Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

2022-23 Metro Holiday Tournament Quarterfinals Roundup

December 30, 2022

The Bellevue West Thunderdome is the primary host for this year’s Metro Holiday Tournament with a full day of girls and boys quarterfinals on Friday.

Jacob Padilla posted up court-side all day to cover the games and highlight som of the best high school hoops talent in the Metro.

GIRLS QUARTERFINALS

No. 5 Bellevue East 59, No. 4 Millard West 56

Bellevue East opened up a double-digit lead in the first half thanks to hot perimeter shooting and aggressive defense and then survived a fourth-quarter Chieftain rally to advance to the quarterfinals.

Sophomore Jayla Wilson fueled a big second-quarter run with steals and buckets. The Wildcats pulled within nine at halftime thanks to a dip 3 from Neleigh Gessert a the buzzer, but the Chieftains extend the lead to 15 in the third quarter.

Then Millard West switched to a zone, a risky strategy because the Chieftains had hit seven of their first 13 3-pointers. It paid off as the Wildcats managed to whittle away at the deficit, cutting it all the way down to two with two minutes to play.

Both teams missed looks at the basket in the final stretch before Mya Skoff put Bellevue East up four with a pair of fire throws. Norah Dessert answered with a three-point play with 4.4 left to cut it to one then the Wildcats fouled Skoff, who split her free throws. Millard West called timeout with 3.2 left and tried to pass it deep, but Wilson broke it up and Skoff secured it, adding one more free throw to create the final margin.

Wilson led everyone with 23 pants on 8-of-16 from the field (3-of-7 from 3) and 4-of-5 from the foul line, six steals and four rebounds. Skoff added 20 points, matching Wilson’s 3-for-7 from deep and four rebounds.

Neleigh Gessert had a double-double for the Wildcats with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Norah Gessert added 12 points and six boards. Addie Klahn scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting (2-of-2 from 3) and three assists off the bench.

No. 1 Millards South 69, No. 8 Gretna 49

The top-seeded Patriots blew the game open with an 18-2 run spanning the second and third quarters fueled by their stifling full-court press and half court trapping zone. Millard South forced 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone and 25 in the game.

Mya Babbitt, the senior Kent State signee who became Millard South’s all-time leading scorer in the Patriots’ first-round win over Omaha Westview, went 4-for-6 from deep in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points, shooting 6-of-13 from downtown overall while grabbing five rebounds and five steals.

Omaha commit Cora Olsen scored 16 points on 4-of-6 from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line with five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Senior Khloe Lemon chipped in 15 points.

Juniors Brooke Rose and Emma Martin led the Dragons with 11 points apiece while Rose grabbed six rebounds including five on the offensive end.

The Patriots will face Bellevue East in the semifinals on Saturday at 10:15 a.m.

No. 3 Omaha Central 64, No. 11 Omaha Marian 58

The game wasn’t as close as the final margin would indicate as the Eagles led by 15 at halftime then poured in 21 points in the third to take a 54-31 lead heading into the fourth. The Crusaders put up 27 points in the fourth with Central looking to run out the clock and get reserves playing time more than extend the lead.

Sophomore Pierre-Noelle Tchehchoua led the Eagles with 15 points on 5-of-8 from the field (1-of-2 from 3) and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line and six rebounds. Junior Inia Jones put up 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting, seven assists, four rebounds and there steals. Paris Devers chipped in 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting including 2-of-3 from deep.

Freshman Paige Miller came alive late to lead Marian with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting (2of-2 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the line plus seven rebounds. Senior Ashley Wilwerding added 16 points on 4-of-7 from the field (2-of-2 from 3) and 6-of-10 from the foul line and seven rebound (four offensive).

No. 7 Bellevue West 64, No. 2 Millard North 60

The Thunderbirds built a 20-point lead in the first half then survived a late Millard North rally to punch their ticket to the semifinals.

