Two of the top teams in Class B faced off on Friday night to close out the regular season as No. 2 Platteview pulled out a 49-48 win against No. 3 Crete at home to finish 19-4.
Here are five thoughts on the game.
Down to the Wire
Platteview got off to a great start, doubling up the Cardinals in the first quarter. However, Crete cut the deficit down to four at halftime before dominating the third quarter to take a seven-point lead into the fourth.
Crete slowed things down in the fourth, trying to run out the clock as it played with a lead. But Platteview battled back into it, pulling within one on a Trey Moseman 3 with less than three minutes to go.
Platteview forced a miss, but Mason Crumbliss scored a put-back to push it back to three. Twenty seconds later, Moseman found Connor Millikan for a 3 to tie it up at 46-all.
After running down some clock, Crete tried to get a shot up at the basket, but Moseman did a great job of staying vertical and forcing a miss. Millikan secured the rebound then took his time on the other end, probing and running clock until he drew a hand-check foul on a drive with 46.2 to play. He hit both free throws to put Platteview up a pair.
Crete ran its offense and got a clean look from 3 that didn’t go down, but Crumbliss had great position and skied for the offensive rebound, using one power dribble to cut through traffic before rising up for a left-handed half hook with 25 seconds to play.
Once again, Platteview coach Tim Brotzki opted to let his team go without a timeout, and once again Millikan took his time before ultimately drawing another foul with 6.4 to play. He made the first but missed the second, giving Crete one last chance.
Crumbliss cleared the board, pushed it up the floor, attacked the middle of the floor, spun back to his right and put up a floater from just below the right elbow at the buzzer that came up just a bit short.
Both teams played man-to-man in the first half. The Trojans put up 20 points in the first quarter and 34 in the half thanks to red-hot shooting from deep — 8-for-12 to be exact.
The Cardinals overcame a slow start to get hot themselves in the second quarter, hitting eight of their 11 shots including four 3s to get back in the game at 34-30.
What did Coach Tony Siske draw up to slow down the Trojans at halftime? A 2-3 zone, which seemed pretty risky with the way the Trojans were bombing away from deep.
But it worked.
Platteview shot 1-for-9 from the field and 1-for-3 from the foul line with three turnovers in the third quarter and Crete led 44-37 heading into the fourth. The zone continued to give Platteview problems as the Trojans continued misfiring from deep. They missed their first 10 3-point attempts of the second half before Moseman’s and Millikan’s back-to-back that tied the game.
If not for five fourth-quarter turnovers (as many as the Cardinals had in the first three quarters combined), Crete likely would have gone home victorious. The Cardinals went back into man-to-man at the end of the game and Millikan made them pay.
I was at the game early in the season when Millikan surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his career. Since then, he’s passed 27 of the 28 players who remained ahead of him on Nebraska’s all-time career scoring list.
With his 2,464 points and counting, Bill Holliday (Wilsonville, class of 1960) is the only one left ahead of him at 2,748 points. With only the postseason remaining, it appears that is where his climb will end (unless Platteview makes it to the Class B state championship and he averages like 60 points along the way).
Still, finishing his career as Class B’s all-time leading scorer is one heck of an accomplishment, especially considering he has 835 rebounds, 245 assists and 185 steals to go with the points.
Millikan finished with a game-high 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists while shooting 4-of-6 from 3 against Crete, which followed a 16-13-10 triple-double, a 27-16-6 double-double and a 27-10 double-double in the four games he’s played since suffering knee injury. He sat out one game, but otherwise has powered through the pain to play with his teammates.
A big reason Crete was able to get back in the game and take the lead was foul trouble for Millikan. He picked up two fouls (and a bloody nose) in the first quarter, then picked up two more in the first three and a half minutes of the third quarter. He played sparingly the rest of the period and Platteview did not score while he was on the bench.
Millikan managed to avoid picking up his fifth foul the rest of the way and he was on the court to make the winning free throw in the final 10 seconds.
Friday was my first look at the Cardinals, who have had a terrific season. Even with the loss they’re sitting at 17-5 and the No. 3 seed heading into the postseason.
What makes Crete so difficult to deal with is the makeup of the roster and the offensive system the Cardinals run. All five starters and three of the four reserves who saw the court are listed at 6-foot-3 or taller.
The team’s starting point guard, 6-foot-4 junior Aidan McDowell, posted up as often as he handled the ball on the perimeter while the two tallest Cardinals — junior Ben Ehlers and sophomore Justus Gardiner — each knocked down a pair of 3s at 6-foot-6.
Cretes offense is constant cutting and screening and posting where any of the five players could end up anywhere on the court at any time — and still be a threat.
Crumbliss, a 6-foot-4 senior, led the way with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting including 2-of-5 from 3 and 11 rebounds. McDowell added 14 points and four assists, he shot 2-for-4 from 3 and he attempted six of the team’s seven free throws, hitting four.
Millikan is going to put up numbers every single night (he’s averaging around 25 points and 10 rebounds this season), but in order to make a deep postseason run he’s going to need some help.
Millard South transfer Trey Moseman, went 3-for-7 from deep on Friday and scored right around his season average with 11 points. Fellow senior Alex Draper also scored right around his average with nine points, though he did that all in the first half. He just couldn’t get anything to fall in the second half.
Draper has averaged just north of 9.0 points per game in each of the past three seasons. He shot 42% from 3 as a sophomore, 37% as a junior and 34% this year. Basketball may be his second sport (he’s a Concordia baseball commit), but he’s capable of being an elite 3-point shooter (see his 30-point explosion on 10-for-12 from deep against Malcolm in December).
If Platteview wants to win a state title, it’s going to need a big game from Draper on the big stage to supplement the production from Millikan and Draper.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. 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.