The Nebraska Boys State Basketball Championships moved on to the semifinal round on Friday as all six classes took the court at other Pinnacle Bank Arena or the Devaney Center.
Quarterfinal roundups: Wednesday | Thursday
CLASS C1 SEMIFINALS
No. 8 Auburn 54, No. 5 Omaha Concordia 53
Deadlocked at 35-all early in the fourth quarter, Auburn ripped off a 9-0 run then made just enough free throws down the stretch to punch its ticket to the championship game for the fifth straight year.
Four Bulldogs scored in double figures ld by sophomore Nixon Ligouri with 17. He went 3-for-4 from deep and hit four of his six free throws in the fourth quarter. Maverick Binder added 13 points on 3-of-5 from the filed (1-of-2 from 3) and 6-of-9 from the line.
The senior frontcourt came up big as well for Auburn. Skyler Roybal added 11 points on 4-of-7 from the filed and 3-of-4 from the line with six rebounds while Carson Leslie finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Auburn shot over 50% from the field including 5-of-9 from 3 but missed nine of its 24 free-throw attempts to give Concordia a chance late.
Auburn’s defense came to play, holding the Mustangs to 1-of-11 shooting with a pair of turnovers in the first quarter to take an 8-3 lead after eight minutes. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 16-5 before the Mustangs turned the tide.
McCafferty and Sunde took over, powering a 16-3 Concordia run to end the half capped by a 3 from McCafferty at the buzzer after an offensive rebound bounced out to him on the wing. The duo combined for 15 of Concordia’s 18 in the quarter.
The teams went back and forth throughout the third quarter with seven lead changes, but the Bulldogs finished strong with back-to-back 3s from Ligouri to take a 32-28 lead into the fourth.
Concordia tied it up twice early in the final period before Auburn’s big run. Leslie started it with a tough offensive round and put-back through contact for a three-point play, then Binder followed it up with six straight of his own including an and-one, a tough finish after a steal and a 1-for-2 trip to the line to put Auburn up 44-35 with just under three minutes to go.
McCafferty finally ended the Concordia drought with a 3-pointer out of a timeout. The teams traded buckets from there before Concordia began playing the foul game with less than two minutes to play. The Bulldogs missed six free throws to keep the door open and the Mustangs managed to cut the deficit down to two with 21.2 to play, but Ligouri and Roybal each went 2-for-2 at the line to close it out.
Sunde and McCaffery scored 10 points apiece in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t quite enough. McCafferty finished with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-11 from the field (5-of-8 from 3) and 2-of-3 from the line plus eight rebounds. Sunde added 19 points and four assists while connecting on all nine of his free-throw attempts.
After falling in last year’s championship on a buzzer-beater, the Bulldogs will get another crack at winning it all on Saturday.
Auburn: 8-11-13-22 — 54
Omaha Concordia: 3-18- 7-25 — 53
A: Nixon Ligouri 17, Maverick Binder 13, Skyler Roybal 11, Carson Leslie 10, Payton Boden 3
OC: Quientan McCafferty 21, Carter Sunde 19, Jackson Shepherd 8, Elliott Wilson 3, Jack Thrasher 2
No. 3 Ashland-Greenwood 50, No. 2 Ogallala 20
Ogallala’s journey to perfection came to an end in the semifinals on Friday as Ashland-Greenwood completely shut down the high-powered Indian offense to set up a rematch from last year’s C1 championship.
The Bluejays held the Indians to eight total field goals and 17.8% shooting including 1-for-20 from 3. Ogallala didn’t get many good looks most of the game and the tough shots the Bluejays forced didn’t go down for the most part.
The hero from last year’s title run, Cale Jacobsen, was in the crowd for this one, but his little brother Dane Jacobsen filled the void. The junior scored a game-high 16 points on 4-of-7 from the field (1-of-2 from 3) and 7-of-7 from the foul line.
Junior Harry Caskey was the only Indian with more than one bucket, finishing with 13 of the team’s 20 on 50% shooting. Ashland-Greenwood held Jeron Gager and Sawyer Smith to one bucket apiece, 24 points below their combined season average.
Ogallala missed 13 of its first 14 field goals as the Bluejays jumped out to a 14-2 lead early in the second quarter. The Bluejays extended the lead to 16 before Ogallala’s first and only 3 of the game made it 22-9 heading into halftime.
Casey scored the first four points of the third quarter to cut the deficit down to nine as Ashland-Greenwood missed its first seven shots, but the Bluejays closed the period on an 8-1 run then continued to stretch it out throughout the fourth quarter.