The home team hit the Mustangs with a 9-3 run to open the game and continued to pour it on from there as Zyhael Dotzler rained 3s from the left corner and the duo of Ahnica Russell-Brown and Naomi White got to the rim at will. Bellevue West built up a 20-point lead midway through the second before taking a 42-27 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Thunderbirds shot 60% from the field in the first half.

Millard North picked it up on both ends in the third quarter, cutting the deficit all the way down to seven at one point. The Thunderbirds stretched it back to nine at 54-45 at the end of the period, but Millard North kept pushing in the fourth.

Millard North cut it to seven again midway through the period, then used a 6-0 run including a Mya Sohl three-point play to make it a one-possession game with 29.2 to play. Kenzie Melcher hit two free throws to end the run, but Sohl scored again to make it 62-60 with 8.1 to go.

Millard North fouled White, who had missed two front ends in the bonus already in the fourth, and the junior stepped to the line with 6.9 on the clock and knocked down both shots to seal the victory.

Dotzler led the Thunderbirds with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting including 5-of-6 from 3, six steals, four rebounds and two blocks. White added 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals. Russell-Brown chipped in 14 points and four assists, shooting 7-of-8 from the charity stripe.

Sophomore Addelyn Rooney led the Mustangs with 17 points off the bench including 13 in the second half to key the comeback. Sh shot 6-of-9 from th field (3-of-5 from 3) and 2-of-4 from the line. Sophomore forward Avril Smith put up 15 points and seven rebounds before fouling out. Sohl finished with 13 points.

Bellevue West will take on Omaha Central in Saturday’s semifinals at noon.

BOYS QUARTERFINALS

No. 1 Bellevue West 98, No. 8 Elkhorn South 61

The top-seeded Thunderbirds had far too much firepower for the Storm on Friday.

Bellevue West led by 16 at the end of the first quarter and by 29 at halftime and nearly cracked triple digits with 28 in the fourth as the team’s reserves got in the mix as well.

Junior Jaden Jackson led Bellevue West with 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting (4-of-6 from 3) and 1-of-1 from the line with three steals. Sophomore Robby Garcia finished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and four rebounds. Creighton signee Josiah Dotzler put up 15 points on 5-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line with Sven rebounds and five assists. Junior Jacob Arop chipped in 12 points on 100% shooting (5-of-5 from the field, 2-of-2 from the line), and six rebounds off the bench.

Alec Noonan, the twin brother of Nebraska football commit Maverick Noonan and a Midland signee, put on a show for the Storm faithful, finishing with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-15 from the field, 4-of-7 from 3 and 4-of-7 from the foul line. He’s top 20 points in five of his eight games so far this season.

No. 4 Omaha Westside 49, No. 5 Papillion-La Vista South 42

Points were hard to come by in the second quarterfinal, but in the end the Warriors found a few more buckets down the stretch to punch their ticket to the semis. 

Westside led 10-5 after one and 23-14 at halftime before the Titans rallied to take the lead early in the fourth quarter as sophomore Bryson Bahl put the team on his back. He scored 16 of Papio South’s first 20 points in the second half to give the Titans a 34-33 less than two minutes into the fourth.

Kevin Stubblefield took the lead right back with a 3-pointer, however, which sparked a 13-3 Warrior run to seal the game. Stubblefield had two more buckets down the stretch and made a couple of incredible hustle plays as well to get extra possessions for his team.

The 6-foot-4 junior was the only Warrior in double figures, finishing with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting and a game-high 14 rebounds (four offensive).

Bahl finished with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting, scoring 21 of Papio South’s 28 second-half points after a quiet first two quarters.

Omaha Westside will take on the top-seeded Thunderbirds on their home court in Saturday’s semifinal set for 1:45 p.m.

No. 3 Millard North 59, No. 11 Omaha Bryan 47

The Mustangs used a strong defensive effort to earn a spot in the semifinals, holding the Bears under 38% from the field and forcing 17 turnovers.

