The Nebraska Boys State Basketball Championships tipped off on Wednesday with Class C1, D1 and A quarterfinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena and the Devaney Center.
CLASS C1 QUARTERFINALS
No. 8 Auburn 47, No. 1 Wahoo 44
For the second straight year, the top-seeded Warriors fell in the first round while state tournament mainstay and last year’s runner-up, Auburn, is back in the semifinals as the No. 8 seed.
Junior guard Maverick Binder and senior big man Carson Leslie did the navy lifting early, but it was sophomore Nixon Ligouri who stepped up in the fourth quarter after struggling in the first three. He knocked down a big 3-pointer and went 5-for-6 at the foul line for eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Binder finished with 13 points on 3-for-7 from 3 and 4-for-4 from the foul line with five rebounds and two steals. Leslie matched him with 13 points on 6-of-8 from the field and 1-of-2 from the line with five boards and three blocks before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Junior Marcus Glock came alive in the fourth quarter for Wahoo, scoring 12 of his game-high 16, but he was the only Warrior in double figures. Wahoo went 11-for-21 from the foul line in the three-point loss.
The teams went back and forth throughout the first half with an 8-3 Auburn start, an 8-2 Wahoo response, a 7-0 Bulldogs spurt then a 6-0 Warrior stretch to tie it up at 17-all.
Auburn scored five of the last six points including a step-back 3 at the buzzer from Binder to take a 22-18 lead at halftime.
Wahoo pulled within one twice, but Auburn maintained the lead throughout the entire third quarter and went into the fourth leading 30-27.
Wahoo continued to hang around and earned a chance to tie the game at the free-throw line with 54.7 to play, but the Warriors missed both. On the other end, Skylar Roybal split a pair of free throws but Austin Lavigne, in for the fouled-out Leslie, grabbed the offensive board and Ligouri took advantage of the extra possession with a 2-for-2 trip to the line to put Auburn up five with 34.9 to play.
Auburn made enough free throws the rest of the way to hold on, though the Warriors made it interesting with some buckets late. Wahoo’s last chance came with 1 second left as Auburn fouled at halfcourt to send Owen Hancock to the line to prevent a 3-point attempt. Needing to make the first and miss the second for a potential put-back, he missed the first, sealing the Bulldog victory.
Auburn advances to the semifinals on Friday.
Auburn: 8-14- 8-17 — 47
Wahoo: 7-11- 9-17 — 44
A: Maverick Binder 13, Carson Leslie 13, Nixon Ligouri 10, Skyler Roybal 10, Austin Lavigne 2, Payton Boden 1
W: Marcus Glock 16, Trey Simon 7, Owen Hancock 6, Anthony Simon 5, Kamron Kasischke 4, Benji Nelson 3, Garrett Grandgenett 3
No. 5 Omaha Concordia 53, No. 4 Pierce 45
The lower seeds went 2-for-2 in the morning session at the Devaney Center as 6-foot-10 junior Quientan McCafferty powered the Mustangs to a first-round victory.
McCafferty finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks while shooting 3-of-4 from 3-point range. Carter Sunde scored 11 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line with six rebounds. Elliott Wilson chipped in 10 points, four boards and three steals.
Iowa State football commit Ben Brahmer did the heavy lifting early with 18 of Pierce’s first 28 points, but he didn’t score again after that. Brahmer grabbed eight rebounds and blocked a pair of shots as well.
Concordia opened up a 16-11 lead in the second quarter, but McCafferty picked up his second foul at the 6:32 mark and set the rest of the half. Pierce took advantage to cut the deficit to two at halftime, 18-16.
McCafferty and Brahmer traded buckets early in the third quarter with ties at 18-18, 20-20 and 22-22, but Concordia took the lead for good with a 6-0 run. McCafferty picked up his third foul with 2:24 to go in the quarter, but this time Concordia maintained its lead without him and took a 32-25 advantage into the fourth thanks to a jumper from Sunde at the buzzer.
Concordia continued to roll int he third, extending the lead out to 13 midway through the period. Pierce managed to trim the lead all the way down to five with 1:27 to play but Jack Thrasher beat the Pierce press for a layup and the Mustangs used the game on an 8-4 run.
Abram Scholting scored 17 of his game-high 20 in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Concordia will take on No. 8 seed Auburn in Friday’s semifinal in a rematch from last year’s quarterfinals. Tipoff is set for 9 a.m. a Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Omaha Concordia: 9- 9-14-21 — 53
Pierce: 5-11- 9-20 — 45
OC: Quientan McCafferty 18, Carter Sunde 11, Jack Thrasher 9, Jackson Shepherd 5
P: Abram Scholting 20, Ben Brahmer 18, Colby Anderson 4, Deon Watts 3
>> No. 2 Ogallala 67, No. 7 Central City 46: Ogallala’s mach towers perfection continues on after Jeron Gager dropped 22 points and and Harry Caskey added 18 to lead the Indians to a 21-point victory. Kenia Kearney led Central City with 18 points.
