The Nebraska state basketball tournament moved on to the semifinal round on Wednesday with games at both Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Devaney Center.
CLASS D1 BOYS
No. 1 North Platte St. Patrick’s 55, No. 5 Burwell 32
Burwell’s 2-3 zone seemed to throw North Platte St. Patrick’s for a loop in the first quarter as the Longhorns jumped out to an 11-4 lead after one, but the game turned in a hurry in the second as the Irish scored more points (23) than the Longhorns did in the last three quarters combined (21).
St. Patrick’s scored the first 14 points of the second and never looked back to punch their ticket to the final after falling in the semis the previous two seasons.
Burwell’s zone limited St. Pat’s to 1-of-11 shooting with four turnovers in the first quarter, but the Irish knocked down five 3s and shot 9-of-15 overall in the second quarter without turning the ball over. Burwell went the entire quarter without a field goal, shooting 0-of-12 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line, as St. Patrick’s took a 27-13 lead into halftime.
Burwell opened the third quarter with a 7-2 run including three quick buckets from senior Dillon Critel, but St. Patrick’s answered with an 8-0 run and cruised the rest of the way despite no making another 3-pointer.
Brecken Erickson scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, shooting 9-of-13 overall and 1-of-2 from the foul line. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, five of which were offensive. Jack Heiss did a bit of everything with 11 points, seven assists, five steals, four rebounds and a block.
Dillon Critel was the only Longhorn in double figures with 15 points. St. Patrick’s held Burwell to 33.3% shooting with 16 turnovers.
The Irish will get a chance to compete for their first state title since 1928 on Friday.
North Platte St. Patrick’s: 4-23-10-18 — 55
Burwell: 11- 2- 9-10 — 32
NPSP: Brecken Erickson 19, Jack Heiss 11, Caleb Munson 8, Andrew Brosius 6, Sam Troshynski 3, Will Moats 2, Jackson Roberts 2, Zarek Bunch 2, Logan Winder 2
B: Dillon Critel 15, Carter Mann 7, Hans Gideon 5, Titus Gideon 3, Devin Konicek 2
No. 3 Loomis 60, No. 2 Dundy County-Stratton 48
Loomis dominated the fourth quarter to pull off a come-from-behind win and advance to the championship.
Things looked shaky for the Wolves early as they turned the ball over nine times against Dundee County-Stratton’s pressure and fell behind 16-9 at the end of the first. Loomis settled in during he second quarter, however, and surged ahead with a 12-2 run.
The teams traded blows down the stretch of the half, but the Wolves’ senior point guard, Shay Swanson, picked up his fourth foul late and the Tigers took a 32-28 lead into halftime. DCS opened the second half with a pair of layups to take control early and they eventually stretched the lead to 10 at 42-32 on a 3-pointers from Mark Nelms.
Quinn Johnson, the state’s all-time leader in career 3-pointers, answered Nelms’ triple with deep one of his own. Swanson fouled out soon after, with 1:13 to go in the third quarter, but Johnson and fellow senior Aidan Perry picked up the slack.
Perry hit a 3 to close out the third quarter, pulling Loomis within four, and then opened the fourth with another, and the Wolves didn’t stop there. They scored 13 in a row before Dundy County-Stratton finally got a shot to go down. Loomis continued to score as Johnson put together a personal 6-1 dagger run with a 3 in front of his bench and then a spinning and-one to open up a nine-point lead.
Loomis closed the game on a 28-6 run as Johnson scored 20 of his 30 in the second half, including 13 in the fourth. Johnson went 11-for-12 from the foul line. He also pulled down 12 rebounds and grabbed three steals.
Nelms hit five 3s and led the Tigers with 21 points and five rebounds. Jackson Kerchal added 10 points and 10 rebounds as Dundy County-Stratton attacked the offensive glass all game against Loomis’ zone, recording 17 offensive rebounds. However, they shot just 7-of-30 from 3 and 32.8% overall.
Loomis will take on top-seeded North Platte St. Patrick’s in the Class D1 championship on Friday at 9 a.m.
Dundy County-Stratton: 16-16-10-6 — 48
Loomis: 9-19-10-22 — 60
DCS: Mark Nelms 21, Jackson Kerchal 10, Andrew Englot 4, Cheve Lutz 4, Corbin Horner 3, Quade Myers 2
L: Quinn Johnson 30, Shay Swanson 8, Aidan Perry 8, Cale Nelson 6, Cristian Blincow 6, Wes Trompke 2
CLASS B BOYS
No. 1 Omaha Skutt 67, No. 4 Platteview 42
Skutt shot better than 50% from the field in each of the first three quarters to build up a 36-point lead and then cruised through the fourth to advance to the Class B state championship.
Platteview had no answer for the trio of JJ Ferrin, James Gninefou and Jake Brack as all three SkyHawks put up double figures in the first half. Ferrin scored inside and out, Gninefou was a beast on the offensive glass and Platteview didn’t have anybody that could bother the 6-foot-8 Brack in the post.
Gninefou finished with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-16 from the field (1-of-1 from 3) and 2-2 from the free-throw line, eight rebounds (six offensive) and two assists. Ferrin added 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (5-of-8 from 3) and six boards. Brack added 17 point on 7-of-9 from the field and 3-of-5 from the line plus nine rebounds.
Connor Millikan finished with 20 points — including 15 straight for Platteview at one point — but the SkyHawks made him work for every bit of that. He added four boards and four steals. The Trojans scored 18 points in the fourth to trim the margin a bit but they finished at 33.3% shooting.
