Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

2022 Nebraska State Basketball Tournament Roundup: Championship Friday Session Two

March 11, 2022

The Nebraska boys and girls state championship games rolled on at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday.

Champions cut down the nets in D1 (boys), C1 (girls) and B (boys) in the first session.

The second session includes the championship games for Class C2 boys, Class A girls and Class D2 girls.

C2 BOYS: No. 3 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 43, No. 4 Grand Island Central Catholic 42, OT

Higher class? No problem.

Humphrey Lindsay/Holy Family dethroned the reigning C2 champions in overtime on Friday for their third state title in four years. The Bulldogs won the D1 title in 2019 and 2021 before moving up to C2 this season.

The win was the 100th in 116 career games for this Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family senior class led by 6-foot-5 twin brothers Jacob and Jason Sjuts. The Bulldogs went 28-1 this season.

Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family senior Jason Sjuts (22) and Grand Island Central Catholic senior Alex King (25) spring after a loose ball in the Class C2 state championship game. Photo by John S. Peterson.

“It’s incredible,” Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family coach Joe Hesse said. “Those guys have been around a lot of winning, and then you think about Jason and Jacob being on the floor for most of those 100 … it’s incredible. We’ve had so much success and these guys have been right in the middle of all of it; incredible achievement.”

Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family benefitted from two missed Grand Island Central Catholic free throws at the end of regulation and a missed shot at the buzzer but the Bulldogs made enough plays to pull out the victory.

Jacob and Jason Sjuts finished with 16 points apiece for the Bulldogs while Ethan Keller pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. The Bulldogs shot just 34.2% inside the arc including 0-for-3 from deep but made up for it by going 17-for-22 at the free-throw line.

Senior Marcus Lowry led the Crusaders with 26 points on 10-of-14 shooing (3-of-5 from 3) and 3-of-6 from the foul line plus nine rebounds. Gil Jengmer, a 6-foot-8 senior, added 12 points and three blocks. However, Isaac Herbek, the team’s leading scorer this season, dealt with foul trouble ballgame and finished with just two points. The Crusaders shot 51.6% from the field but missed 10 of their 17 free throws and turned the ball over 16 times.

“That Marcus Lowry, we put a box-and-one on him pretty early, maybe end of the second quarter and then a lot of the second half … 26 with a box-and-one? That was that was incredible,” Hesse said. “But if we could slow one of him or Herbek down — we made Marcus work pretty hard for those and sometimes that box-and-one, we weren’t putting extra pressure on Isaac but we had four guys with eyes and Isaac all the time, and we didn’t even let him get started.”

Grand Island Central Catholic jumped out to a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter as the Bulldogs had a tough time getting shots to go down. Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family cut the deficit down to one late in the half, but Jengmer cleared a defensive rebound at the end of the half and launched the ball from beyond halfcourt, not realizing how much time was left. However, Lowry ran under the arrant shot and caught it for a layup at the buzzer to make it 18-15 at the break.

Central Catholic led by as much as six in the third quarter, but a 10-2 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family run gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game. Brayton Johnson drew a foul in the final second and hit two free throws to end the run and cut the Bulldog lead to 23-21 heading into the fourth.

Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family led throughout the fourth quarter until back-to-back buckets from Herbek and Lowry put the Crusaders ahead 37-36 with 26 seconds to go. Jacob Sjuts drew a foul and split the free throws to tie it up, but he committed his fifth foul on the other end and sent Herbek to the line with 4.8 to go. A career 83% free-throw shooter, Herbek missed both, and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family’s heave at the buzzer fell short.

The Bulldogs had to play the entire overtime without their leading scorer in Jacob Sjuts, and Herbek fouled out on Central Catholic’s first possession in overtime. Jason Sjuts gave the Bulldogs the lead 90 seconds into the extra period, but Lowry answered with five straight to put the Crusaders ahead 42-39 with 1:24 to play.

