The BRLD boys and girls programs made a rare trip to the Omaha Metro to take on Elkhorn North on Tuesday night, but the host Wolves — in the school’s first year — swept the varsity double-header.
The Elkhorn North girls dominated the first game behind spectacular freshman Britt Prince, earning a 65-26 win with a running clock fourth quarter.
On the boys side, Elkhorn North jumped out to a double-digit lead then repelled a fourth-quarter comeback to hold on for an 84-76 win.
Here are five thoughts on the night.
Elkhorn North Girls
We’ll lead off with Prince, the 5-foot-10 freshman who outscored the entire other team by 10 in three quarters of work. She finished with 36 points on 14-of-18 shooting (7-of-9 from 3) and 1-of-1 from the free-throw line with five rebounds, three steals and two assists in about 24 minutes of playing time.
Prince received offers from Creighton and Nebraska before she even set foot on a high school court, and it was pretty clear why that was the case on Thursday night. Prince is first and foremost a fantastic shooter with a soft touch who was canning shots from well beyond the arc all night. She also made some impressive moves to the basket, finishing through contact a couple of times. Defensively, she showed some great anticipation in the passing lanes.
Elkhorn North wasn’t just a one-girl show, however. Reilly Palmer scored 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter, helping the Wolves jump out to a 27-11 lead. Reilly also had six assists and three steals while Grace Thompson chipped in six assists and five steals. Hannah Nadgwick played some terrific post defense and Molly Brugemann made three of her four shots for seven points and grabbed five boards.
The Wolves improved to 11-0 with the win. Coach Ann Prince (Britt’s mom) has done a heck of a job building this program from scratch and Elkhorn North will certainly be in the mix for the postseason in year one.
Thursday was certainly a rough night for the Wolverines. They fell behind 42-20 at halftime and then scored six total points in the second half. BRLD simply wasn’t ready for Elkhorn North’s aggressiveness defensively (18 turnovers, 13 of which were Elkhorn North steals).
But the upside is now they have seen an opponent like that and will be better prepared for a matchup like this in the future. BRLD is now 7-3 on the season after making the state tournament last year.
The Wolverines have an intriguing one-two punch in penetrating guard Caragan Tietz (didn’t finish well on Thursday but made some impressive moves to the basket) and 6-foot-2 center Jordan Snyder. Snyder led BRLD with nine points, six rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks on Thursday.
Elkhorn North Boys
The Wolves jumped all over the Wolverines early, getting great looks offensively and making life tough for BRLD star point guard Lucas Vogt. North jumped out to a 25-11 lead early in the second quarter and never relinquished the advantage.
BRLD steadily worked its way back into the game, but every time the Wolverines made a push a Wolf made a big shot in response. In the fourth quarter, BRLD cut it all the way down to one possession at 69-66 midway through the period before Elkhorn North responded with an 8-0 run (a layup by Carson Ripley, a 3 by Nathan Cunningham and another 3 by Brandon Orgilbold) to stretch it back out.
Orgilbold has been terrific this season for the Wolves. After playing mostly JV at Elkhorn as a sophomore, he’s stepped into the No. 1 option role with the Wolves and is flourishing. The 6-foot-1 guard is a terrific athlete who finishes at a high rate around the basket, and he’s an improving 3-point shooter as well. Orgilbold finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds (both game-highs) while shooting 10-of-17 from the field, 3-of-6 from 3 and 5-of-7 from the foul line.
Cunningham stepped up in a big way in the fourth quarter. After scoring four points in the first quarter, he went scoreless in the second and third and missed his first two 3-point attempts. In the fourth, he went 3-for-3 from deep with some timely hits and tacked on a couple of free throws to give him 15 points for the game.
Jack Lusk, the son of Creighton assistant coach Paul Lusk, scored 12 points on 4-of-6 from deep, and I’m talking way deep. I don’t think he toed the line on any of his attempts. Luke Tillman matched him with 12 points off the bench.
Overall, the Wolves shot 43.8% from the field including 11-of-23 from 3 and 17-of-23 from the foul line to secure their fourth win of the season.
BRLD, the reigning two-time Class C-2 state champion, saw its winning streak end at 55 games earlier this season with an overtime loss against Howells-Dodge. Now it’s suffered a second loss in a season for the first time since 2017-18 when the Wolverines went 26-3. They didn’t go down easy, however.
BRLD fell behind by 14, cut it down to three, fell behind again by nine at halftime, cut it to three again, went into the fourth down by six and cut it back to three a couple more times before running out of steam.
The engine that has driven the program’s success the last few years is point guard Lucas Vogt. The sub-6-foot senior is one of the most explosive athletes in Class C2 who has tremendous court vision and a great feel for the game.
Vogt opened the game with a layup, crossing up his defender and exploding to the rim. However, he missed his last six shots of the quarter, checking out late in the period to remove the tape from his foot. An injury suffered in a previous game was clearly bothering him, but he returned to the game to start the second quarter and played the rest of the way. Vogt didn’t shoot as well as he’s capable of, but he still finished with 24 points, 11 assists, three boards, three steals and a block. He led the comeback charge in the third quarter, scoring 10 points on a variety of layups and pull-up jumpers.
Dylan Beutler, the only other returning starter from last year’s title team, finished with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-5 from 3), five boards and two blocks. The 6-foot-5 forward is a tough match-up with his ability to step out and shoot as well as finish around the basket. He scored half his points in the first quarter, but Elkhorn North did a better job limiting his opportunities after that.
The third-leading scorer on Thursday only played one half, but he flashed some serious playmaking potential. Senior guard Toriano Bohannon Jr., a transfer from Marty Indian High school in South Dakota, finished with 12 points off the bench after sitting the whole first half. Bohannon shot 3-of-7 from deep including a tough step-back and converted an impressive and-one as well. If he can find some consistency and give the Wolverines a reliable third scorer, they’ll be a tough out in Class C2 once again.
I’m a fan of the best teams in lower classes taking on quality teams in a higher class. You’ll often see plenty of fringe matchups with some Class B teams taking on C1 teams, for example, but you don’t often see a two-class jump.
That’s why I’m a big fan of the annual Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island — it provides some matchups that otherwise never would happen. On a related note, both of these boys teams are scheduled to compete in this year’s Heartland Hoops Classic with Elkhorn North taking on St. Paul and BRLD facing Class C1 reigning champion Auburn.
In addition to the cross-class clash, I was also happy to get a chance to see Vogt, even if he wasn’t 100%. Like Yutan’s Brady Timm, he’s one of my favorite players to watch and I didn’t really get a chance to see him in the regular season the last two years.