The Nebraska boys state basketball tournament tipped off on Tuesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena and Hail Varsity has you covered with rolling updates throughout the day.
No. 1 Norris 62, No. 8 Blair 46
The top-seeded Norris Titans built up a big lead early and held on throughout the game thanks to a strong defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack.
Senior Brayson Mueller led Norris with 18 points and seven rebounds. Senior forward Trey Deveaux made plays in the middle of Blair’s zone, doing a bit of everything with 13 points on 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line, nine rebounds and four assists. Senior Cade Rice scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, shooting 3-of-4 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Norris held Blair without a field goal until the 1:40 mark of the first quarter, jumping out to an 11-1 start. The Titans led 16-5 at the end of the first period and extended that lead to 16-5 at the end of the first.
Norris continued to control the action throughout the first half until Blair finally settled in, closing the second quarter on a 10-2 run to make it 30-20 Norris at halftime. The Titans held the Bears to 30.8% shooting including 6-of-22 inside the arc as Blair struggled to finish against Norris’ length.
Blair made another push in the third quarter, cutting the deficit down to six. Nebraska baseball commit C.J. Hood answered with a 3-pointer and Norris coach Jimmy Motz called a timeout as the ball went through the net.
Out of the timeout, Luke Ladwig hit a 3 for Blair to cut it to six again. After trading buckets, Norris ran the clock down under 10 seconds and Brayson Mueller stepped out against Blair’s zone and knocked down a 3 to give Norris a 45-32 lead heading into the fourth.
Norris scored the first six points of the fourth to stretch the lead to 19 and 12 was as close as Blair could get the rest of the way. Norris went 9-for-9 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter (and13-of-14 overall) to seal it.
N: Brayson Mueller 18, Trey Deveaux 13, Cade Rice 10, CJ Hood 8, Dane Small 7, Izaiah Pankoke-Johnson 6
B: Luke Ladwig 13, Jacob Czapla 12, Kip Tupa 8, Caden Ulven 7, Sawyer Lawton 2, Wyatt Ogle 2, Nolan Ulrich 2
No. 5 Elkhorn 63, No. 4 Platteview 48
Elkhorn shot 60% from the field and 100% at the free-throw line in the second half to pull away from Platteview and take the rubber match with the Trojans.
Platteview had no answer for Elkhorn’s post-centered offense as Nebraska baseball commit Drew Christo and junior Dane Petersen combined for 36 points on 76.1% shooting. Elkhorn won in overtime at Platteview early in the season, and the Trojans returned the favor later on to split their regular season meetings.
Elkhorn took a 10-6 lead after one as the Trojans missed all eight of their 3-point attempts (though Elkhorn wasn’t any better at 0-of-6). Platteview got hot in the second, though, opening the quarter on a 9-4 run with a pair of 3s by Alex Draper and one by Connor Millikan.
The lead exchanged hands a couple times until Elkhorn put together an 8-2 run to pull head 24-19. Millikan went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe to narrow the gap, but another Nebraska baseball commit, Kyler Randazzo, got a steal and score to put the Antlers up four at halftime.
Elkhorn opened it up in the third quarter with a 9-3 start to the period. Senior Colton Uhing pushed the lead to 11 with a four-point play and the Antlers took a 43-34 lead into the fourth.
Millikan did his best to lead the Trojans back with 12 points in the fourth, but Platteview couldn’t get stops as Elkhorn extended the lead out to 15, and that’s where the final margin settled.
Christo led the Antlers with 19 points on 7-of-10 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line, seven rebounds and four assists. Peterson scored 17 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed six boards including four not he offensive end. Senior Gannon Gragert chipped in 11 points, shooting 3-of-7 from deep.
Millikan, one of the most prolific players in the state and just a sophomore, finished with 25 points on 9-of-19 from the field 3-of-8 from 3) and 4-of-7 from the free-throw line, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Draper chipped in 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting including 3-of-6 from deep.
P: Connor Millikan 25, Alex Draper 11, Tyler Riley 8, Ezra Stewart 2, Michael Wiebelhaus 2
E: Drew Christo 19, Dane Petersen 18, Gannon Gragert 11, Colton Uhing 9, Kyler Randazzo 4, Caden Reynolds 2
No. 1 Millard North 73, No. 8 Millard South 46
The eight-seeded Patriots held a lead over the No. 1 Mustangs at the end of the first quarter, But Millard North turned it on in the second quarter and ran away from Millard South in the second half to punch its ticket to the semifinals.
Millard South had no answer for Millard North 5-star guard Hunter Sallis as the senior put up 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 from 3) and 3-of-4 from the foul line.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 13-7 lead with Sallis scoring seven of the 13. Then Millard South freshman Will Cooper checked in and breathed some life into the Patriots, knocking down three quacks jumpers for a personal 8-2 run to tie it up. Brock Murtaugh gave the Patriots the lead, Saint Thomas answered with a jumper and then Blake Stenger set up Lance Rucker for a layup at the buzzer to make it 19-17 Millard South.
