Every year around this time, the now 18 teams in the Metro Athletic Conference get together for the Metro Holiday Tournament at Ralston Arena. On the boys side, the action got underway on Thursday with two play-in games and then ramped up on Saturday with the full eight-game first round.
Here’s a running recap of the day’s action.
No. 4 Bellevue West 67. No. 13 Omaha Benson 57
A year after taking Omaha Creighton Prep to overtime in the first round of the tournament, the Omaha Benson Bunnies ad upset on the mind against the Thunderbirds. The Bunnies led most of the way, building up a 13-point advantage at halftime.
However, Wisconsin commit Chucky Hepburn had other plans. Behind the junior point guards, the Thunderbirds came storming back, closing the game on a 16-2 run and winning the fourth quarter 27-7 overall.
After missing Bellevue West’s previous four games with a concussion, Hepburn returned to the lineup and showed some signs of rust early as he shot 2-of-13 from the field in the first three quarters.
He came alive in the fourth quarter, however, scoring 12 of his 21 on 4-of-5 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line, and he chipped in a couple assists and a couple of steals for good measure. He finished with six assists, five steals and four boards to go with his 21 points.
With Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen and assistant Pat Eberhart in the crowd, 2021 Maverick target Frankie Fidler matched Hepburn with 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. He grabbed nine board,s eight of which were on the offensive end. His older brother Louis Fidler scored 11 of his 16 in the second half.
Bellevue West: 13-13-14-27 — 67
Omaha Benson: 17-22-11- 7 — 57
BW: Chucky Hepburn 21, Frankie Fidler 21, Louis Fidler 16, Trey Hepburn 4, John Shanklin 4, Nate Glantz 3
OB: Anthony Ignowski 14, Denim Johnson 13, Marcus Shakeer 12, Dylan Holston 10, CarDae Daniels 8
No. 5 Omaha Creighton Prep 65, No. 12 Gretna 48
The Juniors Jays were on fire from the opening tip, racing out to a 15-0 lead with six buckets by five different players before Gretna scored its first field goal. Prep led 25-12 after one and 41-21 at halftime after hitting seven of its first 10 3s and shooting 9-17 from deep overall in the first half.
The Junior Jays got sloppy in the fourth quarter and let the lead slip, but it was too little and too late for Gretna to truly threaten a comeback.
Prep had 17 assists on 22 field goals as 11 different players found the scoring column. Northwest Missouri State commit Spencer Schomers led the way with 20 points, shooting 6-of-9 from 3 and adding a two-handed slam for good measure. Junior forward AJ Rollins, a Nebraska football target, added eight points, eight board and two blocks.
Senior guard Ty Perkins gave Gretna a spark in the second half, scoring 15 of his team-high 18. He shot 6-of-8 from 3 overall and grabbed five boards.
Creighton Prep: 25-16-15- 9 — 65
Gretna: 12- 9-15-12 — 48
OCP: Spencer Schomers 20, AJ Rollins 8, Justin Sitti 6, Brendan Buckley 6, John Trainer 6, Mai’Jhe Wiley 5, Will Manhart 4, Jeff Koubsky 3, Alex Bullock 3, Luke Jungers 2, Alex Bullock 2
G: Ty Perkins 18, Clay Frost 17, Ely Doble 10, Grant Jansen 2, Trevor Marshall 1
No. 8 Papillion-La Vista 65, No. 9 Omaha Burke 48
Game three of the day was the Luke Lindenmeyer show as the 6-foot-4 sophomore scored Papio’s first 10 points en route to a career-high 25.
The Monarchs jumped out to a 10-2 lead, Burke pulled to within two at the end of the first, Papio pushed it back to nine at halftime and the Monarchs maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the second half.
Lindenmeyer shot 9-of-12 from the field including 2-of-3 from deep and 5-of-6 from the line. He added seven boards and three assists to his stat line. Fellow sophomore Kyle Ingwerson scored nine of his 13 in the second quarter. The Monarchs held the Bulldogs under 32% shooting for the game.
Papillion-La Vista: 15-17-18-15 — 65
Omaha Burke: 12-11-14-11 — 48
PLV: Luke Lindenmeyer 25, Kyle Ingwerson 13, Joey Hylok 9, Preston Kellogg 8, Chase Lett 8, Owen McLaughlin 2
OB: Jaren Marshall 11, Greg Brown 9, Chris Graham 8, David Moreano 7, Jon Reinke 7, Donovan Moody 2, Aidan Queen 2, Lukas Kocher 2
No. 1 Omaha Central 75, No. 17 Elkhorn South 46
The top-seeded Omaha Central Eagles overwhelmed the Storm almost from the tip, using a full-court press and stiff on-ball pressure in the halfcourt to set the tone en route to a near 30-point victory.
