Saturday was a busy day in high school hoops in Nebraska. I hit up games in Elkhorn and in Fremont, caught the end of a game in Beatrice via a Striv Sports stream and saw the end of another thriller on Twitter.
Here are five thoughts on everything I saw Saturday.
Elkhorn South 62, Lincoln Northeast 46
Elkhorn South earned its best win of the season thus far on Saturday, and the Storm did so despite not getting its best from its best players.
Alec Noonan, one of the Metro’s top scorers who was shooting 50% from 3 heading into Saturday, recorded his first game without a triple this season, missing all five of his attempts and finishing with 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Evan Werner, the team’s second-leading scorer, missed all four of his shots and went scoreless in the first half. The Storm shot 7-for-24 from 3 overall.
Even so, Elkhorn South found a way take a halftime lead then ran away with it in the second half. Werner came alive with 15 points in the second half and Elkhorn South used aggressive defense to fuel its offense, outscoring the Rockets 39-26 in the second half and pushing the lead as high as 21 with a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Caden Stone was steady throughout, finishing with 14 points on 50% shooting and 4-of-5 from the line, six rebounds and a pair of assists. Point guard Jackson Moeller-Swan, normally content to run the offense and set up his teammates, finished with a season-high 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting including three triples, and he also dished out eight assists without a turnover.
Elkhorn South is now 8-3 on the season despite missing one of its senior starters since early December.
Ball Security is Key
Lincoln Northeast senior Christian Winn is one of the better isolation scorers in the state, capable of hitting contested jumpers and creating off the bounce on a consistent basis. He showed that again on Saturday, putting up a game-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting including 3-of-5 from deep. The 6-foot-5 senior also grabbed six boards and blocked two shots.
Senior point guard Jalen Lang is a physical player as well, powering up shots around the basket to finish with 13 points on 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line, and he grabbed seven rebounds as well.
However, it wasn’t enough to overcome 18 turnovers, a handful of which led directly to Elkhorn South breakaway buckets. Between offensive fouls, travels and steals, Northeast did not play a clean game at all. Elkhorn South only gave it away nine times, and the result was 13 more shooting possessions in total for the Storm.
Archbishop Bergan 64, North Bend Central 35
Twin Towers Tough to Handle
Bergan raced out to a 14-2 lead in Fremont and never looked back on Saturday, improving to 7-4 on the car with a blowout win.
The secret to the Knights success was their size advantage. They started two 6-foot-4 juniors in Logan Eggen and Alec Wendt, and North Bend Central — who didn’t start a player over 6-foot-1 — simply couldn’t match up.
Eggen had a monster game, finishing with 22 points on 8-of-11 from the field (3-f-5 from 3) and 3-of6 from the free-throw line and 12 rebounds including five on the offensive end. His ability to both score inside and step out and knock down perimeter shots makes him a tough cover at the C-2 level.
Wendt added 12 point and eight rebounds (four offensive). Bergan had nearly as many offensive rebounds (10) as North Bend Central did defensive (12). With the big guys doing most of the work, Begran didn’t even need much from its senior leader Max Nosal, who chipped in seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, about half his season average.
Junior Kyler Hellbusch led the Tigers with 21 points, but he didn’t get much help as the second-leading scorer finished with just six points.
The annual MUDECAS Tournament, held at the Beatrice City Auditorium, produced a thriller of a championship in the boys A division this year. I caught the last five minutes of the game via Striv’s stream of the game, and I’m glad I did.
Tri County, who handed Class C2 No. 1 Freeman its first loss of the season earlier in the tournament, raced out to a 16-point lead early in the game.
Lincoln Parkview Christian, the reigning Class D2 champion, chipped away at the deficit throughout the game, finally taking its first lead with four minutes to play.
Tri County didn’t crumble, though. Carter Seems finished a floater through contact to put the Trojans back up by one with 30 seconds to play. An off-target pass on the other end pinballed around until Braden Strouf managed to secure it then pass it off to Siems, who had the presence of mind to launch the ball downcourt to Caden Bales running free for a breakaway layup to put Tri County up by three.
Parkview got an open look from the top of the key for the tie, but it didn’t go down and Andrew Sasse secured the victory at the free-throw line, celebrating the first make with a big fist pump before also hitting the second to close out the 59-54 victory.
Siems is having a big senior season, averaging around 19 points per game, and he led the Trojans once again in the victory.
Lincoln East Got Mossed
Perhaps the best game of the day took place in the Stable at Millard North. The Mustangs pulled out a 63-62 win in an overtime thriller against Lincoln East to improve to 11-2 and had the Spartans their first loss outside the city of Lincoln.
East led 48-43 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Mustangs held the Spartans to six points in the final eight minutes of regulation, tying it up and sending the game to overtime at 54-all.
The teams went back and forth in the extra period with East taking a 62-61 lead into the final minute. Needing a bucket, Millard North put the ball in the hands of junior Neal Mosser. Known more for his perimeter shooting and passing abilities, Mosser put the ball on the deck, turned the quarter and threw up a floater off the glass and in for the go-ahead bucket.
— Mr. Starks (@APStarksMNHS) January 15, 2023
Millar North got a stop on the other end to seal the victory, spoiling a 31-point effort from East junior Carter Mick.
Millard North overcame 24% shooting from 3, 17 turnovers and starting point guard Elijah Gaeth fouling out early in overtime to pick up the impressive win one week after Omaha Westside ran them off the floor on their own court.
The Mustangs put four players in double figures in Gaeth and Derek Rollins with 15 apiece, Skylen Williams with 13 (including three of Millard North’s six 3s) and 10 from Mosser.
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.