Omaha Skutt: 20-17-13-17 — 67
Platteview: 7- 6-11-18 — 42
OS: James Gninefou 21, JJ Ferrin 19, Jake Brack 17, Wyatt Archer 4, Nate Zuroske 2, Grant Dvorak 2, Jack Healy 2
P: Connor Millikan 20, Michael Wiebelhaus 6, Ezra Stewart 5, Cael Wichman 4, Alex Draper 3, Dayton Swanson 2, Reiman Zebert 2
No. 2 Omaha Roncalli 53, No. 6 Beatrice 29
The Crimson Pride used a dominant defensive effort to knock out the reigning Class B champion and advance to the title game on Friday.
Offense was a struggle early for both teams as the first quarter ended in an 8-8 tie, and Roncalli took a 19-16 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The third quarter was all Pride, however, as Roncalli held Beatrice to two points on 0-of-8 shooting to create separation, then the Crimson Pride scored the first eight points of the fourth to build the lead to 22. Beatrice didn’t score its first second-half bucket until the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter.
Quincy Evans finish with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 3-of-3 free-throw shooting. Jake Orr stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Roncalli shot nearly 70% inside the arc to offset its struggles from the perimeter (2-of-11).
Elliot Jurgens led Beatrice with 11 points, six steals, four assists and four rebounds. Tucker Timmerman, a 2023 Nebraska baseball commit, chipped in seven points after dealing with first-half for trouble.
The Crimson Pride will face off with top-seeded Omaha Skutt for the fourth time this season. The SkyHawks won at Roncalli in overtime in their first meeting. Skutt won by double digits in the River Cities Conference championship game. The Crimson Pride won round three, however, in the subdistrict final at Skutt, a game that also went into overtime.
The championship is set for 1 p.m. on Friday.
Omaha Roncalli: 8-11-13-21 — 53
Beatrice: 8- 8- 2-11 — 29
OR: Quincy Evans 22, Jake Orr 8, Austin Schwarz 7, Lucas Brown 4, Brent Heller 3, Brady McGill 3, Nick Kenney 2, Nate McCoy 2, Hunter Giles 2
B: Elliot Jurgens 11, Tucker Timmerman 7, Dominik Salazar 4, Dawson Loomis 3, Crew Meints 2, Luke Feist 2
CLASS A GIRLS
No. 5 Lincoln Southwest 53, No. 1 Millard South 46
No team — boys or girls — will run the table this season. The fifth-seeded Silver Hawks sent Millard South, the last unbeaten team in the state, home in the semifinals on Wednesday night.
Southwest held Millard South’s leading scorer, Mya Babbitt, scoreless in the first half and built a 30-17 lead at the break. The Patriots began chipping away at the lead in the second half with Khloe Lemon and Megan Belt leading the way, and they got it all the way down to two possessions in the final minute, but a clutch steal and free throws from Kennedi Williams with 12 seconds left sealed the victory.
Williams, the daughter of Nebraska head coach Amy Williams, led the Silver Hawks with 19 points, shooting 13-of-17 from the foul line, and she also set the tone defensively.
The Silver Hawks are heading back to the championship game on Friday. They finished as the runner-up in 2019 and their only state title came in 2017.
Millard South: 8- 9-11-18 — 46
Lincoln Southwest: 17-13- 7-16 — 53
MS: Khloe Lemon 22, Megan Belt 15, Mya Babbitt 5, Cora Olsen 2, Juliana Jones 2
LSW: Kennedi Williams 19, Brinly Christensen 9, Taryn Ling 8, Freddie Wallace 7, Alexa Gobel 4, Aniya Seymore 4, McKenna Rathbun
No. 2 Fremont 62, No. 3 Lincoln High 42
When Fremont and Lincoln High faced off during the regular season, the Tigers built a 20-point fourth-quarter lead — and then lost it all as the Links rallied to hand Fremont one of its two regular season losses, 68-64.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Tigers found their rhythm in the second and pulled away. The lead reached 20 once again in the fourth quarter, and this time they closed it out to punch their ticket back to the championship game for the second year in a row.
Iowa commit Taylor McCabe, who was named Nebraska’s Gatorade Player of the Year earlier in the day on Wednesday, finished with a game-high 24 points on 8-of-16 from the field (3-of-8 from 3) and 5-of-6 from the foul line with eight rebounds. Fellow senior Bella Keaton went 7-of-8 from the charity stripe to finish with 15 points and six rebounds while sophomore McKenna Murphy chipped in 11 points and six boards.
After dealing with foul rouble throughout the first three quarters, J’unti Franklin came alive in the fourth with three triples to lead the Links with 13 points, but it wasn’t enough to get Lincoln High back in the game. Briauna Robinson got the Links off to a good start with eight of her 12 in the first quarter. Kiana Wiley chipped in 11 points.
Fremont will face off against Lincoln Southwest for a third time in the championship game at 6 p.m. on Friday. The Tigers won both regular season meetings — one by 27 and one by four.
Fremont: 12-13-22-15 — 62
Lincoln High: 13- 9-10-10 — 42
F: Taylor McCabe 24, Bella Keaton 15, McKenna Murphy 11, Sarah Shepard 9, Emmalee Sheppard 3
LH: J’unti Franklin 13, Briauna Robinson 12, Kiana Wiley 11, Dyvine Harris 2, Nyawarga Jock 2, Jailynn Brill 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.