The boys state basketball tournament got underway on Thursday with games at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Devaney Center, Lincoln East and Lincoln Northeast.
Here’s your roundup of all the early action at PBA with highlgihts from the rest of the action to come throughout the day.
No. 7 Lincoln North Star 56, No. 2 Omaha Creighton Prep 43
The first Class A quarterfinal proved to be something of a rock fight with a lot of physical play and not a lot of buckets as both teams shot under 37 percent from the field. However, the Navigators started off hot from the perimeter and the Junior Jays never found their range as North Star avenged a regular season loss to prep and advanced to the Class A semifinals with a 56-43 win.
North Star closed the first half on an 8-2 run to take a 29-21 lead at the break. Prep pulled within four with a quick start but North Star stretched its lead back to double digits and took a 41-31 advantage into the fourth where the Gators shot 10-of-12 from the free-throw line to prevent a Prep comeback.
Donovan Williams, a 2020 Nebraska commit, finished with a game-high 20 points thanks to his work at the charity stripe (9-of-12) and from the 3-point line (3-of-8). He only shot 1-of-9 inside the arc but grabbed five rebounds.
Nebraska signee Akol Arop led the Junior Jays with 13 points, 14 rebounds (six offensive) and five blocks. He shot 4-of-13 from the field and 5-of-8 from the foul line. As a team, the Junior Jays shot just 3-of-20 from 3 while the Gators knocked down eight of their 18 attempts.
Sophomore wing Kwat Abdelkarim added 14 points and nine rebounds while senior forward Josiah Allick chipped in 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for the Gators. Senior point guard Robert Peters was the only other double-digit scorer for the Junior Jays with 10 points.
No. 7 Lincoln North Star (17-8): 13-16-12-15 — 56
No. 2 Omaha Creighton Prep (22-5): 11-10-10-12 — 43
LNS: Donovan Williams 20, Kwat Abdelkarim 14, Josiah Allick 11, Owen Baker 6, Julian Best 6
OCP: Akol Arop 13, Robert Peters 10, Thomas Faber 9, Spencer Schomers 5, CJ Wolfe 2, Mai’Jhe Wiley 2, AJ Rollins 2
No. 6 Omaha South 69, No. 3 Kearney 55
The Packers made it two-for-two on upsets in the afternoon window at Pinnacle Bank Arena with a 14-point win over the third-seeded Kearney Bearcats.
The combination of South’s hot 3-point shooting early and its relentless pressure all game long proved to be too much for Kearney to handle. The Packers shot 6-of-13 from 3 in the first half and outscored the Bearcats 20-4 in the second quarter to take a 35-20 lead at halftime and Kearney never quite got all the way back in it.
The Packers forced 24 Kearney turnovers, 16 of which were steals that fueled South’s transition game. South struggled to put the Bearcats away in the fourth, shooting just 11-of-23 from the free-throw line in the final eight minutes, but eight was as close as Kearney could get.
Senior guard Ta’Vion Anderson put up game-high 25 points on 10-of-14 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3 while dishing out four assists and grabbing four steals. Junior guard Ty Griggs added 18 points and six rebounds and junior guard Skyler Wilson chipped in 11 points, five assists and four steals.
Liberty signee Shiloh Robinson was a force for the Bearcats, finishing with 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds and four blocks but he fouled out in the fourth quarter and was the only Bearcat in double figures. Nebraska football walk-on commit Brayden Miller contrbuted four boards and a steal off the Kearney bench.
South advances to the semifinals to face Lincoln North Star at Pinnacle Bank Arena at 7 p.m. on Friday.
No. 3 Kearney (20-6): 16- 4-15-20 — 55
No. 6 Omaha South (19-6): 15-20-13-21 — 69
K: Shiloh Robinson 20, Jaden Engen 9, Colin Murray 8, Seth Stroh 8, Jack Johnson 7, Carson Schwarz 3
OS: Ta’Vion Anderson 25, Ty Griggs 18, Skyler Wilson 11, Jay Saunders 9, Rashawn McNeal-Lea 6, Kyle Hutcherson 2
No. 1 Bellevue West 70, No. 8 Papillion-La Vista South 59
Sophomore point guard Chucky Hepburn put on a show to lead the top-seeded Thunderbirds to a double-digit win over a pesky Papio South squad.
Bellevue West closed the first quarter on a 14-0 run to take a 16-5 lead and they stretch that advantage out to 21 at 30-9. Perhaps the highlight of day one happened late in the second quarter when 6-foot-1 junior David Nuor stole a pass and took it all the way down the floor for a tomahawk jam with 6-foot-9 Papio South senior going for the chase-down block.
