5 Thoughts on Omaha Skutt at Omaha Roncalli
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

5 Thoughts on Omaha Skutt at Omaha Roncalli

January 11, 2020

The last time Omaha Roncalli and Omaha Skutt squared off, the Crimson Pride pulled out a big win in a thriller on the SkyHawks’ home court. This year’s meeting at Roncalli went the other way, however, as Skutt jumped out to a big lead early and controlled the action throughout thanks to a dominant defensive showing.

Skutt led 18-7 after one, 29-14 at halftime and 43-23 after three quarters en route to the 21-point victory.

Here are five thoughts on the game.

Kings of the Class

The reigning champion in Class B has made the leap to Class A after last season, which means the field is wide open this season. Skutt (a semifinalist) and Roncalli (the state runner-up) are two of the teams that brought a lot back.

The Crimson Pride dropped to 6-3 on Friday and have some things to figure out. The SkyHawks, on the other hand, are 10-0 with wins over Elkhorn Mt. Michael, Bennington and now Roncalli and they’re beating teams by almost 26 points per game.

The only other undefeated team in Class B is Hastings, also at 10-0. The Tigers have a talented squad, and their record includes a win over a 10-1 Scottsbluff team that made state last season as well. Friday’s game against Mt. Michael (8-1) got rescheduled because of the snow; that one would have told us a lot.

As it stands, and based on what I’ve seen defensively in two games from the SkyHawks, I’d give them the nod as the favorite in Class B.

Star Showdown

Skutt senior Tyson Gordon and Roncalli senior Jack Dotzler have known each other for a long time and have competed with and agains each other countless times over the years. Dotzler got the better of Gordon in last year’s game, but Gordon returned the favor on Friday.

The North Dakota State football signee flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting (3-of-7 from 3), 12 rebounds and seven assists. 

Dotzler scored the first six points of the second quarter with a 3 and a tough and-one, hitting a jumper with Gordon hanging from his arm (the two guarded each other most of the night despite Gordon being 6-foot-3 and Dotzler being 5-foot-10). 

From there, however, Skutt hit Roncalli with an 11-0 run included back-to-back 3s from Gordon. At the end of the third quarter, he pulled up and splashed a shot at the buzzer from one step inside the halfcourt line. In the fourth, he had a pair of layups and three dimes to junior forward Luke Skar who finished with 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting and eight boards.

Dotzler did all he could for the Crimson Pride. He assisted on all three of Roncalli’s first-quarter field goals then tried to take over himself when it was clear that shots weren’t falling for other guys. He finished with 14 points and was 2-of-5 from 3 (Roncalli was 3-of-14 as a team). He’s headed to play at Morningside next year.

Tough Matchup

I wrote about Skutt’s defense after it’s season-opening win at Mt. Michael, and it was the story again on Friday against the Crimson Pride. The truth is Skutt is just a really tough match-up for a really small Roncalli squad.

Skutt goes 5-foot-10, 5-foot-10, 6-foot-1, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4 in the starting lineup with 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-5 as the first two guys off the bench. Roncalli basically starts five guards including four players 6-foot or shorter. Sophomore Jake Orr, at 6-foot-2, is the tallest player on the floor for Roncalli most of the game.

Skutt’s length caused problems for Roncalli all game long as the Crimson Pride shot 11-of-31 (35.5%) inside the arc. Skutt blocked at least four shots at the rim (two by Skar and two by reserve forward Bradley Paragas) and altered several more.

To win this match-up, Roncalli had to shoot the lights out from the perimeter. Instead the SkyHawks doubled them up from 3 and also dominated in the paint.

Someone has the Step Up

Dotzler did all he could on Friday, but he didn’t get much help on the offensive end. Senior guard Taiden Red, one of the stars of Roncalli’s run to the title game last season and a Midland basketball commit, was face-guarded and denied the ball all game long. He finished with six points on three layups, and he had to really earn each of those buckets as they were of a very high degree of difficulty. He’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the state and only got off two looks from deep, both of them tough.

If teams are going to defend Red that way, someone else has to step up and take advantage of the spacing and less help defense that creates. The other three starters combined for 20 points on 5-of-24 shooting. They Crimson Pride got just two points off the bench, and those came in garbage time after both teams had sent in their reserves. That’s not going to cut it. 

For Roncalli to compete with the best in Class B, someone else is going to have to step up offensively. They don’t need the other guys to be stars necessarily, but they do have to convert their opportunities, whether that be shots at the rim or open jumpers, and they’ve got to do the little things as well to make life a little easier for Dotzler and Red on offense.

Best in the State

This is my seventh season covering high school basketball, and in that time I’ve visited a heck of a lot of gym’s and sampled my fair share of concessions stand food. I haven’t found any school in the state who does it better than Roncalli.

Even with the snow coming down, I made sure to get out to Roncalli early to try something new before the varsity game began. I went with the pulled pork mac-and-cheese, which proved to be a terrific choice.

There isn’t a concessions stand anywhere with more variety than what you’ll find at Roncalli. After I tweeted out that picture if my dinner I got a handful or responses with people sharing their favorite menu items. From burgers to brisket to meatball subs to gyros and plenty more, Roncalli has something for everyone. If you haven’t been to Roncalli for a game, I’d suggest correcting hat before the end of the season.

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