Sallis hit a couple of 3s early in the second quarter to give Millard North the lead, then the Mustangs stretched it out with an 11-0 run capped by another bucket by Sallis. Jack Cooper need the run with a three-point play, but Millard North took a 31-24 lead into halftime.
The second half belonged to the Mustangs, however, as they outscored the Patriots by 20 and steadily expanded the lead throughout the half. Both teams sent their subs in just past the three-minute mark of the fourth to close out the game.
Jasen Green, a 2022 Nebraska target, scored all 13 of his points in the second half, shooting 4-of-7 from both the field and the free-throw line. Thomas added 12 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Jack Cooper, Will Cooper, Blake Stenger and Michael Harding scored eight points apiece for the Patriots. Millard North forced 16 Millard South turnovers and held the patriots to 2-of-7 from deep.
Millard North: 17-14-19-23—73
Millard South: 19- 5-10-12—46
MN: Hunter Sallis 24, Saint Thomas 12, Jasen Green 12, Jadin Johnson 8, Tyler Sandoval 8, Colin Monie 5, Braxton Wolfe 4
MS: Michael Harding 8, Jack Cooper 8, Will Cooper 8, Blake Stenger 8, Gage Stenger 4, Lance Rucker 2, Brock Murtaugh 2, Maal Jal 2, Jackson Crain 2
No. 5 Millard West 47, No. 4 Lincoln Pius X 45
Evan Meyersick had to watch from home as his teammates competed in districts for a chance to go to state. The Wildcats took care of business even without their leading scorer, and on Tuesday, Meyersick made up for lost time with some late heroics.
After Sam Hoiberg hit a 3 to tie the game with 3.8 to go, Millard West called timeout and coach Bill Morrison drew up a play. James Conway took the ball out and chucked it down court to Meyersick, a Nebraska football preferred walk-on tight end commit, near the free-throw line. He came down with the ball, turned and got downhill, losing his balance but laying it up off the glass as the buzzer sounded.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) March 9, 2021
“I lost my balance once I shot it and I looked back up and saw it go through the net and heard everybody scream,” Meyersick said.
Meyersick tested positive for COVID-19 before district play and although he didn’t exhibit any symptoms, he still had to miss a couple of weeks. He scored just two points in the first three quarters on 1-of-3 shooting, and he turned the ball over five times in the game.However, he stepped up late and made all three of his shots for six points in the fourth, including the game-winner.
“It was exciting,” Meyersick said. “I think people could kind of tell it’s pretty obvious I hadn’t played in two weeks after that performance, but I trusted in myself and couldn’t let the team down.”
Millard West led 10-6 after a sluggish first quarter. The Thunderbolts scored the first four points of the second quarter to tie it up, but the Wildcats responded with a 12-2 run to open up a 10-point advantage. Sam Hoiberg knocked down an NBA 3 to end the run and Millard West took that 22-15 lead into halftime.
Ryan Larsen got hot and scored Millard West’s first eight points of the third quarter to help the Wildcats maintain their lead as Pius was only Abel to shave one point off the deficit by the end of the period.
The Hoiberg twins each hit a 3 early in the fourth to cut the deficit down to two. Millard West stretched it back to six but the Thunderbolts kept chipping away at it as Millard West shot 3-of-6 form the foul line in the fourth with a couple of missed front-ends in the bonus. After the last empty trip at the line left Millard West leading by two, Sam Hoiberg ran a give-and-go with his brother, getting the ball back at the rim for a layup attempt that would have tied it. Meyersick rotated over and spiked the shot off the backboard to maintain the Wildcat lead.
“We all thought they were going to go for a 3 or something, then I saw him cut,” Meyersick said. “I don’t show off my athleticism that much, but I saw he was going up for a layup and so I just tried the best I could to not foul him and to make sure I didn’t goal-tend.”
James Conway corralled the rebound and split a pair of free throws with 14.4 on the clock, putting Millard West up by three. Hoiberg hit the 3 for the tie, but Meyersick’s layup ended the comeback attempt.
Larsen led all scorers with 17 points on 6-of-9 from the field, 3-of-5 from 2 and 2-of-2 from the line. Conway added 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Sam and Charlie Hoiberg led Pius with 10 points apiece and combined for six steals. Brady Christiansen added eight points and 11 rebounds.
West will face North in an all-Millard semifinal on Friday at 6:15 p.m.
LIncoln Pius X: 6- 9-14-16—45
Millard West: 10-12-13-12—47
LPX: Sam Hoiberg 10, Charlie Hoiberg 10, Brady Christiansen 8, Sam Hastreiter 6, Sam Easley 4, Luke Taubenheim 2, Thomas Linderman 2
MW: Ryan Larsen 17, James Conway 10, Evan Meyersick 8, Dominic Humm 8, Chase Hultman 2
No. 2 Bellevue West 55, No. 7 Lincoln East 47
The reining champions didn’t exactly look sharp on Tuesday, but they did enough to get past Lincoln East and head back to the semifinals.