Ashland-Greenwood will be the designated home team on Saturday facing No. 8 Auburn in the C1 final at Pinnacle Bank Arena, set for 11 a.m. CT. The Bluejays snapped Auburn’s run of consecutive state titles at three last year on Evan Shepard’s game-winning 3.
Ashland-Greenwood: 9-13- 8-20 — 50
Ogallala: 2- 7- 5- 6 — 20
AG: Dane Jacobsen 16,, Cade Bridges 8,, Dawson Thies 6, Cougar Konzem 6, Brooks Kissinger 5, Landon Mohs 3, Drake Zimmerman 2, Derek Tonjes 1
O: Harry Caskey 13, Jeron Gager 2, Sawyer Smith 2, Ian Shaw 1
CLASS B SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Omaha Skutt 57, No. 5 Crete 55
The regular season meeting between Skutt and Crete was a near-30-point blowout in favor of the SkyHawks. Round two followed a completely different script, though it produced the same result — a Skutt victory — thanks to a clutch play from a senior big man.
Crete rallied from a double-digit first-half deficit, trimming Skutt’s lead all the way down to two. The SkyHawks came up empty at the line and Skutt called a timeout with seven seconds left to draw up their final play.
The team’s leading scorer, junior Aidan McDowell, took a dribble handoff from senior Jabin Gardiner and turned the corner, looking to get downhill going to his left. McDowell attempted to put up a floater, but 6-foot-9 center Jack Healey rotted from the weak side and swatted the ball away, allowing time to expire and secure the victory.
Jack. Healey. Ball game.
Skutt moves on to the final. #nebpreps pic.twitter.com/9ClsZyaxJS
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) March 10, 2023
Healey had four blocks in the game to go with his six points, four rebounds and two assists. JJ Ferrin led everyone with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting including 6-of-8 from deep. South Dakota commit Jake Brack added 13 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter after the Cardinals did a good job limiting his opportunities in the first three periods.
McDowell led Crete with 19 points, shooting 3-of-6 from 3 and 8-for-8 from the line. Gardiner added 15 points and five boards while junior Ben Ehlers chipped in 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Ferrin, a Wayne State commit, was locked in from the opening tip, finding open spaces against Crete’s 1-3-1 zone to go 5-for-5 from 3 in the first quarter. Skutt scored the first 10 points of the game, then after Crete settled in and cut the lead to two the SkyHawks closed the quarter on an 11-2 run to take a 23-11 lead into the second period.
Ferrin missed his first 3-point attempt of the second quarter and didn’t take a shot the rest of the half as Crete did a much better job keeping tabs on him. The Cardinals held Skutt to 1-for-8 shooting and just six points to trim the deficit to 29-21 at halftime. Crete switched defenses between 1-3-1, 2-3 and man-to-man all night to keep giving Skutt a different look.
The Cardinals continued to hang tough on defense in the third quarter, cutting the lead to five a few different times, but the SkyHawks took a 38-31 advantage into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter featured a combined 41 points and nearly 70% shooting as both offenses got untracked and started putting the ball through the hoop. Crete managed to make up ground by tradings 3s (and three-point plays) for 2s, however, and the SkyHawks left the door ajar with some missed free throws.
Fortunately for Skutt, Healey slammed it shut to send the SkyHawks back to the championship.
Crete: 11-10-10-22 — 55
Omaha Skutt: 23- 6- 9-19 — 57
C: Aidan McDowell 19, Jabin Gardiner 15, Ben Ehlers 10, Trace Egge 6, Mason Crumbliss 3, Kenner Svitak 2
OS: JJ Ferrin 22, Jake Brack 13, Mitch Scholl 7, Brock Scholl 6, Jack Healey 6, Kyle Cannon 3
No. 2 Platteview 80, No. 6 York 54
Connor Millikan put on a show — as he’s been doing his entire career — but this time his backcourt partners joined the party to send Platteview to its first state championship game.
Millikan, Trey Moseman and Alex Draper combined for 71 points, 12-of-21 3-point shooting and 17 assists as the Trojans routed the Dukes.
Millikan finished with 31 points on 12-of-22 from the filed (2-of-3 from 3) and 5-of-6 from the foul line, 15 rebounds (five offensive), eight assists, four steals and four blocks. Moseman put up 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting including 5-of-10 from deep with five assists. Draper got hot in the second half to finish with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting including 5-of-8 from 3 and four assists.
