two misses were both blocked.

Justin Bubak led Christian with 15 points and seven rebounds (five offensive) wile Ashton Carlson chipped in 11.

Auburn will take on No. 4 Ogallala for the Class C1 championship at 11 a.m.


  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Auburn 4 14 16 15 49
Lincoln Christian 5 5 17 10 37

A: Cam Binder 24, Josh Lambert 12, Dan Frary 8, CJ Hughes 3, Hayden Hall 2

LC: Justin Bubak 15, Ashton Carlson 12, Drew Beukelman 5, Easton Marshbanks 3, Gavin McGerr 2


No. 1 Omaha Skutt 59, No. 5 Elkhorn Mt Michael 55

Omaha Skutt’s journey towards an undefeated season continues as the SkyHawks pulled ahead late and held on to beat Elkhorn Mt. Michael on Friday.

With Skutt leading 44-42, a Mt. Michael turnover created a transition opportunity for Charlie Fletcher. A Knight fouled him to stop the break with 3:05 on the clock, but an official ruled it an intentional foul. Fletcher hit both free throws, then Tyson Gordon converted a three-point play on the ensuing possession, fouling out Mt. Michael’s Kaleb brink in the process.

John S. Peterson
Tyson Gordon scored a game-high 26 points for the SkyHawks.

Gordon hit the free throw to make it 49-42 with 2:29 to go and the SkyHawks hit enough free throws down the stretch to punch their ticket to the state final.

The SkyHawks jumped out to a 9-2 start, but Mt. Michael responded with a 7-0 run to tie it. The Knights surged ahead late in the quarter but Andrew Merfeld knocked down a 3 to tie it up at 16-all after one.

After more than two minutes of scoreless basketball, Skutt got going a bit and outscore Mt. Michael 11-5 to take a 27-21 lead at halftime. Merfeld scored the last points of the period again with a steal and breakaway layup.

Skutt held Mt. Michael’s top two scorers, Kaleb Brink and Brad Bennett, scoreless for the first 16 minutes, but the duo got going a bit in the third, combining for nine of Mt Michael’s 13 points. Gordon was the only one who scored in the quarter for Skutt as Mt. Micheal cut its deficit to two at 36-34.

The sides went back and forth throughout the fourth until the decisive stretch.

Gordon led all scorer with 26 points, six rebounds and two steals. Fletcher added 11 points and seven boards. Merfeld scored nine points and was the primary defender on Bennett, the junior guard for Mt. Michael that went off for 23 points and six 3-pointers against Wahoo in the first round. Bennett finished with eight points on 3-of-8 shooting and only got off one 3-point attempt.

Airan Lopez led the Knights with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting (2-of-2 from 3). He got them going early with six of the teams’ first nine points and then scored a few buckets late to give them a chance at the end. Parker Hottovy chipped in nine points off the bench.


  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Omaha Skutt 16 11 9 23 59
Elkhorn Mt. Michael 16 5 13 21 55

OS: Tyson Gordon 26, Charlie Fletcher 11, Andrew Merfeld 9, Luke Skar 8, Eli Carbullido 2, Will McMeen 1

EMM: Airan Lopez 16, Parke Hottovy 9, Brad Bennett 8, Kaleb Brink 8, Greg Gonzalez 7, Joe Chouinard 5, Kyle Pelan 2

No. 6 Omaha Roncalli 68, No. 2 Scottsbluff 55

The Bearcats knocked the Crimson Pride out of the playoffs the last two years on the gridiron, but Roncalli returned the favor on Friday afternoon to advance to its second straight Class B title game.

Both squads featured football stars in big roles, so the two sides were well acquainted with each other despite it being their first meeting.

John S. Peterson
Jack Dotzler suffed the stat sheet with 15 points, five assists and five rebounds for Roncalli.

