The 2017-18 high school boys basketball season came to an end over the weekend as champions were crowned in all six classes, and one of those champions – the York Dukes – featured a couple of future Huskers.
In fact, there were several Nebraska storylines throughout the three-day tournament as a handful of future Huskers — in multiple sports — made an impact for their high school hoops teams.
The Dukes wrapped up a 27-1 season with a 61-56 double-overtime come-from-behind win over Omaha Skutt, marking the second state title this year for the Dukes after they also beat Skutt in the state football championship. Among the players on both teams were 2019 football commit Garrett Snodgrass and 2018 preferred walk-on commit Simon Otte.
Snodgrass, who also competes on the track team, said playing multiple sports has had a big impact on his development.
“I think it’s helped me a lot, definitely,” Snodgrass said. “Track — building my speed and my strength and my athleticism. Basketball — just building continuity with my teammates, side-to-side movement, coordination and all that stuff. I just love competing.”
Speaking of competing, Otte personifies that competitiveness. The 6-foot-1 wing was a do-it-all star on the gridiron but is a glue guy for the basketball team. He averaged 3.3 points off the bench this season. However, Otte was one of the team’s most valuable players in York’s semifinal win over Bennington.
Otte was the hardest-working player on the floor, diving on the floor to secure multiple loose balls and taking on the assignment of shutting down Bennington’s go-to scorers down the stretch.
“He’s incredible,” York coach Scott Lamberty said. “He’s not going to score a lot and he knows it; he’s fine with that. He’s in to defend and he’s such an energy guy that he gets on the floor after loose balls, he can guard people off the screens, off the dribble. He’s just a physical, tough kid and he brings you that mentality, and the kids feed off of it.”
Junior Brady Danielson, York’s leading scorer, said playing with Otte is “awesome.”
“He doesn’t care if he scores 10 points or if he doesn’t score at all,” Danielson said. “He’s always going to be the first one on the floor, always going to get those loose balls. It’s awesome playing with a kid like him.”
As for Snodgrass, he struggled with foul trouble in the first two games but he managed to stay on the floor in the title game and put up 13 points and nine rebounds.
The tournament didn’t end quite as well for the rest of the future Huskers, unfortunately.
The only player set to actually play basketball at Nebraska is Platteview center Brady Heiman. The Trojans had a tremendous regular season, going 24-2, but got blown out by Gretna in the first round of the Class B finals. Four long years on varsity building up to that moment and it was suddenly over, far sooner than anyone expected.
“I’m going to remember these guys forever,” Heiman said about his teammates before trailing off as he fought back emotions.
With his high school career coming to a close, the next stop for Heiman is Lincoln.
“I’m going to take a week off here and then I’ll hit the weight room, hit skill work and I’ll just start it all up again,” Heiman said.
Oddly enough, another future Husker, preferred walk-on commit Joseph Johnson, had a big hand in sending Heiman and the Trojans home early. Johnson, a 6-foot-4 forward, was a match-up nightmare for Platteview with his ability to step out and knock down 3s as well as put the ball on the deck and attack the basket to make plays for himself and others. Johnson finished with 20 points and three assists for the Dragons against Platteview.
“Joe’s a really good player,” Gretna coach Brad Feekin said. “A lot of people don’t know it, but Joe’s a really good player and he’s done a lot of good things in his career. He hit the game-winner last year, played as a sophomore, he’s been down here. These lights aren’t too big for Joe.”
Unfortunately for the Dragons, their offense dried up in the semifinals as Gretna lost to Skutt.
The Yutan Chieftains, featuring Nebraska football preferred walk-on commit Colton Feist, also lost in the semifinals to Hastings St. Cecilia, the eventual runner-up in Class C-2. Feist put up a pair of double-doubles in the first two rounds before finishing his career with eight points as Yutan dropped the third-place game to BRLD.
Two other players with Husker ties took part in this year’s state tournament, but stay tuned to Hail Varsity this week for more on them.
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.