— Thor Tripp (@ThorTripp) March 8, 2019
However, Papio South closed the half on an 11-6 run to make it 36-20 at the break. The Titans continued the chip away at the lead throughout the second half, pulling as close as eight, but every time they made a run Hepburn had the answer for Bellevue West.
The sophomore floor general who holds an offer from Nebraska finished with 19 points on 9-of-14 from the field, 2-of-5 from 3 and 9-of-11 from the line, seven steals, six assists and three rebounds. Senior guard Nico Felici added 16 points and Nuor finished with 14 points and six boards for the T-Birds.
Junior guard Jared Mattley was held scoreless in the first but finished with 23 to lead the Titans as he had 11 in the fourth. Our added 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the fourth. Papio South turned the ball over 19 times, 12 of which were steals by the Thunderbirds.
No.1 Bellevue West (26-1): 16-20-14-20 — 70
No. 8 Papillion-La Vista South (14-12): 5-15-17-22 — 59
BW: Chucky Hepburn 29, Nico Felici 16, David Nuor 14, John Shanklin 9, Louis Fidler 2
PLVS: Jared Mattley 23, Lök Wur 15, Mitchell Blum 6, Ryan Winkler 5, Graham Cassoutt 5, Chase Norblade 3, Daniel Brocaille 2
No. 4 Omaha Central 66, No. 5 Omaha Westside 63
Pinnacle Bank Arena saved the best for the last as the 4-5 match-up went down to the final seconds. The two teams went bucket for bucket all game long, trading the lead several times in the second half.
In the end, junior point guard Max Polk’s heroics led the Eagles to victory as he scored 12 of his team-high 19 in the fourth quarter. Polk scored eight straight for the Warriors including a steal and a score that put them up 64-63 with less than 30 seconds to play.
Westside turned the ball over and fouled Central’s John Tonje and the senior hot both free throws to make it a three-point game with 9.7 to play. Westside got the ball to junior guard Jadin Booth and he got a look off from 3 but it didn’t fall and the Eagles held on to secure their first win at state since 2013.
Tonje finished with 17 points and five rebounds for the Eagles who won despite shooting just 2-of-17 from 3. Central turned the ball over five times while forcing 14 give-aways by the Warriors including two in the final minute after Westside had pulled ahead 63-60.
Booth finished with a game-high 23 points and five rebounds and had nine points in the fourth. He hit his first five 3-pointers — some of which were well beyond even the college arc — before missing at the buzzer. Senior forward Chase Thompson had 21 points and nine rebounds and junior guard PJ Ngambi chipped in 10 points.
Central moves on to face the Thunderbirds in Friday’s second semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Tip off is set for 8:45 p.m.
No. 4 Omaha Central (21-5): 16-18-10-22 — 66
No. 5 Omaha Westside (19-6): 22-14- 8-19 — 63
OC: Max Polk 19, John Tonje 17, Latrell Wrightsell Jr. 8, Abe Hoskins III 8, Faisaun Germany 8, Teth Tut 6
OW: Jadin Booth 23, Chase Thompson 21, PJ Ngambi 10, Carl Brown 5, Chandler Meeks 2, Reggie Thomas 2
No. 1 Lincoln Pius X 83, No. 8 Scottsbluff 43
The top-seeded Thunderbolts opened the tournament with a statement win over the Bearcats as Scottsbluff had no answer for Pius’ balanced attack. All five starters finished with nine or more points and Pius got 16 points off its bench as well. The Bolts shot nearly 55 percent from the field including a blistering 10-of-16 from deep.
Pius senior guard Charlie Easley, who the Husker coaches have talked to about walking on at Nebraska, put on a show, scoring all 20 of his points in the first half and powering the Bolts to a 48-26 lead at halftime. Scottsbluff made a small run to open the second quarter but Easley answered with a personal 7-0 streak including back-to-back 3s.
Easley didn’t play much in the second half and missed his only two shots, finishing 6-of-9 from the field, 4-of-6 from 3 and 4-of-5 from the line with seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Junior forward Holton Harman had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, junior guard Kolbe Rada added 13 points,four boards and three assists and junior wing Mitchell Sebek chipped in 10 points and three assists.
Nebraska football walk-on commit Austin Jablonski added nine points on 3-of-5 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line with four boards.
