Photo Credit: Jacob Padilla

5 Thoughts on Wednesday’s Subdistrict Finals at Omaha Skutt

February 24, 2022

Omaha Skutt played host to two spectacular subdistrict finals on Wednesday, though the SkyHawks came up on the short end in both of them to suffer their first losses of the season.

First, the Elkhorn North girls avenged their only loss of the season by knocking off the SkyHawks 62-60 on Britt Prince’s game-winner in the B-2 subdistrict final.

The boys followed it up with an overtime thriller as Omaha Roncalli knocked off the SkyHawks 57-54 to win the B-3 subdistrict final.

Here are five thoughts on a great night of high school hoops.

Superstar Shootout

The girls game featured two of the best sophomores in the state who also happens to be two of the best players regardless of class, and boy did they deliver the goods on Wednesday night.

Britt Prince, the Elkhorn North Star who already holds offers from nearly every big-time Division I school in the country, put up a game-high 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting (5-of-12 from 3) and 4-of-4 from the foul line, nine rebounds, four assists and one block. She also scored all 33 of those points in the last three quarters after missing all three of her shots in the first. Oh, and she also did this.

Prince scored Elkhorn North first nine points in the second quarter after the Wolves trailed 15-10 after one. Then, after shooting 1-of-5 from deep, she exploded for 16 of the team’s 21 (and assisted the only other bucket, a 3-pointer) while shooting 4-of-6 from 3. She calmly knocked down all four of her free throws in the fourth quarter after not attempting one in the first three and capped it off with the game-winner, which was not an easy shot.

On the other end, Peyton McCabe, the younger sister of Iowa commit and Fremont star Taylor McCabe, nearly matched Prince with 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting (6-of-10 from 3) and 2-of-3 from the line, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.

McCabe went 2-for-2 from 3 and scored eight points in the first to lead Skutt to the early lead, then she scored 10 more in the third with two more triples to keep Skutt in it as Prince took over. In the fourth she had a tough and-one, a 3, another layup and then drew a foul with 7 seconds left down by one. She hit the first free throw to tie the game, but the second one circled the rim and somehow popped back out, leaving to prince’s game-winner.

McCabe was already one of the best 3-point shooters in the state as a freshman last year, but this year she’s become more dynamic with the ball in her hands and the Wolves had a tough time staying in front of her no matter what defender they tried.

Offensive Clinic

Prince versus McCabe was spectacular and those two accounted for more than half the points scored on Wednesday, but it’s worth highlighting the performance of the teams as a whole. 

The combined 3-point shooting was a spectacular 20-of-38 (52.6%)and both teams finished with less than 10 turnovers. Roughly half he buckets were assisted while the other half were self-created, showing off a variety of different ways to score.

The Wolves were a respectable 8-of-20 from 3 but did their best work inside the arc as they converted 15 of their 21 2-point attempts as well as all eight of their free throws, which equals an absurd 69.6 true shooting percentage.

The SkyHawks were absolutely blistering from the perimeter, hitting 12 of their 18 3-point attempts. That somewhat offset their 8-of-19 shooting inside the arc and 8-of-15 shooting at the foul line. That equals a 68.8 true shooting percentage.

Reilly Palmer, a College of St. Mary commit, served as the second option for the Wolves, scoring 11 points and shooting 3-of-5 from deep. Junior center Hannah Nadgwick played an important role as well despite only scoring four points as she hit her only shot attempt (a mid-range jumper) and both of her free throws and also dished out four assists. 

As for the SkyHawks, senior Jesse Trout provided a big spark off the bench by hitting all three of her 3-point attempts for nine points. Sophomore Addison Burt matched her with nine points and went 2-for-2 from deep despite dealing with foul trouble for much of the game.

Third Time’s the Charm

On the boys side, Omaha Roncalli pushed the SkyHawks to the brink in their first meeting, a game that took place at the Lions’ Den while Skutt was missing one of its starters. Skutt pulled that one out in overtime. The SkyHawks handled the Crimson Pride without too much difficulty in round two when they faced off for the River Cities Conference Tournament championship.

This time, both teams were at full strength, and Roncalli got it done.

Late in the second quarter, the Crimson Pride trailed by nine after failing to convert a single field goal in the first seven minutes and change. Jake Orr finally got one to go with a spinning three-point play, cutting the halftime deficit to six at 28-22 despite Roncalli shooting 1-of-9 from the field and scoring just nine points against Skutt’s disciplined, intense defense.

Skutt used a 6-0 run to build a 10-point lead early in the third, but the Crimson Pride locked in on the defensive end the rest of the period, forcing seven Skutt turnovers and limiting the SkyHawks to eight total points to tie it up at 36-all heading into the fourth.

The fourth quarter featured five lead changes and a pair of ties as the teams battled back and forth. The final lead change came with about 40 seconds to play as senior Austin Schwarz knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Pride up 49-46, but the SkyHawks responded with a 4-1 run and then both teams came up empty on their final possession to send the game to overtime.

Skutt senior James Gninefou scored two tough buckets to open the fourth quarter, giving Skutt a 54-50 lead, but the SkyHawks didn’t score again as Roncalli closed the game on a 7-0 run with all seven points coming from the free-throw line.

Schwarz hit a pair of free throws with 31.1 to play to give Roncalli the lead then senior Quincy Evans stepped in and took a charge on what would have been the go-ahead bucket by Skutt junior Jake Brack with 2.5 to play. 

Roncalli got the ball in to Schwarz and he hit two free throws to use the lead to three with 1.7 to play then Evans blocked the 3-point prayer at the buzzer from Skutt.

Senior Jake Orr, a Midland commit, finished with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 from the field and 5-of-7 from the foul line, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. Schwarz added 15 points and three steals.

Value the Ball

Gninefou led Skutt with 20 points on 9-of-10 from the field (1-of-1 from 3) and 1-of-1 from the line, but after the two buckets to start overtime he fouled out, and the SkyHawks just couldn’t find a way to score without him.

Skutt shot 61.8% from the field including a ridiculous 18-of-22 inside the arc, but they attempted just 34 field goals and 15 free throws (hitting nine) compared to Roncalli’s 44 field goals and 25 free throws (the Pride hit just 17 of those field goals but 19 of the foul shots).

Skutt’s biggest problem on Wednesday night was turnovers as the SkyHawks finished with 19 turnovers compared to just seven for Roncalli. Neither side shot the ball particularly well from 3, but in the end volume won out over efficiency as the Crimson Pride pulled it out.

State Final Previews?

If I was a betting man, I’d put down some money on seeing these same four teams in the Class B state tournament finals in a couple weeks.

Despite the losses, Skutt moved on to the district finals as wildcards. The boys are the overall No. 1 seed while the girls are No. 2. Roncalli is No. 2 for the boys while Elkhorn North clinched the No. 1 seed for the girls with the win. Assuming chalk holds in the district finals, I’d assume we’ll see these teams as the top two seeds down in Lincoln.

If these four teams do make it all the way to the finals — and they’ll certainly have to earn it — it should set up some spectacular championship games. However, they’re going to have an incredibly high bar to clear if they want to top what I saw at Skutt on Wednesday because those two games were as good as I’ve seen all season and the atmosphere in that gym was terrific for both. 

Skutt’s quest for an undefeated season ended for both teams on Wednesday, but a state title is still very much within reach.

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