A couple weeks back, Omaha Creighton Prep went to Omaha Westside and the Warriors ran them off the floor. On Tuesday night, the Junior Jays took on another of the state’s top teams as Millard North visited the Heider Center, and it wasn’t looking good for the host team early.
After Prep scored first, Millard North answered with a 14-0 run fueled by Junior Jay turnovers. Instead of folding, however, Creighton Prep settled in and rallied to take the lead, and the teams traded blows throughout the last three-and-a-half quarters as it went down to the final possession.
Millard North pulled ahead by three in the final 10 seconds and then held on for the 60-57 win as Prep got a good look from the top of the key at the buzzer that didn’t fall.
Here are five thoughts on the game.
Coming up Clutch
Creighton signee Jasen Green is having a phenomenal senior season, and it continued on Tuesday as he came up clutch for the Mustangs on both ends of the floor en route to his 13th double-double of the season.
The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, 12 rebounds (four offensive), six blocks and four assists against the Junior Jays. Offensively, he went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the final minute to give the Mustangs a pair of three-point leads.
Defensively, Green forced a couple of misses at the rim with vertical challenges in the fourth, and then he remained disciplined on the perimeter and didn’t bite on a pump-fake as the shooter tried to bait him into a foul, forcing a bad 3-point attempt that didn’t have a chance. Between the shots he blocked and the ones he altered, Green was the biggest reason Prep shot under 50% inside the arc.
Green is leading the state at 4.2 blocks per game this season in addition to averaging a double-double, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is 2.4, a terrific number for a player of his size and position.
Green wasn’t the only big-time big man in the game on Tuesday. Creighton Prep senior Luke Jungers, an Omaha signee, finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-12 from the field (3-of-5 from 3) and 2-of-2 from the line with seven rebounds and one block.
Jungers is the only reason Prep didn’t get run off the floor as he scored the team’s first nine points and 16 of its first 18. He didn’t miss a shot in the first half. The 6-foot-8 senior scored inside and out, going right into the body of Green — one of the best defenders in the state — in the post as well as stepping out and knocking down shots from the perimeter.
Omaha assistant Tyler Erwin was in the building for Junger’s senior night, and the Maverick pledge showed out with one of his best performances of the season considering his efficiency and the level of competition.
Millard North senior David Harmon is one of the most explosive players in the state, and he can put up points in a hurry when he gets into a rhythm. On Tuesday, the 6-foot-3 guard finished with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting (2-of-3 from 3), nine rebounds (four offensive) and four assists.
Twelve of those points came in the second quarter as he took over once Prep started to make its comeback. He was quiet in the second half until the last two minutes. After four straight empty possessions, Harmon pressured the ball and poked it away from a Junior Jay from behind, leaking out and receiving the pass for a layup that gave the Mustangs the lead for good.
Harmon is an athletic guard who goes hard to the rim and has a quick second jump. He rebounded his own miss and put it back up before the defense had a chance to react at least three times on Tuesday.
Harmon’s breakout year and Green’s step forward are the biggest reasons the Mustangs are once again among Class A’s best despite losing three Division I players from last year’s state champion.
Salute to the Seniors
Tuesday was Prep’s senior night; the Junior Jays will close out the regular season at Omaha Central on Saturday night.
Prep honored 12 senior players before the game, three of which were not in uniform because of season-ending injuries.
Aidan Miller first tore his ACL near the end of the summer between his sophomore and junior year. He returned to play last summer but almost immediately tore his ACL again, ending his high school career before he even got a chance to play at the varsity level.
Jadon Gbetanou played JV for Prep as a junior, and he was primed to start alongside Jungers in the frontcourt after a strong summer and fall. Unfortunately, he also suffered a season-ending knee injury at the end of fall league, delivering another crushing blow to the Junior Jays.
Shawn Ramachandran was a JV starter as a sophomore, but once the pandemic hit, he had to take a break from basketball because of his family situation. He missed his 16U and 17U summers of AAU as well as his junior season of high school ball. Ramachandran, a do-it-all wing, got cleared to return to the court as a senior, but he didn’t even make it to the Holiday Tournament as he went down with a season-ending injury of his own after just six games.
Prep is still a top-10 team in the state even with the injuries, but they’d be an even more formidable squad at full strength. The team’s depth has been ravaged by those injuries as well as another to an underclassman who would have factored into the rotation (Prep’s starting five played the vast majority of the minutes and scored 100% of their points on Tuesday). I feel for those three in particular that had their senior seasons taken from them, but they’re still part of the team, encouraging their teammates from the bench.
Millard North’s biggest weakness might be it’s 3-point shooting. The Mustangs are shooting 29% from deep this season with six of their top eight shooting below 30%. The outlier is sophomore Neal Mosser who is shooing 40.6% on 4.4 attempts per game.
Mosser came up big on Tuesday, shooting 4-of-5 from deep for 12 points. He knocked down two triples during the 14-0 run in the first quarter, then he hit another one after Prep had tied it up at 39-all early in the third quarter.
His biggest hit came in the fourth quarter, however, as Prep scored six straight to pull ahead by three three minutes into the period. On the ensuing Millard North possession, the Junior Jays cut off Harmon’s driving lane and the senior kicked it out to Mosser in the corner. He let it fly with no hesitation and buried it despite getting fouled as a defender closed out on him late.
Mosser missed the free throw, but it was still a big shot considering the Junior Jays were poised to take control of the game with one more stop and bucket. Mosser had four of Millard North’s six 3s, and a couple of them were from well beyond the high school arc.
The Mustangs are going to need Mosser to knock down shots if they want to make a run at the state title, and he is certainly capable of doing so.
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.