As part of a season-opening pod tournament, Grand Island and Elkhorn South both traveled to Lincoln East to square off on Saturday afternoon.
The Islanders got off to a good start, but the Storm dominated play the rest of the way for a 73-48 win.
Here are five thoughts.
Grand Island grabbed control early on, scoring the last eight points of the first quarter to take a 17-9 lead. The Islanders held the Storm to 3-of-13 from the field including 2-of-8 from downtown.
Then Elkhorn South flipped a switch, and Grand Island had no answer.
Over the last three quarters, the Storm outscored the Islanders 64-31. Despite the rough first quarter, the Storm shot 50% from the field overall including 40% from 3.
It started in the second quarter, which Elkhorn South won 22-9 to turn an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead at halftime. Four different players knocked down a 3-pointer and seven scored at least a point as the Storm spread the ball around.
The third quarter was more of the same as Elkhorn South won it 25-12 while shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from deep. This time one player did the heavy lifting, though as Alec Noonan scored 12 of his game-high 20 in the period.
Noonan is the son of former Husker Danny Noonan and twin brother of 2023 Huskers edge rusher target Maverick Noonan. He shot 6-of-10 from the field (3-of-5 from 3) and 5-of-7 from the foul line to get his 20 points and is poised for a big junior year.
Elkhorn South pushed its lead to 20 early in the fourth quarter and cruised to the finish.
Talented Mr. Traudt
Grand Island very well may be home to the state’s leading scorer this season in Virginia commit Isaac Traudt. The 6-foot-9 senior followed up a 34-point first game with 28 more on Saturday and chipped in nine rebounds, both game highs.
Traudt knocked down three 3s (all from well beyond the high school line), drew four shooting fouls (hitting seven of the eight free throws) and mixed things up between tough mid-range shots and finishes at the rim.
Traudt was a big part of Grand Island’s quick start as he scored the team’s first seven points including two triples right off the bat. He scored half the team’s 26 points in the first half, then upped that to 15 of the team’s 22 points in the second.
Strength in Numbers
Elkhorn South probably doesn’t have anybody who will push for all-state honors at the end of the season, but what Coach Nolan Reilly does have is a lot of quality basketball players with their own unique strengths. That depth played a big role on Saturday.
Senior forward Parker Spann, a starter in the frontcourt, dealt with foul trouble all game and finished with just three points. However, fellow senior Henry Burt stopped up off the bench and put up 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting plus four rebounds. The Storm attempted more shots from the arc than inside, but Burt provided a strong post presence that balanced out the offense.
In total, the Storm got 31 points off their bench including eight apiece from juniors Caden Stone and Evan Werner. Stone knocked down a big 3 just before the halftime to give Elkhorn South its five-point lead at the break, and he added another 3 and a finish in transition in the third quarter.
Cole Ballard, last season’s starting point guard, was in street clothes coming off the football season, but junior Jackson Moeller Swan filled in admirably as the starter, doing a bit of everything with four points, five rebounds, four assists, zero turnovers, three steals and two blocks.
Senior Chase Anderson, the starting shooting guard, shot 3-of-4 from deep and finished with 12 points and three assists as the Storm dished out 15 assists on 24 buckets and turned the ball over just four times (three of which came in the fourth with the Storm leading by 20-plus).
Saturday was a terrific overall team effort from Elkhorn South.
On an Island
Traudt finished with 28, but Elkhorn South made him work incredibly hard to get this points as most of his shot attempts carried an incredibly high degree of difficulty. That was because Grand Island’s second leading scorer had just five points.
Elkhorn South fronted in the post and swarmed him on every touch and dissuaded the other Islanders from feeding Traudt in the post for much of the game. Traudt’s teammates shot 2-of-9 from 3, and that’s just not enough to keep defenses honest and make life easier for Traudt.
St. Paul transfer Andy Poss will likely provide some much-needed offensive punch once he becomes eligible in January, but until then the team will need others to step up more than they did on Saturday.
The game between Elkhorn South and Grand Island determined third place in their pod after both lost at the buzzer Thursday night.
First, Lincoln East won at Elkhorn South, 62-60, after junior guard Carter Templemeyer drove in and scored with two seconds left, part of his team-high 17 points.
Omaha Creighton Prep went to Grand Island and won by the same score as well as the Junior Jays forced a turnover with the game tied and senior guard Martel Evans laid the ball in at the buzzer, part of his team-high 19 points.
After Elkhorn South took down Grand Island, Creighton Prep and Lincoln East squared off to determine the pod champion. The host Spartans led most of the way, but the Junior Jays rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to tie it up in the fourth, and on the final possession senior Shawn Ramachandran buried a 3 in the final seconds to give Prep the 54-51 win.
No better way to head home to the Heider. See you next Friday as the Jr. Jays take on Omaha Northwest! pic.twitter.com/MNIlNYqytT
— CP Sports Network (@CPVarsitySports) December 5, 2021
Ramachandran played on the JV team as a sophomore, but he missed the last two summers and his junior season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and his family situation. Now he’s back, though, and hit a game-winner in his second varsity game.
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.