Junior guard Jasiya DeOllos was the only Bearcat in double figures with 10 and he chipped in four assists as well. DeOllos scored six of his points in the second quarter to get Scottsbluff going a bit, but the Bearcats never found a way to get stops on the other end.
No. 1 Lincoln Pius X (25-2): 25-23-25-10 — 83
No. 8 Scottsbluff (14-11): 9-17-10- 7 — 43
LPX: Charlie Easley 20, Holton Harman 15, Kolbe Rada 13, Mitchell Sebek 10, Austin Jablonski 9, Dominic Pelan 7, Josh Miller 6, Noah Unger 2, Kyle Kluthe 1
S: Jasiya DeOllos 10, Connor McCracken 9, Dawson Mohr 7, Harold Baez 5, Sam Clarkson 4, Sebastian Harsh 3, Izaiah Mendoza 3, Chance Parker 2
No. 4 Omaha Skutt 77, No. 5 York 64
Last season, the SkyHawks had a lead late and let it slip away as the Dukes rallied to send the game to overtime before pulling out a win in double-overtime to clinch the Class B state championship.
Skutt junior guard Tyson Gordon made sure history didn’t repeat itself on Thursday as the SkyHawks soared past York for a 77-64 win in the first round.
Gordon finished with 38 points, one shy of the school record, in addition to his seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. The 6-foot-3 guard shot 10-of-14 from the field (1-of-1 from 3) and 17-of-19 from the free-throw line including 11-of-12 in the fourth quarter.
As a team, the SkyHawks shot 19-of-24 from the foul line to hold off a late York rally. York scored 26 points in the fourth and pulled within nine late but could get no closer. Jake Kudron added 16 for Skutt, shooting 6-of-6 from the charity strip in the fourth.
Northern State commit Brady Danielson scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and added seven assists, six rebounds and two steals to his stat line. Senior center Wyatt Cast added 11 points and six rebounds for the Dukes.
Nebraska football commit Garrett Snodgrass fouled out early in the fourth after doing the heavy lifting in the first half. He finished with 13 points on 3-of-6 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line with four rebounds, four blocks, two assists and a steal.
Skutt advances to take on the top-seeded Thunderbolts in the semifinals on Friday at 2 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
No. 4 Omaha Skutt (23-4): 23-19-14-21 — 77
No. 5 York (21-5): 13-11-14-26 — 64
OS: Tyson Gordon 38, Jake Kudron 16, TJ Skradski 8, Charlie Fletcher 5, Andrew Merfeld 4, Grant Bertucci 4, Ryan Doble 2
Y: Brady Danielson 19, Garrett Snodgrass 11. Wyatt Cast 11, Jeb Lucas 8, Reid Hoffmann 6, Zayden Loreman 6, Matt Haggadone 2, Jacob Erwin 1
Scores from Devaney:
>> No. 3 Roncalli 66, No. 6 Bennington 60, OT: Jack Dotzler led Roncalli with 22 points and scored five of the Pride’s eight points in overtime while Alex Rodgers finished with 18 points and Shane Orr chipped in 12; Cooper Prososki scored a game-high 23 points for the Badgers and Karson Gansebom added 12.
>> No. 2 Aurora 71, No. 7 Alliance 49: South Dakota State signee Baylor Scheierman led Aurora with 30 points while Concordia signee Cade Reichardt chipped in 12 points; Mason Hiemstra was the only Bulldog in double figures with 21.
- No. 3 Auburn 44, No. 6 Grand Island Central Catholic 42:
- No. 2 Wahoo 64, No. 7 Boys Town 50:
- No. 1 Ogallala 55, No. 8 Milford 54
- No. 4 North Bend Central 42, No. 5 Hastings Adams Central 37
- No. 6 Yutan 55, No. 3 Sutton 45
- No. 7 Ponca 54, No. 2 Bridgeport 32
- No. 1 BRLD 70, No. 8 Howells-Dodge 51
- No. 4 Centennial 56, No. 5 Wakefield 48
- No. 1 Elm Creek 52, Nebraska City Lourdes 36
- No. 4 Fremont Bergan 73, No. 5 Fullerton 64
- No. 2 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 56, No. 7 Harrington-Newcastle 36
- No. 3 Paxton 63, No. 6 Wauneta-Palisade 45
- No. 5 Johnson-Brock 67, No. 4 Humphrey St. Francis 57
- No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart 57, No. 8 Blue Hill 54
- No. 2 Riverside 67, No. 7 Exeter-Milligan 48
- No. 3 Osmond 52, No. 6 Loomis 38
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.