The Metro Holiday Tournament rolled on at Baxter Arena on Wednesday with the girls and boys semifinals plus consolation play.
Jacob Padilla posted up court side to bring you a recap of all the action.
No. 1 Millard South 58, No. 5 Bellevue East 54
The Chieftains gave the reigning tournament champion Patriots everything they could handle, but Millard South held off a late rally and made enough plays down the stretch to pull out a win and advance to the title game.
Bellevue East jumped out to an 11-4 start and took a 19-11 lead early in the second quarter, but a 9-0 run features 3s from Mya Babbitt, Megan Belt and Juliana Jones gave the Patriots the lead at 20-19, and they took a 26-25 edge into the locker room at halftime.
Bellevue East tied it up multiple times in the third, but a 15-7 spanning the third and fourth quarters put Millard South back in control at 51-43. The Chieftains kept battling, cutting it to two a couple of times in the last 70 seconds, but Jones and Belt each hit a pair of free throws down the stretch to seal it.
Babbitt led the Patriots with 16 points, four rebounds and three steals. Belt added 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting (2-of-5 from deep) 2-of-2 from line plus six rebounds. Khloe Lemon and Jones chipped in 10 points apiece with Lemon pulling down seven boards.
Riley Jensen led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-13 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line. Mya Skoff added 16 points.
No. 1 Millard South: 11-15-17-15 — 58
No. 5 Bellevue East: 15-10-15-14 — 54
MS: Mya Babbitt 16, Megan Belt 12, Khloe Lemon 10, Juliana Jones 10, Lexi Finkenbiner 5, Miranda Kelly 5
BE: Riley Jensen 21, Mya Skoff 16, Bayley Egan 8, Caitlyn Conover 3, Mackenzie Reimer 3, RyLee Lucas 3
No. 2 Omaha Central 68, No. 6 Millard North 53
The Mustangs made furious second-half rally to turn a blowout into a close game, but the comeback ran out of steam and Central pulled away late to punch its ticket to the final.
Central closed the first quarter on a big run to take a 25-12 lead, and they led by double digits throughout the first half as Northern Colorado commit Aniah Wayne went off for 17 points. The Eagles took a 46-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Then the Mustangs stepped it up defensively and clawed their way back into the game. The Eagles missed 11 of their first 12 shots as Millard North whittled the lead all the way down to four at 58-54. Freshman Avril Smith sparked the comeback with six points and an assist in the quarter while Megan Chambers scored seven herself.
Webb beat the buzzer with a tough layup to make it 50-44 heading into the fourth and the Eagles opened the final period with back-to-back buckets to create some breathing room again, and the Mustangs ran out of gas. Central shot 6-of-7 from the field and 5-of-9 from the foul line while holding the Mustangs to 3-of-12 shooting to push the lead back to double digits.
Webb led the way with 20 points, five steals and four assists. Wayne didn’t score in the second half to finish with 17 points, five boards and three steals. Sophomore point guard Inia Jones finished with 12 points on 2-of-4 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) and 7-of-11 from the foul line, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Texas A&M volleyball commit Ital Lopuyo added 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, 13 rebounds (four offensive) and three bocks.
Chambers led the Mustangs with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting (2-of-5 from 3) and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.
The Eagles will take on the top-seeded Patriots in the final on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
No. 2 Omaha Central: 25-21- 4-18 — 68
No. 6 Millard North: 12-17-15- 9 — 53
OC: Aaniya Webb 20, Aniah Wayne 17, Ital Lopuyo 12, Inia Jones 12, Claire Williams 7
MN: Megan Chambers 17, Sam Harley 9, Avril Smith 8, Ellie McCarville 7, Darian Winkelbauer 5, Kayla Preston 3, Ally Stalzer 2, Callie Ott 1, Abby Spidle 1
>> Papillion-La Vista 70, Omaha North 21: Taliyah Jackson, Caitlyn Ryan, and Rease Murtaugh scored 10 points apiece for the Monarchs.
>> Papillion-La Vista South 39, Elkhorn South 30: Taylor Mauch led the Titans with 16 points.
No. 1 Bellevue West 72, No. 5 Omaha Central 69
The stars showed up for both teams as Josiah Dotzler, William Kyle III, Jay Dawson and PJ Davis combined for 90 points and a bevy of highlight-reel plays.
Three quick 3-pointers from Dawson, a Loyola-Chicago commit, got the Eagles out to a quick start, but Dotzler, a Division I prospect in the 2023 class, scored 10 points of his own in the first quarter to keep the Thunderbirds within striking distance.
Central led 24-19 after one thanks to a jumper from Davis just before the buzzer, but Bellevue West copped away at the deficit until Dotzler stole the ball and lobbed it off the glass to Kyle, a South Dakota State pledge, for a go-ahead slam. The lead changed hands a few times until Central created some distance with an 8-0 run including a couple of buckets from Davis.
Senior Evan Inselman beat the buzzer with a put-back to cut Central’s lead to 43-38 at halftime, and the Thunderbirds put together a pair of 6-0 runs to take a 55-51 lead into the fourth quarter.
