On Tuesday, Lincoln North Star survived a fourth-quarter rally from Papillion-La Vista South to extend its winning streak to four with a 78-75 victory.
The stars for both teams shone bright with four 20-point performances, two for each side. North Star jumped out to a 20-12 lead after one but Papio South rallied to take a 31-30 lead at halftime. The third quarter featured four ties before back-to-back 3s put the Gators ahead and North Star led 53-48 after 3.
The Navigator lead swelled all the way up to 13 before the Titans rallied to make it a two-point game. North Star split a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three then prevented Papio South from getting a look off at the buzzer to seal the win.
Here are five thoughts on the high-scoring showdown in Lincoln.
Navigators Have Found their Way
North Star looked lost early in the season, losing four of its first five games with the only win coming against a Lincoln Northeast team that had gone winless the previous season.
After Tuesday’s win, the Gators have won four straight, six of their last seven (the only loss in overtime to Omaha Creighton Prep) and 11 of their last 14. At 12-7, North Star has the second-best record among Class A teams in Lincoln behind only Lincoln East (14-4), and the Gators just beat the Spartans last week.
After a rough start, North Star has righted the ship and is on a course for the postseason.
Patience is a Virtue
There’s no question that 2020 Nebraska commit Donovan Williams can shoot the ball. He had a ridiculous six-game stretch that saw him go 30-of-58 from 3 including a school record-tying seven triples in one of those games. I’ve seen him hit from NBA range multiple times this season.
However, he’s attempting 8.7 3s per game while shooting just 34.2 percent on the season. He’s attempted eight or more 3s in 16 of his 19 games this season including six double-digit attempt games. He’s shot better than 33.3 percent in just two of those six double-digit games.
On Tuesday, Williams was just 2-of-11 from deep. Several of those 3s were from way downtown and most of them were early in possessions. There’s no need for that. At 6-foot-5 with next-level athleticism, Williams is a hard guard for anybody at the high school level and should be able to get to the rim at will. Thanks to those 11 3-point attempt, Williams shot just 5-of-16 from the field but still got to 25 points thanks to the foul line where he shot 13-of-18.
North Star doesn’t have a ton of scoring threats around Williams, but they’ve been playing pretty well offensively recently. Williams doesn’t need to settle nearly as often as he does from 3. There’s no shot clock at the high school level. If Williams moves the ball a bit more, trusts his teammates and has patience, a better look from the perimeter or driving lanes should present themselves slater in the possession and Williams will be even more difficult to slow down.
2020 #Nebrasketball commit @DonovanW_ finished with 25 points, 5 assists and the game-sealing strip in Lincoln North Star's 78-75 win against Papillion-La Vista South. #nebpreps pic.twitter.com/pTVB8uK1PQ
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) February 6, 2019
Look Out for Lök
Papillion-La Vista senior forward Lök Wur is one of the toughest match-ups in the state and he proved that once again on Tuesday. Wur put up a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line with 12 rebounds, three blocks, one assist and one steal. He’s got nine double-doubles and nine games of 20 or more points.
At 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan and a 32-inch standing vertical, Wur ahas the length and athleticism to dominate the glass and finish around the rim at a high rate. Combine the physical tools with his above-averaging ball-handling ability and quick first step and he’s a match-up nightmare when facing up against most of the big men in the state. He threw down couple of highlight reel dunks on Tuesday with a one-handed reverse as well as a two-handed tip-slam off his own miss, showcasing his quick second jump.
War’s biggest weakness is ball security as he has 11 games this season with four or more turnovers including five on Tuesday. If he can clean that up, he’s got a bright future for sure.
Mattley the Marksman
Papillion-La Vista South junior guard Jared Mattley isn’t having the type of year he’s capable of from beyond the arc, but he reminded everyone in attendance on Tuesday night that he’s one of the best pure shooters in the state.
Mattley hit five 3-pointers in the first half, including a deep one just before the halftime buzzer that gave Papio South a one-point lead, and was 6-of-8 overall for the game. He finished with a season-high 25 points.
Trailing by three in the final seconds, Papio South put the ball in his hands. North Star coach Tony Quattrocchi was calling for the Gators to foul before Mattley could get a look off, but the players apparently didn’t hear. Mattley pushed it up the floor to the top of the key and rose up for the tie, but Donovan Williams got his hand in there and cleanly knocked it free before he could get the shot off, allowing North Star to dodge a bullet.
Mattley is capable of hitting shots off the catch, off the dribble and running off screens and he has deep range as well. He shot 37 percent on high volume and high difficulty, and I think that is much closer to his real talent than the 34 percent he’s at right now.
All Aboard the Allick Hype Train
Lincoln North Star senior forward Josiah Allick is on an absolute tear right now. After scoring just three points in a foul-filled game against Creighton Prep, Allick has been all but unstoppable for North Star’s opponents.
On Tuesday, the 6-foot-7 forward put up 23 points on 7-of-10 from the field and 8-of-9 from the line, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block. Over his last four, Allick is averaging 21.8 points on 84 percent from the field (including 3-of-4 from 3) and 80.6 percent from the foul line, 10 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
Allick was goo through the first three quarters, but he was the best player on the floor in the fourth. He totaled 12 in the period and made a handful of other huge plays. Allick knocked down two 3-pointers to open the fourth, covered a three-point play then set up sophomore Kwat Abdelkarim for a corner triple, giving North Star a 65-52 lead a minute-and-a-half into the final period. Later, Allick blocked a layup from Mattley as well as a steal that led to a trip to the free-throw line where he hit both shots.
Allick also gave Wur a run for his money for dunk of the night with a blow-by using his quick first step and a strong finish above the rim. Allick is only averaging 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds this season, but he’s capable of going off for 20 and 10 in any given game (or 27 and 17 like he had against Papillion-La Vista last week).
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.