Millikan outscored York by himself in the first quarter with 13 points as the Trojans raced out to a 22-9 lead, then Moseman poured in 11 in the second quarter as Platteview expanded the lead out to 43-33 at halftime. Platteview shot 8-for-14 form deep in the first 16 minutes.
Platteview’s defensive intensity slipped with such a big lead and York found a bit of an offensive rhythm as Ryan Servers came alive with nine points in the third quarter, but but Draper went 3-for-3 from deep in the period to prevent York from climbing back into the game.
Seevers finished with 18 points to lead the Dukes while fellow senior Austin Phinney added an efficient 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Platteview will face No. 1 Omaha Skutt on Friday at 11 a.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena for the Class B championship. The two did not meet during the regular season.
York: 9-13-18-14 — 54
Platteview: 22-21-19-18 — 80
Y: Ryan Seevers 18, Austin Phinney 11, Barrett Olson 9, Leyton Snodgrass 6, Riley Clark 6, Garrett Ivey 2, Dalton Snodgrass 2
P: Connor Millikan 31, Trey Moseman 23, Alex Draper 17, Reiman Zetert 4, Jayden Pinkerton 3, Jaxon Adams 2
CLASS A SEMIFINALS
No. 1 Bellevue West 74, No. 5 Omaha Westside 41
The last time these two teams played, Bellevue West escaped at the buzzer in overtime as a game-winning 3-pointer for Westside didn’t fall. The Thunderbirds made sure it didn’t come down to the final seconds when they met again on Friday.
Bellevue West was locked in on defense from the opening tip and blitzed Westside out of the gates, hitting seven of its first eight shots and building up a 19-4 lead at the end of the quarter as Westside shot 1-for-10 from the field.
Rickey Loftin provided a spark off the Westside bench with a couple of layups and a couple of steals, helping Westside trim the Bellevue West lead down to 12 at halftime, 29-17. The Warriors picked it up defensively, holding Bellevue West to 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
The momentum was short-lived, however. Bellevue West scored on its first nine possessions of the second half to open up a 47-19 lead. They went nearly five minutes without an empty trip down the floor and never really slowed down the rest of the way.
Creighton commit Josiah Dotzler led Bellevue West with 21 points on 8-of-14 from the field (3-of-7 from 3) and 2-of-4 from the line. Junior Jaden Jackson, who received his first Division I offer on Thursday — from Chris Crutchfield at Omaha — added 13 points on 5-of-7 from the field including 1-of-2 from 3 and 2-of-2 from the foul line plus eight rebounds. Sophomore Robby Garcia chipped in nine points and six boards.
Loftin and Kevin Stubblefield led Westside with 10 points apiece.
Only one game separates Bellevue West from the first undefeated season in Class A since the 2012 Omaha Central Eagles — the Class A championship on Saturday evening.
Omaha Westside: 4-13- 8-16 — 41
Bellevue West: 19-10-24-21 — 74
OW: Kevin Stubblefield 10, Rickey Loftin 10, CJ Mitchell 6, Tate Odvody 4, Malik Crawford 3, Kevin Brown Jr. 3, Tyson Odvody 2
BW: Josiah Dotzler 21, Jaden Jackson 13, Robby Garcia 9, Jacob Arop 6, Isaiah McMorris 5, J’Dyn Bullion 4, Eldon Turner 4, Steven Poulicek 3, Josh High 2, CJ Gauff 2
No. 2 Millard North 54, No. 3 Gretna 52
Millard North sophomore Derek Rollins got off to as bad a start as one could imagine. He went scoreless in the first quarter and missed his first seven shots overall. However, he kept plugging away at it and when the game was on the line, Rollins stepped up and delivered.
After Alex Wilcoxson had tied the game up with a short jumper off the glass with 50 seconds to play, Millard North needed a bucket. Out of a timeout, the Mustangs moved the ball around before Jacob Martin got a piece of the paint and dropped the ball off to Camden Monie under the basket. Landon Pokorski recovered in time to swat the shot, but the ball went right to Rollins who secured it, gathered himself and put it bak up and in over the 6-foot-6 Jeff Rozelle just before the shot clock expired.
After a Gretna timeout, Millard North used a foul to give before Pokorski could get off a shot, forcing thee Dragons to reset with 6.8 to go. Pokorski got the ball in to Wilcoxson with Elijah Gaeth defending him. The junior guard backed Gaeth down then spun and tried to go up through his arms but didn’t get the bucket or the foul. He had two more cracks at it as the ball came back to him, but he missed the first and Gaeth blocked the second to score the victory.
After losing four starters and its head coach from last year’s state title team, Millard North is right back in the championship.