The teams traded buckets until a 3-pointer from Davis pulled the Eagles within one at 61-60. Then Dotzler took over with back-to-back buckets at the rim, including an and-one. A free throw from Kyle pushed the lead to seven, but Davis hit another triple to make it a two-possession game again.
TK Barnett scored at the rim then Kyle blocked Quinton Butts’ shot right back to him, and the senior kicked the ball out to Christion McCants — who had just checked in for the first time — for a 3-pointers to make it cone-score game at 69-63.
Central forced Bellevue West into a turnover but couldn’t capitalize as its 3-pointer didn’t fall. The Thunderbirds hit enough free throws to seal the victory, and a Central 3 at the buzzer made the final margin look a bit closer.
Dotzler led everyone with 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. Kyle added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
Davis scored a career-high 25 points on 10-of-19 from the field and 3-of-3 from the line. Dawson added 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
No. 1 Bellevue West: 19-19-17-17 — 72
No. 5 Omaha Central: 24-19- 8-18 — 69
BW: Josiah Dotzler 27, William Kyle III 18, John Mitchell 9, Jaxon Stueve 6, TK Barnett 5, Jaden Jackson 3, Evan Inselman 2, Jadyn Cascio Jensen 2
OC: PJ Davis 25, Jay Dawson 20, DeOmbre Brodie 7, Keah Paljor 7, J’Dyn Bullion 4, Awit Mamer 3, Christion McCants 3
No. 3 Omaha Westside 74, No. 2 Millard North 61
The Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter to hand the Mustangs their first loss of the season and even the series at one game apiece.
Westside got off to a good start, jumping ahead 9-4 out of the gates, but Millard North settled in and rattled off a 17-3 run to close out the quarter fueled by Warrior turnovers. The Mustangs easily could have ran away with it at that point, but senior Chandler Meeks had other plans. He scored 10 points in the quarter to bring Westside within one at halftime, 34-33.
Meeks opened the second half with a pull-up jumper to give the Warriors the lead, and the two side went back and forth throughout the period. Sophomore point guard CJ Mitchell beat the shot clock buzzer with a couple seconds left in the third for a tough layup to tie it up at 47-all heading into the fourth.
After five lead changes to start the fourth quarter, senior forward Logan Wilson knocked down a 3 and then Reggie Thomas stole the ball and passed it ahead to Mitchell for a layup, the first back-to-back scores of the period. Westside stretched its lead to seven with less than three minutes to play.
Creighton signee Jasen Green made some spectacular plays late to try to get the Warriors back in the game with a block, a 3 and a tip-in, but the Warriors hit just enough of their free throws and made a couple other offensive plays to maintain the lead and then stretch it out as things unraveled for Millard North.
Trailing 64-59 with 1:19 to play, Millard North missed a 3 and then fouled Mitchell with 61 seconds to play. He made the first then put the second way short. The Mustangs thought it was an air-ball but the officials determined it had clipped the rim. Thomas rebounded it then found Tate Odvody in the corner for a 3 to seal the victory.
David Harmon lit the Warriors up in their first meeting with 24 points, but Westside’s defensive adjustments for round two limited him to four points and five assists and the Mustangs couldn’t find enough offense from the rest of the backcourt to keep up with the Warriors who shot 55% from the field. After seven turnovers in the first quarter, the Warriors turned it over just four times in the last three periods.
Odvody led the Warriors with 22 points on 8-of-13 from the filed (2-of-3 from 3) and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line. Meeks finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-6 from the line. Mitchell added 1 points and five boards off the bench.
Green finished with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-15 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line, 13 rebounds (four offensive), five blocks and two steals. Nick Dolezal added 13 points and seven rebounds.
Westside moves on to the championship to face the top-seeded Thunderbirds on Friday at 5:15 p.m.
No. 2 Millard North: 21-13-13-14 — 61
No. 3 Omaha Westside: 12-21-14-27 — 74
MN: Jasen Green 26, Nick Dolezal 13, Elijah Gaeth 7, Neal Mosser 6, Isaiah McMorris 5, David Harmon 4
OW: Tate Odvody 22, Chandler Meeks 17, CJ Mitchell 14, Reggie Thomas 5, Charlie Davis 5, Logan Wilson 4, Caleb Benning 2
>> No. 8 Omaha South 70, No. 16 Omaha Burke 27: The Packers forced 18 first-half turnovers and held the Bulldogs to six total points on 1-of-22 shooting in the middle two quarters to trigger a running clock in the final minute of the third quarter. DonTryl Nunn-Love, Isaiah Jackson, Aric Thomas and T’Andre Perkins scored 12 apiece to lead the Packers, and Perkins added nine boards five blocks, three assists and two steals to his line.
>> No. 12 Papillion-La Vista South 52, No. 13 Millard West 31: The Titans held the Wildcats to 20% from the field to cruise to the 21-point victory. Daniel Brocaille led Papio South with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Trace Thaden had a double-double of his own for the Wildcats with 15 points and 10 boards.
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.