The Metro Holiday Tournament rolled on Thursday at the Bellevue West Thunderdome with the semifinal round for both the girls and boys brackets.
Four teams punched their ticket to Monday’s championship games — including a pair of No. 7 seeds.
No. 1 Millard South 84, No. 5 Bellevue East 67
Millard South will look to win its fourth straight Metro Holiday Tournament championship on Monday as the Patriots overcame a slow start to run past the Chieftains in the first game of the day Thursday.
Millard South missed eight of its first nine shots and Bellevue East beat the Patriots down the floor repeatedly for easy buckets as the Chieftains raced out to an 11-4 lead. However, the Patriots quickly righted the ship and controlled the action the rest of the way.
Millard South used a 14-0 run to pull ahead then took a 24-16 lead into the second quarter thanks to 10 first-quarter points from Kent State signee Mya Babbitt and 11 first-quarter Bellevue East turnovers against Millard South’s press.
Babbitt picked up her third foul three minutes in with Millard South still leading by eight, but Khloe Lemon picked up the slack and fueled a 9-4 run with Babbitt on the bench to extend the lead to 13.
The teams traded buckets the rest of the half, with Lemon stealing a bad pass and taking it the length of the court for a tough floater to beat the buzzer and put Millard South up 44-31 at halftime.
Millard South had an answer every time Bellevue East tried to make a run and extended the lead to 19 at 68-49 by the end of the third quarter. The Chieftains continued to hit shots in the fourth but couldn’t get enough stops to get back into the game and truly put pressure on the Patriots.
Babbitt finished with 25 points on 7-of-13 shooting (6-of-12 from 3) and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Omaha signee Cora Olsen went 8-for-9 at the line and put up 21 points, five rebounds and two steals. Lemon scored 17 points with five assists, four rebounds and two steals before leaving the game with a foot/ankle injury.
Lindenwood signee Mya Skoff led Bellevue West with 21 points on 4-of-7 from the filed (1-of-2 from 3) and 12-of-17 from the foul line. Sophomore Rylee McLucas notched a double-double with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting (4-of-7 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the foul line and 15 rebounds.
Both teams put on a shooting display as the Chieftains went 10-for-24 (41.7%) from deep while the Patriots shot 9-of-22 (40.9%). Both teams attempted more than 20 free throws as well. However, Millard South forced 20 turnovers while only turning it over seven times, giving the Patriots a double-digit edge in shots.
No. 7 Bellevue West 67, No. 3 Omaha Central 56
Bellevue West built a double-digit lead in the first half then maintained it throughout the second to advance to the championship game on its home court.
The Eagles — who fell to Millard South in the Metro championship game the last two years — scored the first seven points of the game as junior point guard Inia Jones scored four herself and assisted Liliana Peterson for a triple.
However, the Thunderbirds caught fire midway through the first and ripped off a 21-5 run to take a 21-12 lead early in the second quarter that included five straight 3s — two each from Zhyael Dotzler and Ahnica Russell-Brown and one from Naomi White.
Bellevue West extended its lead to 14 before Central scored the last three points of the half to make the score 32-21 T-Birds at the break. Bellevue West shot 6-of-12 from deep in the first 16 minute to build its lead.
The teams traded mini-runs throughout the third quarter as the gap bounced between seven and 14. The Eagles cut it to 10 at the end of the period, then pulled within nine a few times in the fourth. That’s as close as they got, however, as the Thunderbirds slowed the pace, ran clock and shot 12-of-16 from the free-throw line to secure the victory.
Bellevue West shot 9-of-20 (45%) from 3, all in the first three quarters. White led the way with 17 points and eight rebounds, knocking down all six of her freebies. Russell-Brown added 15 points and four assists. Dotzler finished with 14 points and nine rebounds (four offensive) while shooting 4-of-5 from deep. In Bellevue West’s quarterfinal and semifinal matchups, Dotzler went a combined 9-for-11 from the 3-point line.
Jones did all she could to keep Central in the game, finishing with 30 points while shooting 7-of-8 from the foul line and 3-of-5 from deep, but Bellevue West made life int he lane difficult for her and every other Eagle. Jones added seven rebounds, four assists and two steals to her stat line.
Bellevue West will take on Millard South in the championship gam on Monday at the Thunderdome with tipoff set for 5:30 p.m.
