Millard North avenged a Metro Holiday Tournament semifinal loss in another thriller with Omaha Creighton Prep on Tuesday, pulling away from the Junior Jays in overtime for a 69-62 victory.
Here are five thoughts on the game.
Millard North struggled to hit shots in the first half while Creighton Prep had a tough time generating easy buckets. The teams went into halftime tied at 28-all.
Then a switch seemed to flip in the second half, producing some high-level offensive basketball. The teams combined to shoot 60% from the field with three total turnovers in the second half. I’m sure the coaches wren’t thrilled with the level of defense, but it was sure fun to watch from the stands.
The first seven possessions of the third quarter produced points. Dillon Claussen attacked off the dribble for an interior bucket, then Derek Rollins went back at him in the post for a hook. Clausen kicked the ball out to Joey Rieschl for a 3, then Rollins did the same to Camden Monie. Emmett Knight got to the rim for a Prep bucket, then Rollins went to work inside for another bucket. Claussen put a cap on the scoring streak with a shot-clock beating layup to put Prep up 37-35.
Prep got the first stop of the period, forcing a travel, but Millard North made a big surge to end the quarter on an 8-2 run and take a four-point lead into the fourth.
Millard North hit half its shots including a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter. Prep countered by going 6-for-10 including 4-for-7 from deep. The lead changed hands four times in the final two minutes, leading to a one-point Millard North lead with less than 3 seconds to play. Prep attacked the basket and Marquis Toliver earned a trip to the foul line with 6.3 to go. He missed the first, but after a Millard North timeout he gathers himself and sank the second shot to tie it up.
Millard North got a good look at the buzzer, but the shot didn’t fall, sending it to overtime.
After trading buckets to start overtime, Prep went cold and the Mustangs used a 9-0 run to secure victory. Even so, Millard North shot over 50% from the field while Prep connected on 40% of its 3s.
Big Man Battle
The man in the middle leads both teams in scoring this season, and they both played well on Tuesday.
Rollins, the 6-foot-4 sophomore for Millard North, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds while battling with the 6-foot-7 Claussen and 6-foot-6 sophomore Trinell Parker. It was his fifth double-double of the season.
Rollins had to spend the last few minutes of the first half on the bench after picking up his second foul, leading to a 6-2 finish for Prep to tie it up. Rollins came up big in the third quarter, however, and then stuck with it in overtime after getting stopped on his first two shot attempts and blocked on his third, following up the last miss for a go-ahead three-point play with two minutes remaining.
As for Claussen, he scored 16 points on 6-for-8 from the field (including an off-balance 3 at the end with Prep in desperation mode) and 4-for-6 from the foul line. He displayed a well-rounded offensive game, scoring both on drives to the basket and moves in the post.
However, Rollins won the battle of the boards definitively as Claussen finished with one defensive rebound (to Rollins’ three offensive), and second-chance points ended up playing a big role in the Mustang win.
The play of the game for Millard North on Tuesday was junior Camden Monie, a 6-foot-2 wing more comfortable working in the post than handling the ball on the perimeter. Millard North liked his match-up and went to him early and often as he finished with a career-high 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting (including 2-for-3 from deep).
Monie typically makes his contributions as a hard-nosed defender and physical rebounder, only attempting 4.2 shots per game heading into Tuesday. But he made some big plays against prep including the go-ahead three-point play with 31.3 remaining in regulation.
Monie had a great game, but Tuesday’s leading scorer was Prep senior Joey Rieschl. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-10 from the field including 5-of-8 from deep and 2-for-2 at the line.
Rieschl is a streaky player, and when he’s hot and the Junior Jays are finding him, they can play with anyone. He has five games of four-plus 3s including his last three, and he has the ability to hit from well beyond the high school line.
Rieschl made one of the biggest plays of the game in the fourth quarter. With Millard North up one and roughly a minute to play, an errant pass went into the backcourt. Rollins showed good hustle trying to track it down for a steal, but he wasn’t able to secure it and the contact allowed Prep to recover it without a backcourt violation. Claussen tracked it down and passed it ahead to PJ Newbill, who looked to attack before pulling the ball out with the shot clock winding down. He throw it out to Rieschl up top who let it fly from the volleyball line, burying it to beat the buzzer and put Prep up 2 with 50 seconds to play.
Unfortunately, Prep didn’t get him a look in overtime and the Junior Jays came up short.
Millard North got a big boost off its bench from a pair of senior guards.
First, 5-foot-11 point guard Luke Davis scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting in the first half while rebounding his only miss. He had a really strong take to the rim at one point and also scored off a smart cut.
Davis logged a DNP-CD in Millard North’s second game of the season but has been working his way up the depth chart and earning more playing time. He’s a calming presence on offense who gets the team into its offense and applies pressure at the point of attack defensively.
Jacob Martin, a 6-foot-2 transfer from Omaha South, did not play int he first half. But when Coach Mike Etzelmiller called his number int he second half, he delivered, immediately getting downhill for a layup on his first touch. He went on to make his first four shots, finishing with eight points on 4-for-6 shooting and a pair of assists. He’s he one who found Monie for the go-ahead three-point play late in overtime.