Scottbluff pushed the tempo in the open floor and exploited its size advantage in the halfcourt to jump out to a 22-11 lead at the end of the first. Scottsbluff seniors Jasiya DeOllos (a Western Nebraska Community College Commit) and Sam Clarkson (a Northwest Missouri State football commit) combined for 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

Scottsbluff pushed the lead to 13 before Roncalli settled in and rattled off a 13-2 run to make it 30-28 Scottsbluff at halftime. Morningside commit Jack Dotzler and Wayne State football commit Shane Orr combined for 13 of Roncalli’s 17 in the quarter to turn the game around.

The teams traded runs in the third quarter and the Bearcats maintained their two-point lead heading into the fourth at 41-39.

After three lead changes and a couple ties, Roncalli pulled ahead for good with five straight (three by sophomore Jake Orr and two by Shane Orr). Two Scottsbluffs buckets (the second a tough turnaround jumper by DeOllos) sandwiched a Roncalli free throw to make it 55-53 with 1:38, but the Bearcats went ice cold and Roncalli closed the game on a 13-2 run including 11-of-12 shooting at the free-throw line.

Shane Orr scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. He shot 5-of-12 from the field and 11-of-13 from the line and grabbed five rebounds. Dotzler finished with 15 points including 8-of-10 free-throw shooting, five rebounds and five assists. Midland commit Taiden Red chipped in 12 points while Jake Orr did a bit of everything with seven points, nine rebounds and four assists. The Crimson Pride shot 25-of-33 from the foul line including 16-of-20 in the fourth quarter.

DeOllos led Scottbsluff with 21 points, six rebounds and three assists. Clarkson had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, five rebounds and two blocks.  

Roncalli will face top-seeded and undefeated Omaha Skutt in the Class B title game on Saturday at 1 p.m.


  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Scottsbluff 22 8 11 14 55
Omaha Roncalli 11 17 11 29 68

S: Jasiya DeOllos 21, Sam Clarkson 15, Dawson Mohr 9, Sabastian Harsh, Jack Darnell 2, Chance Parker 2, Quentin Scott 2

OR: Shane Orr 24, Jack Dotzler 15, Taiden Red 12, Mitch Hines 8, Jake Orr 7, Nolan Gorczyca 2


No. 1 Bellevue West 89, No. 4 Omaha Westside 70

Friday’s first A semifinal looked like it was going to be a track meet early, but the Thunderbirds ended up lapping the Warriors as they dominated the second quarter before cruising into the title game.

Bellevue West scored 21 or more in all four quarters in an offensive clinic. The Thunderbirds shot nearly 60% from the field and had 16 assists with just five turnovers.

Both teams were running and gunning throughout the first quarter. With the Thunderbirds holding onto a 23-22 lead in the final seconds of the first quarter, the ball found freshman point guard Josiah Dotzler and he attacked the basket for a tough-and-one to give his team a four-point lead heading into the second quarter. Dotzler was terrific all game with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

John S. Peterson
Bellevue West junior Frankie Fidler scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half against Omaha Westside.

The second quarter was all Bellevue West. The T-Birds held Westside to 2-of-8 shooting with four turnovers, outscoring the Warriors 21-8 to make it 47-30 at halftime. Junior Frankie Fidler put up 18 by himself in the first half on 6-of-6 from the field (2-of-2 from 3) and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. 

After a brief surge by Westside to cut it to 13 early in the third quarter, the Thunderbirds pushed the lead to 20 a few times and led 68-48 at the end of the period. Junior Wisconsin commit Chucky Hepburn opened the fourth quarter with a three-point play to push the lead to 23 and the Warriors never threatened the rest of the way.

Hepburn had a monster game, finishing with 28 points on 10-of-16 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line, 12 assists with just one turnover, six rebounds and four steals. Frankie Fidler finished with 23 points on 8-of-9 from the field and 5-of-8 from the foul line and eight rebounds. Louis Fidler chipped in 16 points, four boards and three steals.