Omaha signee Frankie Fidler scored a game-high 22 points on 7-of-13 from the field (2-of-5 from 3) and 6-of-9 from the foul line. However, the rest of the Thunderbirds shot 0-of-10 from deep. Wisconsin signee Chucky Hepburn scored just five points and dished out five assists.
Bellevue West got off to a slow start as the Thunderbirds were settling for tough shots on offense that weren’t falling. East led 7-4 after an Oliver Edwards 3, but Bellevue West got a couple of buckets late to pull ahead 10-9 at the end of the first.
Bellevue West focused more on getting to the rim in the second quarter out ripped off a 16-3 run to open up a 14-point lead, and the Thunderbirds took a 28-16 lead into halftime. Bellevue West shot 100% inside the arc with four buckets from sophomore guard Josiah Dotzler.
Joe Marfisi tried to get the Spartans back in the game, scoring nine points in the third quarter, but Omaha signee Frankie Fidler scored eight himself to maintain West’s lead. The Spartans cut the deficit down to six before the Thunderbirds stretched it back out to 13 at the end of the quarter.
Bellevue West shot 1-of-5 from 3 and 2-of-7 from the free-throw line in the fourth which allowed East to make a push, but the Spartans ran out of time.
Junior Brayden McPhail led East with 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Senior point guard Carter Glenn, who averaged just under 20 points this season, finished with nine while dealing with significant foul trouble throughout the game.
Bellevue West: 10-18-14-13—55
Lincoln East: 9- 7-13-18—47
BW: Frankie Fidler 22, Greg Brown 12, Josiah Dotzler 10, Chucky Hepburn 5, William Kyle III 4, Jaxon Stueve 2
LE: Brayden McPhail 17, Carter Glenn 9, Joe Marfisi 9, Trevor Henrickson 6, Oliver Edwards 6
No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep 64, No. 6 Papillion-La Vista South 56
Creighton Prep survived an onslaught of 3-pointers from the Titans and pulled away in the fourth quarter to advance to the semifinals.
Papillion-La Vista South shot a blistering 12-of-20 from 3, but Prep’s balance won out as five Junior Jays scored in double figures.
Papio South senior Graham Cassoutt put the Titans on his back early, hitting his first four shots including a pair of 3s to boost South to a 10-5 lead. Prep rallied to tie it up, however, and the sides went back and forth from there.
Papio South led by two at the end of the first quarter then pushed that lead back to five. However, junior guard Casey O’Malley provided a spark off the bench. He scored Prep’s first five points, then orchestrated a five-point possession that tied it up at 27-all. He fed AJ Rollins for a bucket plus a foul. Rollins missed the free throw but Prep got the rebound. Rollins tried to score again, missed, rebounded it again and kicked it out to O’Malley who hit a 3.
Senior Mai’Jhe Wiley converted a layup to give Prep the lead, then O’Malley hit another triple. However, Papio South senior Josiah Beckenhauer hit a step-back to end Prep’s 10-0 run and make it a two-point game at halftime.
Ppio South pulled ahead 40-39 midway through the third quarter, but Creighton Prep answered with a 7-0 run. Cassoutt ended the run with a 3, but Justin Sitti closed out the quarter with a steal and score to put Prep up 48-43 heading into the fourth.
The Titans continued to hit 3s in the fourth quarter, closing the gap down to one on another step-back triple by Beckenhauer, but Prep fended off the comeback attempt with a 7-0 run consisting of a 3 by Wiley, a bucket inside from Rollins on a zone-busting play and a steal and slam from Sitti.
Senior Both Dol gave Papio South one last chance, knocking down a 3 to end the Prep run with just over two minutes to play then getting the Titans another possession with a steal. However, Daniel Brocaille misfired on a 3 and Prep hit enough free throws to seal the game.
Cassoutt led the Titans with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (4-of-6 from 3). Brocaille added 16 points.
Wiley scored seven of his team high 14 points in the fourth for Prep, shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from 3. O’Malley added 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (3-of-5 from deep). Sitti scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting and grabbed five steals. Rollins, the Nebraska football commit, finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Senior Brendan Buckley added 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting and five steals.
Prep will face Bellevue West in Friday’s semifinal slated for 8:30 p.m. The Thunderbirds won both regular season meetings, though both were close, competitive games including one that went to overtime.
Omaha Creighton Prep: 17-15-16-16—64
Papillion-La Vista South: 19-11-13-13—56
OCP: Mai’Jhe Wiley 14, Casey O’Malley 13, Justin Sitti 11, Brendan Buckley 10, AJ Rollins 10, Luke Jungers 6
PLVS: Graham Cassoutt 18, Daniel Brocaille 16, Josiah Beckenhauer 9, Both Dol 6, Mason Burger 5, Jackson Trout 2
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.