Jason Sjuts split a pair of free throws to make it a two-point game, then Jengmer went 0-for-2 at the line with 69 seconds to go. Sjuts looked for the tie with a fadeaway jumper over Jengmer that came up short, but Keller put it back in to even the score at 42-all.

Lowry got a good look from mid-range on the other end but came up short, and as Sjuts looked to push the ball up the floor and slit two defenders near mid-court, he got tripped up and the officials whistled Lowry for his fifth foul with 3.7 to go. He made the first but came up short on the second and the ball went out of bounds near the corner off a Bulldog with 1.9 to go.

Out of a timeout, Brayton Johnson delivered a perfect deep pass to Jengmer, but he couldn’t get it to go at the buzzer.

“Marcus and Isaac happened to be on the bench,” Grand Island Central Catholic coach Tino Martinez said. “So we’d ran that play here in the last couple weeks in practice several times. Was it a little different angle? Obviously we ran it from the end line in practice but we had to throw from the sideline and so I was confident in our guys’ ability to execute it and they did, just came up a little short on the shot.”

Jason Sjuts went 4-for-6 at the foul line in overtime as the Bulldogs ran everything through him with his bother on the bench. Jason plans to play basketball at Northeast Community College next year, but Jacob has chosen baseball and is committed to Des Moines Area Community College.

“First off, Jacob has a habit of getting in foul trouble and it makes me really angry,” Jason Sjuts said. “But I honestly thought we were kind of done for when Herbek went to the line… I kind of knew our team, in overtime, we were going to need a spark. Especially when Herbek fouled out, I just tried to keep making plays, keep driving, if the shot’s out there find somebody. But it was pretty cool to overcome with him on the bench.”

The Bulldogs’ three wins at state were by three points, two points and one point.

BOX SCORE

Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family: 7-  8-17-  5-  6 — 43

Grand Island Central Catholic:  12-  6-13-  6-  5 — 42

HLHF: Marcus Lowry 26, Gil Jengmer 12, Brayton Johnson 2, Isaac Herbek 2

GICC: Jacob Sjuts 16, Jason Sjuts 16, Ethan Keller 4, Kyle Preister 3, Cooper Beller 2, Sage Frauendorfer 2

CLASS A GIRLS: No. 2 Fremont 37, No. 5 Lincoln Southwest 32

Fremont senior and future Hawkeye Taylor McCabe capped off a record-setting career with a state title as the Tigers closed the game on a 13-2 run to win the rubber match with Lincoln Southwest.

“It’s great to be in this position here with these girls,” Fremont coach Kelly Flynn said. “We knew Lincoln Southwest was going to be a very, very tough opponent. They played us tough every time. It wasn’t the score that we wanted, but we talked at halftime that we’re not used to having 16 points or whatever at the half, but we didn’t talk about it being a one-point game and that in a state championship it doesn’t matter if we win it 20 to 19 or 30 to 29. We just really kind of talked about the confidence, about a 16-minute game and that we were playing good defense and and that we’d get our runs. I just have so much confidence in this group and knew that they’d get it done.”

Fremont senior Taylor McCabe (10) drives with Lincoln southwest sophomore Kennadi Williams (15) guarding her. Photo by John S. Peterson.

McCabe, the state’s record-holder for career 3-pointers made some big plays down the stretch and finished with a game-high 16 points, though the Silver Hawks made her work for every bucket. Senior Macy Bryant added nine points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.

Southwest outscored Fremont 28 to 16 in the paint, but the Silver Hawks went 0-for-9 from deep and and attempted just four free throws. The normally high-powered Tigers made just 12 buckets all night, but four of them were 3s and they went 9-for-11 from the charity stripe.

Fremont hit just one if its first 14 shots as the Silver Hawks built up a 13-5 lead early in the second quarter, but McCabe knocked down a step-back 3 to get Fremont going and the Tigers narrowed the gap to one at halftime.