Senior PJ Ngambi led the Warriors with 18 points, five assists and three steals while backcourt partner and Omaha signee Jadin Booth added 15 points and six rebounds. Sophomore Reggie Thomas scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds while senior Carl Brown chipped in 12 points and six boards.


  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Bellevue West 26 21 21 21 89
Omaha Westside 22 8 18 22 70

BW: Chucky Hepburn 28, Frankie Fidler 23, Louis Fidler 16, Josiah Dotzler 10, John Shanklin 6, Trey Hepburn 4, Nate Glantz 2

OW: PJ Ngambi 18, Jadin Booth 15, Reggie Thomas 13, Carl Brown 12, Chandler Meeks 8, Cal Weidemann 4

No. 2 Millard North 80, No. 6 Omaha South 59

The Mustangs turned a one-possession game at halftime into a complete rout with a 29-9 third quarter and cruised through the fourth to knock out the reigning champs and advance to the title game.

After trading buckets early, Millard North hit South with a 7-2 run to pull ahead 18-10. The Titans shaved a couple points of the deficit to end the first quarter at 0-14, then the Packers doubled up the Mustangs 18-9 in the second quarter to take a 32-29 lead at halftime. South senior guard and Wayne State commit Jay Saunders led all scorers with 12 on 6-of-8 shooting at the break

The teams went back and forth twice before Millard North turned up the intensity, ripping off a 21-2 run to turn a three-point deficit into a commanding 54-38 lead. After a three-point play by RaShawn McNeal-Lee snapped the run, the Mustangs tacked on four more free throws to make it 58-41 after three quarters. Hunter Sallis outscored South 12-9 by himself in the third.

John S. Peterson
Saint Thomas had a big game for Millard North with 19 points and eight assists. 

South didn’t get enough stops to cut into the deficit. With a couple minutes to go and Millard North firmly in control, Sallis threw a lob to sophomore Jasen Green in transition, but his momentum carried him forward and he ended up hurting his ankle. He looked to be in a lot of pain and was helped back to the locker room, but after the game he was back walking around with some ice wrapped around it. Millard North coach Tim Cannon called it a “mild sprain” and said he expected Sallis to be ready to go on Saturday.

Sallis finished with a game-high 24 points on 10-of-15 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3 and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line, five rebounds and four assists. Saint Thomas had a terrific game as well with 19 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line, eight assists and six rebounds. Green, a 2022 Nebraska target, chipped in 12 points and six rebounds.

Saunders led South with 15 points while Ty Griggs added 13, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. He was responsible for the Packers’ only 3-pointer of the game as they shot 1-of-14 from deep as a team.

The Mustangs will face top-seed Bellevue West on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.


  1Q 2Q 3Q 4Q F
Millard North 20 9 29 22 80
Omaha South 14 18 9 18 59

MN: Hunter Sallis 24, Saint Thomas 19, Jasen Green 12, Jadin Johnson 9, Max Murrell 6, Noah Erickson 5, Tyler Sandoval 2

OS: Jay Saunders 16, Ty Griggs 13, Skyler Wilson 10, RaShawn McNeal-Lee 9, John Forget 8, Zion Bang Hendon 2, Payton Johnson 1

Devaney Center Results


>> No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic 47, No. 4 Yutan 46, 3OT

>> No. 2 BRLD 59, No. 2 Sutton OT

The Crusaders and Wolverines will battle for the C2 title on Saturday at 8:30 p.m.


>> No. 4 Laurel-Concord-Coleridge 65, No. 1 North Platte St. Patrick’s 49

>> No. 6 Southern Valley 47, No. 2 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 39

The Bears and Eagles will square off on Saturday at 9 a.m. for the D1 championship.


>> No. 1 Humphrey St. Francis 74, No. 4 Mullen 35

>> No. 2 Falls City Sacred Heart 63, No. 6 Lincoln Park View

The Flyers will play against the Irish in the D2 title game at 4:30 p.m.

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