>> No. 3 Ashland-Greenwood 52, No. 6 Sidney 28: The reigning champion advanced to the semifinals with a dominant defensive performance. Brooks Kissinger led the way with 16 points while Dane Jacobsen added 12 and Cougar Konzem chipped in with 11. Jaeden Dillehay led the Red Raiders with 13 points.
CLASS A QUARTERFINALS
No. 1 Bellevue West 68, No. 8 Lincoln North Star 46
Bellevue West opened up a 16-point lead early in the second quarter and cruised into the semifinals despite the best efforts of North Star senior Antallah Sandlin’el.
6-foot-8 forward put on a tough shot-making display with a flurry of jumpers, finishing with a game-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting (3-of-5 from 3) and 3-of-5 free-throw shooting. However, the only other Navigator with more than one bucket was Brennon Clemmons Jr. with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The Thunderbirds backcourt of Creighton commit Josiah Dotzler and junior Jaden Jackson nearly equalled North Star by themselves as Dotzler finished with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting (4-of-8 from 3) and 5-of-6 from the foul line and Jackson added 19 while shooting 8-of-14 from the field including 3-of-5 from 3.
North Star kept it somewhat respectable in the second and third quarters before Bellevue West stretched it out again with a 20-point fourth.
Nebraska football target Isaiah McMorris chipped in 10 points off the bench for the Thunderbirds, shooting 3-for-3 from the field with a triple and 3-for-4 from the line.
Bellevue West improves to 26-0 and advances to Friday’s semifinals.
Lincoln North Star: 6-14-14-12 — 46
Bellevue West: 17-14-17-20 — 68
BW: Josiah Dotzler 21, Jaden Jackson 19, Isaiah McMorris 10, Eldon Turner 7, Steven Poulicek 5, Jaxon Stueve 2, Robby Garcia 2, Jacob Arop 2
LNS: Antallah Sandlin’el 26, Brennon Clemmons Jr. 11, Will Schafer 3, Lazerek Houston 2, KG Gatwech 2
No. 5 Omaha Westside 84, No. 4 Lincoln East 34
One month after the Spartans ran the Warriors off the floor their own floor in a game where Westside misfired on all 15 of its 3-point attempts, Westside sent East home down in Lincoln with an outstanding offensive performance.
Westside had seven players with eight or more points led by Kevin Stubblefield with 20 points on 9-of-12 from the field (1-of-1 from 3) and 1-of-2 from the foul line.
Tate Odvody scored 10 points with two steals and two blocks. Rickey Loftin scored a season-high 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting with a couple of 3s off the bench. Kevin Brown Jr. chipped in nine points, seven rebounds and three assists. CJ Mitchell also scored nine points with five rebounds and four assists.
Westside held East to 33.3% shooting including an ice-cold 2-for-16 from 3. Junior Carter Mick notched a double-double with 20 points on 50% shooting and 10 rebounds, but the only other Spartan in double figures was senior Carter Tempelmeyer with 13 points, shooting 8-for-10 from the foul line.
East jumped out to a 6-0 lead, but Westside used a 12-0 run to take a 17-10 lead late in the first quarter and the Warriors never looked back. Westside put up 20-plus in each of the last three quarters to prevent any kind of Spartan comeback attempt.
Westside will face No. 1 Bellevue West in Friday’s semifinals, a rematch of the regular season finale that saw the Warriors push the Thunderbirds to overtime, the only single-digit win for Bellevue West all season. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Omaha Westside: 19-20-23-22 — 84
Lincoln East: 12-15-15-12 — 54
OW: Kevin Stubblefield 20, Tate Odvody 10, Rickey Loftin 10, CJ Mitchell 9, KevinBrown Jr. 9, Caleb Benning 8, Malik Crawford 8, Maddox Anderson 4, Donnie Barfield 2, Montae Giddings 2, JT Evans 2
LE: Carter Mick 20, Carter Tempelmeyer 13, Jared Townsley 7, Christian Melessa 7, Connor Johnson 2, Carter Toomey 2, Connor Hamilton 1
No. 2 Millard North 81, No. 7 Elkhorn South 70
The reigning champions put on an offensive clinic early and an incredible effort from senior Alec Noonan wasn’t enough to get the Storm back into the game.
Millard North hit 11 of its first 17 shots in the game including its first six 3-pointers to build a 33-8 lead early in the second quarter. The Storm put up 20-plus in each of the last three quarters but it wasn’t enough to climb out if that 25-point hole.
Elkhorn South trimmed a 17-point half-time deficit all the way down to nine at the end of the third quarter, but the Storm went 0-for-5 from 3 in the fourth and Millard North shot 12-for-16 at the foul line.
Neal Mosser set the tone early for the Mustangs with three 3s in the first quarter alone. He finished with 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting including 4-of-6 from 3 and he hit all four of his free throws as well while dishing out four assists and nabbing three steals. Elijah Gaeth matched him with 18 points and four assists while Las grabbing six rebounds and going 8-for-10 at the foul line.
Jacob Martin scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting (2-for-3 from 3) off the bench. Derek Rollins had 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks while Skylen Williams scored 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting including 2-for-3 from deep. Camden Monie chipped in nine points, hitting all three of his shots including a pair of 3s and grabbing six rebounds.