McCabe went on a personal 7-0 run to give Fremont a four-point lead in the third quarter. Southwest responded with an 11-1 to pull ahead 30-26 a minute into the fourth, but the Silver Hawks didn’t score again until a layup by Kennadi Williams with less than 10 seconds to play. After hitting two of their first three shots, the Silver Hawks went 1-for7 the rest of the way.

Macy Bryant converted a three-point play to get Fremont’s run started, then after another bucket from Bryant sophomore McKenna Murphy knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Tigers the lead with less than two minutes to play. 

“Bella [Keaton] trusted me a ton,” Murphy said. “She drove in, got double-teamed, kicked it out and that was my first 3 of the game, and it was it was pretty cool to hit that. It just gave everyone momentum, everyone was screaming, cheering and it just it pushed us on the defensive side as well.”

Bryant and Murphy went 5-of-6 at the foul line in the final minute to seal the victory.

After coming up short against Lincoln Pius X in the title game last season, the Tigers got it done this year against another opponent from Lincoln to win the school’s first state title. All 16 of McCabe’s points came in the last three quarters.

“I waited four months to play in this game, I think we all felt the same way,” McCabe said. “And just to show up today and have it all be real and something entirely different, you can’t really prepare for that. Once they come out and start hitting a couple shots and we are struggling to get stops and we’re down in the first quarter, we’re now at halftime, there’s just something that’s got to click and I definitely had that. I wasn’t going to go out my last game, so I had to do what it took.”

BOX SCORE

Fremont:                    5-11-  8-13 — 32

Lincoln Southwest: 11-  6-  9-  6 — 37

F: Taylor McCabe 16, Macy Bryant 9, McKenna Murphy 7, Emmalee Sheppard 3, Sarah Shepard 2

LSW: Freddie Wallace 9, Kennedi Williams 6, Brinly Christensen 6, Taryn Ling 5, Aniya Seymore 4, McKenna Rathbun 2

CLASS D2 GIRLS: No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart 43, No. 2 Humphrey St. Francis 33

After falling to the Flyers in last year’s state championship game, Falls City Sacred Heart evened the score on Friday thanks to a big fourth-quarter run.

The Irish found themselves locked in a one-possession battle with St. Francis with just over four minutes to play, but Rachel Magdanz and Sacred Heart’s defense carried them to the finish line. The Irish outscored the Flyers 11-1 over the next four minutes to open up a 12-point lead with 27 seconds to play. Magdanz scored eight of the 11 points during the run and assisted the other bucket while the Flyers went 0-for-6 from the field with a couple of turnovers.

Magdanz finised with a game-high 14 points on 4-of-8 from the field and 6-of-8 from the foul line with six rebounds. Olivia Eickhoff added 11 points including the other three during the run in the fourth. Sacred Heart didn’t make a 3 but outscored the Flyers 26 to 14 in the paint and 15 to eight at the foul line.

The Irish closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run to take 12-7 lead then scored first in the second period. Sacred Heart led by five again going into halftime, but the Flyers made push in the third.

St. Francis used an 8-0 run featuring four different scorers to take a 22-21 lead midway through the period. After going back and fourth for a bit, the Irish closed out the period with buckets from Eickhoff and Magdanz to build up a 30-25 lead at the end if the third. St. Francis pulled within two twice, but Sacred Heart delivered its knockout blow after that.

The state title is the seventh for the Sacred Heart girls and first since the 2017-2018 season.

Former Flyer and Husker freshman Allison Weidner was in the building to watch her team, but they couldn’t repeat their effort from a season ago when Weidner was still in uniform.

BOX SCORE

Falls City Sacred Heart: 12-  7-11-13 — 43

Humphrey St. Francis:     7-  7-11-  8 — 33

FCSH: Rachel Magdanz 14, Olivia Eickhoff 11, Erico Vonderschmidt 6, Jessica Wertenberger 6, Lauren Malone 4, Melanie Witt 2

HSF: Kaylee Stricklin 10, Isabel Preister 9, Kylee Wessel 6, Emma Baumgart 4, Hannah Baumgart 2, Jalyssa Hastreiter 2

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