No. 1 Bellevue West 79, No. 4 Omaha Westide 52
The top-seeded Thunderbirds continued to run roughshod through anybody who stands in their way on Thursday, improving to 9-0 with their ninth win by more than 20 points. Bellevue West has outscored its opponents by an average of 33.8 points.
The Thunderbirds doubled up the Warriors in the first quarter, 22-11, then held them to four points in the second to build a 44-15 lead at halftime. Bellevue West shot over 60% from the field.
The Thunderbirds continued to shoot the ball well in the second, extending the lead to 34 with a pick-and-pop 3 from sophomore Robby Garcia at the buzzer, three of his 10 points in the period.
Junior CJ Mitchell came alive in the fourth with 10 of his 12 points, but it was way too little and far too late to impact the outcome as the Thunderbirds shot 10-of-17 (58.8%) from 3 for the game.
Garcia led four Thunderbirds in double figures with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting including a perfect 3-for-3 from deep. Creighton signee Josiah Dotzler wasn’t far behind with 18 points on 6-of-10 from the field (1-of-2 from 3) and 5-of-6 from the line, six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Junior Jaden Jackson added 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting (2-of-3 from deep). Union Eldon Turner chipped in 10 points on 2-of-3 from 3 and 4-of-4 from the line.
Senior Tate Odvody led Westside with 20 points, shooting 8-0f-14 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep.
No. 7 Omaha Creighton Prep 69, No. 3 Millard North 66
Creighton Prep was sitting at three wins heading into the Metro Holiday Tournament as the No. 7 seed. The Junior Jays have now doubled that total after three days of tournament play and will compete for the championship on Monday after winning a second straight instant classic.
Prep opened the game with an 8-0 run and maintained that lead for 30 minutes before the Mustangs rallied to pull ahead with less than two minutes to play. Prep immediately took the lead back on the other end then made a series of big plays down the stretch to finish off the upset.
Senior Joey Rieschl got the Junior Jays off to a great start with two early 3s and Prep jumped ahead by as much as 12 points in the first quarter before taking a 21-11 lead into the second. Rieschl scored nine in the period while fellow senior PJ Newbill added eight.
After falling behind by 12 again, Millard North made a push late in the second quarter to cut the deficit down to four with a three-point play from Derek Rollins, but Emmett Knight found Carson Jones for a 3 at the buzzer to send Prep into the locker room with a 34-27 lead.
The Junior Jays shot 5-for-11 from 3 in the first half while Millard North only hit one triple on 11 attempts.
Creighton Prep pushed the lead back to 10 on a 3-pointer from junior Dillon Claussen before Millard North closed the period with a 7-2 run to cut it to five at 54-49. The Mustangs continued their push into the fourth quarter, pulling within one twice, but the Junior Jays dug in and stretched the lead back to six at 64-58 with a 3 from Knight and a layup from Rieschl.
Rollins put the Mustangs on his back at that point, orchestrating an 8-1 run with five points and an assist to Neal Mosser for a 3 to give Millard North its first and only lead of the game at 66-65 with 1:49 to play.
Newbill, who spent much of the second quarter in foul trouble after his hot start before going to work with four more buckets in the third, took it to the basket and avoided a help defender looking for the charge to finish the go-ahead tough-angle layup. Millard North went back to Rollins in the post, but Claussen drew an offensive foul then took it to the basket on the other end with 40 seconds left, putting Prep up by three.
Prep forced a Millard North turnover with 9.8 to go, but the Junior Jays weren’t able to get the ball in-bounded and turned it right back over. Millard North had one last chance to tie the game up, but Prep again played strong defense and Claussen forced a fadeaway 3 that never had a chance.
Prep followed up an efficient offensive performance against Gretna with an even better one against Millard North, shooting nearly 60% from the field including 8-of-17 from downtown. Newbill went off for a career-high 21 points on 10-for-10 shooting (though he did miss one of his two free throw attempts). Rieschl finished with 17 points on 6-of-12 from the field (4-of-8 from deep) and 1-of-1 from the line. Claussen came alive in the second half after a two-point first, finishing with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and 5-of-6 foul shooting, six rebounds and four assists.
Rollins was a monster on the block all game (when he wasn’t on the bench in foul trouble), dropping 26 points on 10-of-18 from the field and 5-of-7 from the line and 10 rebounds (six offensive), but he was the only Mustang in double figures.
Creighton Prep will take on Bellevue West at 7:15 p.m on Monday in the Thunderdome.
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.