Noonan, the twin brother of Nebraska football army enrollee Maverick Noonan and a Midland basketball commit, went off for a career-high 37 points in his final game with the Storm. Noonan put up 12 in the second quarter and 14 in the fourth, shooting 13-21 overall including 4-of-9 from 3 and 7-of-9 from the foul line.
Evan Werner was the only other Elkhorn South played in double figures with 12 points, though Caden Stone chipped in eight points and eight rebounds while Jackson Moeller-Swan put up six points, six assists and five rebounds.
Millard North advances to Friday’s semifinals.
Elkhorn South: 8-20-20-22 — 70
Millard North: 28-17-12-24 — 81
ES: Alec Noonan 37, Evan Werner 12, Caden Stone 8, Jackson Moeller-Swan 6, Lincoln Schwarz 3, Gavin Hornbacher 2, Owen Musil 2
MN: Elijah Gaeth 18, Neal Mosser 18, Jacob Martin 12, Skylen Wiliams 10, Derek Rollins 10, Camden Monie 9, Luke Davis 2, Paxon Piatkowski 2
No. 3 Gretna 60, No. 6 Lincoln Southeast 53
Wednesday’s night cap at Pinnacle Bank Arena looked like it was headed for a down-to-the-wire finish after a series of ties and lead changes to open the fourth quarter.
Taye Moore gave Southeast a 50-49 lead with two and a half to play, then after the teams traded misses, Landon Pokorski put the Dragons ahead with a bucket of his own with 95 seconds to play — sparking a game-deciding 9-0 run that put the Dragons up by eight and featured one massive shot from Alex Wilcoxson.
The junior is Gretna’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals, one of the best perimeter shooters in the state. Even so, he couldn’t buy a bucket on Wednesday. He had missed his first nine shots including four 3s, yet when the ball found its way to him after an offensive rebound, he paid no attention to the reset shot clock and showed no hesitation, firing away and burying the dagger to put the Dragons up four with about 40 seconds to play.
Two empty possessions followed and the Dragons turned them into free throws — a pair each from Wilcoxson and Pokorski — to stretch the lead to eight before Moore finally scored again for the Knights, knocking down a pull-up 3 with 7.1 to go. Wilcoxson added two more free throws to seal it and finish with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Pokorski led Gretna with 24 points, shooting 4-for-6 from 3 while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists. Jeff Rozelle chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds.
Bangot Dak led Southeast with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) and 20of-4 from the free-throw line, 10 rebounds and three blocks — his 12th double-double of the season. Moore added 13 points with three triples and three assists, but nobody else scored more than six points for the Knights.
The first three quarters were tight throughout with Gretna holding a two-point lead after one before Southeast surged ahead with a 6-0 run midway through the second quarter capped by a dunk from Dak. After trading 3s, Gretna closed the half on an 8-0 run including a deep 3 from Pokorski at the buzzer to take a 26-22 lead at halftime.
Southeast controlled the action for much of the third quarter, doubling up the Dragons 16-8 to take a 38-34 lead before buckets from Rozelle and Alec Wilkins tied it up, setting the stage for the back-and-forth final quarter.
Gretna moves on to play No. 2 Millard North in Friday’s 7:45 p.m. semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Mustangs won the regular season meeting between the two teams in overtime back on Feb. 10.
Lincoln Southeast: 9-13-16-15 — 53
Gretna: 11-15-12-22 — 60
LSE: Bangot Dak 17, Taye Moore 13, Wade Voss 6, Mari Shumaker 6, BJ Bradford 6, Jake Hilkemann 5
G: Landon Pokorski 24, Alex Wilcoxson 10, Jeff Rozelle 10, Alec Wilkins 9, Kade Cook 4, Ty Smolinski 3
CLASS D1 QUARTERFINALS
>> No. 1 North Platte St. Patrick’s 48, No. 8 Mead 37: The Raiders had no answer for St. Patrick’s Brecken Erickson who went off for 25 points to lead the Irish to victory, outscoring Mead by himself in the fourth quarter. Francis Hebenstreit led Mead with 23 points.
>> No. 5 Dundy County-Stratton 63, No. 4 Elm Creek 55, 2OT: The Tigers stormed back in the fourth quarter from a 10-point deficit to force overtime. The first extra period saw two combined points and a miss at the buzzer from Elm Creek, then Dundy County-Stratton took control in the second overtime to outscore the Buffaloes 11-3. Jason Kerchal led the Tigers with 18 points, Alex Englot added 15 and Andrew Englot chipped in 13. Carter Erickson ld Elm Creek with a game-high 21 points.
>> No. 2 Maywood/Hayes Center 72, No. 7 Ansley-Litchfield 35: Senior Hayden Kramer scored 24 of his game-high 28 in the first half to lead the Wolves to an easy first round victory. Jeremiah Ingisoon chipped in 15. Leyton Rohde led the Spartans with 13 points.
>> No. 3 Johnson-Brock 56, No. 6 Howells-Dodge 26: The Eagles blew the game open with a 28-4 second quarter and crushed to the victory behind a balanced scoring effort. Freshman Brody Koehler led the way with 13 points.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.