Millard North jumped out to an 11-2 lead early thanks to back-to-back 3s from junior Elijah Gaeth and Bryan had to play catch-up the rest of the way. Millard North led 17-8 after one and 25-16 at halftime before stretching the lead out to 14 at one point in the third.

Bryan stopped the bleeding and began chapping away at the lead, pulling within six after five straight points from senior Elijah McCullough. Millard North took a 42-34 edge into the fourth quarter, but sophomore Amir Martin scored five quick points in the fourth to pull Bryan within five at 44-39.

Senior Skylen Williams answered Martin’s buckets with one of his own, a jumper from the free-throw line that sparked an 11-0 Mustang run to slam the door shut on the Bears’ comeback attempt.

Williams finished with 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting including a pair of 3s. Gaeth matched him with 14 points and corralled a game-high nine rebounds as well. Junior Neal Mosser went 4-for-6 from deep for 12 points while also chipping in five boards and three assists. Sophomore Derek Rollins added 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 9-for-10 from the charity stripe.

Sophomore A’mare Bynum was the only Bear in double figures with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds.

No. 7 Omaha Creighton Prep 62, No. 2 Gretna 61

The quarterfinals saved the best for last as the nightcap went right down to the final second with plenty of standout performances along the way. However, when the buzzer sounded it was the underdog who stood victorious, avenging a loss from earlier in the month and giving Metro fans the second seven-over-two upset of the day.

The Junior Jays lit up the scoreboard from the opening tip, hitting seven of their first nine shots including four 3-pointers. Prep took a 20-10 lead into the second quarter before the Dragons turned the tables, outscoring the Junior Jays 21-9 behind six-point quarters from both Landon Pokorski and Alec Wilkins to talk a 31-29 lead at halftime.

Gretna scored the first six points of the third quarter including two more layups from Wilkins to open up an eight-point lead, but Prep responded with a 13-4 run including three triples from junior Carson Jones to pul ahead once again.

The lead changed hands a couple more times before Pokorski drew a foul on a 3-pointer and hit all three free throws to put Gretna up 46-44 heading into the fourth. The teams went back and forth in the final period as Jones gave Prep the lead again with another 3, Gretna tied it up and junior Marquis Toliver earned two trips to the foul line and hit three of the four shots to give the Junior Jays a three-point advantage with less than two to play.

Wilkins spun his way to the basket for the finger roll, Toliver buried a 3 from the left wing late in the shot clock then Pokorski answered with a deep trey of his own to cut it back to one with 37.3 on the clock. Prep had a chance to run down the clock and add to its lead, but Toliver slipped and went down awkwardly, turning the ball over as Alex Wilcoxson dove on it and called timeout with 29 seconds left.

Gretna missed its initial attempt to take the lead but got the ball back and had a pass tipped out of bounds with 11.2 to play. Pokorski in-bounded to Wilcoxson along the baseline then followed, but Wilcoxson faked the handoff and gained a step on his man, Prep’s 6-foot-6 sophomore, Trinell Parker. Wilcoxson rose up for the go-ahead layup but Parker recovered in time to block the shot from behind.

Gretna had one last shot after a missed front end in the bonus from Prep, in-bounding the ball from near half court with 2.1 on the clock, but the pass nearly took Pokorski out of bounds along the sideline and he just had to heave the ball towards the basket as time expired.

Junior forward Dillon Claussen led the Juniors Jays with 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Ones scored 12 points on 4-of-7 from deep. Joey Rieschl had the hot hand early and finished with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting (3-of-6 from 3) while Toliver added 11 points on 3-of-6 from the field (2-of-4 from 3) and 3-of-4 from the foul line and three assists before leaving the game with the injury late. Parker chipped in eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, five rebounds and three blocks off the bench. Prep shot over 50% from the field and over 40% from 3.

Pokorski led all scorers with 19 points plus seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Wilkins wasn’t far behind with 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Wilcoxson added 14 points and three steals while shooting 3-of-7 from deep.

Creighton Prep will face Millard North in the final semifinal of the day on Saturday set for 3:30 p.m.

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