After his nightmare start, Rollins made six of his last nine shots to finish with 14 points, 10 rebounds including four on the offensive end and two blocks. He scored Millard North’s last two buckets including the game-winner.
Neal Mosser, the only current Mustang who was in the starting lineup for last year’s championship, made very shot he took (two 2s, two 3s and two free throws) to score 12 points. Martin provided a spark off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting including 2-of-3 from deep.
Rozelle was a monster for the Dragons, closing out his career with one of his best performances. He put up a game-high 21 points on 9-of-13 from the field and 3-of-3 from the line, nine rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks. He was the biggest reason Gretna had a shot at the end despite shooting 3-of-15 from 3 (compared to Millard North’s 7-of-17).
The teams went back and forth early as neither team led by more than five at any point in the first half. Millard North took a 26-21 lead into halftime then extended it out to 10 as Gaeth set up Rollins inside and Skylen Williams outside, two of his game-high eight assists.
Gretna chipped away at the deficit the rest of the period with Rozelle beating the third-quarter buzzer with a put-back to cut it to four at 41-37. The Dragons continued to make a push in the fourth with Roselle tying the game up at 44-all on a three-point play with 5:31 to go.
Mosser hit a deep 3 to put the Mustangs back in front and Millard North pushed the lead out to four with just over three minutes to play, but the Dragons tied it up again with a 6-2 run including buckets from Pokorski, Wilcoxson and Roselle, setting up the final sequence.
Millard North moves on to face No. 1 Bellevue West in the championship game for the fourth straight season. The Thunderbirds won the first but the Mustangs took the last two. Bellevue West won big when they met during the regular season this year, though — 69-46.
Tipoff for Saturday’s Class A championship is set for 6:15 p.m.
Gretna: 11-10-16-15 — 52
Millard North: 12-14-15-13 — 54
G: Jeff Rozelle 21, Landon Pokorski 9, Alex Wilcoxson 9, Kade Cook 6, Alec Wilkins 4, Ty Smolinski 3
MN: Derek Rollins 14, Neal Mosser 12, Jacob Martin 10, Skylen Williams 9, Elijah Death 5, Camden Monie 2, Paxon Piatkowski 2
CLASS C2 SEMIFINALS
>> No. 1 Freeman 63, No. 4 Hartington Cedar Catholic 45: Carter Niles scored 21, Taylan Vetrovsky added 19 and Carter Ruse chipped in 13 as the top-seeded Falcons flew into the final. Big man Jaxson Bernecker led Cedar Catholic with 20 points.
>> No. 2 Amherst 36, No. 6 Tri County 19: The Broncos shut out the Trojans in the first quarter and surrendered just eight total buckets all game long to roll into the final. Tayje Hadwiger nearly matched Tri County by himself with 17 points.
The top two seeds in Freeman and Amherst will battle for the title in the 4:15 p.m. game on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
CLASS D1 SEMIFINALS
>> No. 1 North Platte St. Patrick’s 43, No. 5 Dunk County-Stratton 40: The Irish used a 15-9 third quarter to pull ahead then held on in the fourth to advance to the final. Brecken Erickson led the way with 15 points, eight of which came form the foul line. Alex Englot scored half of the Tigers’ total by himself.
>> No. 3 Johnson-Brock 48, No. 2 Maywood/Hayes Center 40: The Eagles outscored he Wolves 25-24 in the second half to punch its ticket to the championship. Sophomore Camden Dalinghaus (24 points) out-dueled Maywood/Hayes Center junior Jeremiah Ingison (20 points).
No. 1 North Platte St. Patricks will take on No. 3 Johnson-Brock in the first game of the day on Friday at 9 a.m.
CLASS D2 SEMIFINALS
>> No. 1 Wynot 53, No. 5 Sumner-Eddyville-Miller 50: The top-seed survived a tight battle with S-E-M, pulling out a narrow victory behind 12 points apiece from Chase Schroeder and Zack Foxhoven. Kellen Eggleston led four Mustangs in double figures with 12 points.
>> No. 3 Lincoln Parkview 86, No. 2 Shelton 57: The reigning champions nearly 30-balled the Bulldogs thanks to a 42-20 second half. Viktar Kachalouski led the way with 29 points while Terance Pittman (19), Maurice Reide (15) and Keyan Simonson (12) scored in double figures as well. Riley Bombeck led Shelton with 22 points.
No. 1 Wynot will face No. 3 Lincoln Parkview in the final championship game, set for an 8:15 p.m. tipoff.
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.