Elkhorn South shot 35% from the field and turned the ball over 21 times, 13 of which were Omaha Central steals.
Central’s starting backcourt dazzled with a combined 46 points on 15-of-24 shooting. Latrell Wrightsell Jr. led the way with 28 points on 8-of-14 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3 and 10-of-10 from the foul line while Max Polk added 18 points on 7-of-10 sooting including 2-of-3 from deep.
Wayne State commit Zach LaFave spent much of the first half on the bench with foul trouble and finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Ashton Allison shot 4-of-8 from 3 and added 13 points off the South bench.
Omaha Central: 24-19-14-18 — 75
Elkhorn South: 14-11- 7-14 — 46
OC: Latrell Wrightsell Jr. 28, Max Polk 18, Jay Dawson 8, PJ Davis 7, Jakson Page 6, Faisaun Germany 4, Deng Diew 2, Abe Hoskins III 2
ES: Zach LaFave 13, Ashton Allison 13, Max Mosser 9, Teddy Prochazka 6, , Tate Odvody 3, Redi Nelson 2
>> Play-in game — No. 17 Elkhorn South 67, No. 16 Omaha Bryan 51: Zach LaFave did a bit of everything with 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks while 2021 Nebraska football commit Teddy Prochazka added 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, six rebounds and two blocks as the Storm topped the Bears on Thursday afternoon. Jai’Lyn Spears had 23 points to lead Bryan.
No. 3 Omaha South 61, No. 14 Millard South 49
The Packers locked up defensive in the second quarter to build a 31-20 halftime lead and Ty Griggs and Skyler Wilson accounted for all 17 of Omaha South’s fourth-quarter point to stave off a late Millard South rally as the Packers beat the Patriots by 12.
Eleven of Griggs’ game-high 18 points came in the fourth quarter including a late alley-oop while Wilson scored six of his 13, hitting all four of his free throws to close it out. Wayne State commit Jay Saunders finished with 17 for the Packers on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-4 from 3) and four assists.
Trevor Albert and Jack Cooper each scored 14 points for the Patriots and they combined for five blocks, but the next-highest scorer was sophomore Gage Stenger with seven points, five steals and four assists.
Omaha South: 15-16-13-17 — 61
Millard South: 12- 8- 9-20 — 49
OS: Ty Griggs 18, Jay Saunders 17, Skyler Wilson 13, RaShawn McNeal-Lee 11, Ja’Dyn McGary 2
MS: Trevor Albert 14, Jack Cooper 14, Gage Stenger 7, Blake Stenger 5, Michael Harding 4, Tre Mungin 3, Braden Cannon 2
No. 11 Papillion-La Vista South 61, No. 6 Omaha Westside 60
This one proved to be the best game of the day. Westside blitzed Papio South right out of the gates, jumping out to a 12-4 lead, but that was the most separation either team managed to create all game.
Papio South turned the tables with an 11-0 run to take a 17-12 lead early in the second quarter, but Westside took back the lead wit a PJ Ngambi 3-pointer. It was back-and-forth the rest of the game with several ties and lead changes.
With the game knotted up at 56-all, junior forward Graham Cassoutt knocked down a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under 1:30 to play. Ngambi got a layup to pull Westside within one and then he stole the ball, leading to a foul and a pair of free throws from Omaha signee Jadin Booth for the lead with 37.9 to go.
Jared Mattley missed a runner, Daniel Brocaille missed a put-back, Josiah Beckenhauer grabbed that rebound and fed Brocaille and the Warriors fouled him with 8.5 on the clock. Brocaille hit both to give the Titans the lead and Booth’s look from 3 on the other end didn’t fall, securing the first upset of the day.
Booth gets the look but it doesn’t fall.
No. 11 Papillion-La Vista South knocks off No. 6 Omaha Westside 61-60.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) December 29, 2019
Mattley scored all 17 of his points after halftime, shooting 4-of-7 from deep, and he dished out six assists. Dana Dempsey had 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds. In addition to the game-winning free throws, Brocaille finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Sophomore guard Chandler Meeks led the Warriors with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting (3-of-4 from 3) and three steals. Carl Brown scored all 12 of his points in the second half, shooting 4-of-6 from deep.
Omaha Westside: 12-12-19-17 — 60
Papillion-La Vista South: 9-15-21-16 — 61
OW: Chandler Meeks 17, Carl Brown 12, Jadin Booth 11, PJ Ngambi 10, Ryan Adkins 4, Reggie Thomas 3, Payson Gillespie 3
PLVS: Jared Mattley 17, Danair Dempsey 17, Daniel Rocaille 14, Graham Cassoutt 5, Jack McKittrick 5, Thaison Glenn 3
No. 10 Millard West 65, No. 7 Omaha North 53
With starting point guard and third-leading scorer Curtis Ogba Jr. in street clothes because of an injury, the Vikings couldn’t find enough offense to keep up with the Wildcats as Millard West followed up Papio South’s upset with one of its own.
The Wildcats hit a 3 to open the second half, pushing their lead to 15 thanks in large part to 6-of-9 shooting from 3 to that point. However, North put together a 16-2 run to cut that deficit all the way down to one at 41-40. The Vikings never quite got over the hump, however, as Millard West took a 48-45 lead into the fourth quarter. The two teams continued to battle early in the fourth until the Vikings ran out of gas and Millard West closed the game on a 9-0 run.
Dalys Beanum, a South Dakota State football commit, led the Wildcats with 17 points on 5-of-8 from the field and 6-of-9 from the line with six rebounds and six assists. Benumb used his athleticism to get wherever he wanted on the court, making plays for himself and his teammates all game.
Wal Chuol had another strong outing for the Vikings, recording his sixth 20-point performance in eight games this season. He shot 7-of-13 from the field including 3-of-7 from 3 and grabbed seven rebounds.
Omaha North: 16- 8-21- 8 — 53
Millard West: 21-15-12-17 — 65
ON: Wal Chuol 20, John Farmer 9, Evan Decker 9, Darryl Bennett 6, Keshuan Williams 5, Peyton Johnson 2
MW: Dalys Beanum 17, Ryan Larsen 11, Evan Meyersick 9, Dominic DeAngelo-Humm 7, Chase Hultman 6, Zach Olson 6, Josh Wickstrom 3
No. 2 Millard North 71, No. 15 Bellevue East 60
At halftime, this game was looking like a blowout as the Mustangs nearly cracked 50 and led by 22 at the break. However, credit is due to Bellevue East as the Chieftains battled all the way back to make it an 11-point game at the final buzzer.
Nebraska target Hunter Sallis and Stanford commit Max Murrell put on a show all game.
Sallis finished with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four assists, two steals and a block. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts but knocked down a handful of mid-range jumpers and had a couple strong finishes at the rim as well. He just missed putting down a wind-mill dunk on a steal and breakaway at one point in the second half, just barely catching the rim.
Murrell was right behind him with a season-high 19 points on 9-of-14 from the field, hitting a 3 and throwing down three or four dunks. He also grabbed seven rebounds (five offensive) and blocked two shots.
Jasen Green, a 2022 Nebraska target, missed his first four field goals before getting two buckets in the fourth quarter to finish with six points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
For the Chieftains, Joey Skoff scored a game-high 22 points. He only shot 7-of-18 overall including 5-of-15 inside the arc, but a lot of that had to do with Millard North’s incredible length all over the court, making it tough to finish around the basket. He also grabbed five boards and dished out five assists. Ater Louis, a 6-foot-6 junior, converted all seven of his field goal attempts for 15 points to go with six rebounds.
Millard North: 28-21-10-12 — 71
Bellevue East: 15-12-17-16 — 60
MN: Hunter Sallis 20, Max Murrell 19, Saint Thomas 10, Jadin Johnson 6, Jasen Green 6, Noah Erickson 5, Tyler Sandoval 4, Colin Monie 1
BE: Joey Skoff 22, Ater Louis 15, TK Barnett 8, LaVonte Howard 7, Gage Dengel 4, Tre Norman 2, Jacob Burlingame 2
>> Play-in Game — No. 15 Bellevue East 74, No. 18 Omaha Northwest 59: Joey Skoff went off for a career-high 42 points on 16-of-25 from the field, 5-of-9 from 3 and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line with four assists, three rebounds and two steals. After Louis had a big game as well, just missing out on a triple-double with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting, 16 rebounds and nine blocks.
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.