It’s championship Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena and Hail Varsity will bring you updates from all of the day’s action as the final two teams in each class battle it out for a state title.
No. 3 Auburn 30, No. 4 North Bend Central 29
Buckets were at a premium all morning long in the lowest-scoring game in C-1 final history, but when the Bulldogs needed one the most sophomore Cam Binder was there to deliver the the first state championship in Auburn history.
Sophomore Breckin Peters hit a short jumper in the paint to give North Bend Central a one-point lead with 17.7 to play. Binder, Auburn’s leading scorer who hit a buzzer-beater to lift the Bulldogs past Grand Island Central Catholic in the first round, initially gave up the ball. But Auburn got it back to him with about seven seconds to play and he took care of the rest.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) March 9, 2019
With 6-foot-7 junior Josh Lambert fouling out midway through the fourth, Binder said he knew he had to go for the win rather than risking an overtime period without Lambert.
“I just took what they gave me,” Binder said. “When that first 3 wasn’t open, I knew if I could move them a little bit that I could make a counter-move and then I could get an open look and hopefully hit the shot.”
Binder was the only player in double figures, finishing with 14 points including two 3s in the fourth quarter. Auburn shot 10-of-25 from the field with 14 turnovers and only managed to get off four 3-pointers against the Tiger defense but North Bend Central couldn’t take advantage, shooting 11-of-33 themselves with 11 giveaways.
“They played great,” Auburn coach Jim Weeks said. “It was a slugfest, and at the end of the game, you have a star and he makes two big shots.”
Auburn raced out to a 12-2 lead before North Bend Central settled in and picked up their defensive intensity. The Tigers scored the last four points of the first quarter and the first four of the second for an 8-0 run to make it 12-10. Auburn pulled ahead 16-11 but North Bend Central scored the last three to make it a two-point game at halftime.
The third quarter included two buckets for each team as Auburn took a 20-18 lead into the fourth. Auburn struck first in the period but North Bend scored five straight to take its first lead. Lambert tied it up at the line but North Bend pulled ahead 27-24 with less than two minutes to play.
Binder, who set the school record for made 3s as a freshman then bested that record this year as a sophomore, hit his first 3 of the game with 1:40 remianing to tie it up, setting up the final sequence.
Senior Tanner Wietfeld led the runner-up Tigers with eight points and five rebounds.
No. 3 Auburn (24-3): 12-4-4-11 — 29
No. 4 North Bend Central (25-4): 6-8-4-10 — 30
A: Cam Binder 14, Josh Lambert 7, Dan Frary 3, Brody Darnell 3, CJ Hughes 2, Bret Haltensperger 1
NBC: Tanner Wietfeld 8, Ben Rolenc 7, John Emanuel 6, Jaxon Wietfeld 4, Breckin Peters 2, Chase Ruzicka 2
No. 2 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 61, No. 4 Fremont Bergan 46
The Bulldogs and Knights went back and forth through the first three quarters with six lead changes and two ties but an 11-0 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family run bridging the third and fourth quarters proved to be too much for Bergan to overcome as the Bulldogs shot 12-of-14 from the free-throw line in the fourth to seal their first state title.
“It is so much fun to play Fremont Bergan,” Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family coach Joe Hesse said. “That is such a good team. You kind of wish you could play them 20 times; you would get a lot of different outcomes. I think we were really fortunate we were able to build a little lead there … We put them in a really tough spot.”
Bergan took its final lead of the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Dre Vance that made it 39-38 but freshman Jacob Sjuts answered with a 3 of his own and Turner Beller hit two free throws to put the Bulldogs up 43-39 after three.
Jacob Sjuts opened the fourth with another 3 then fed his older brother Tyler Sjuts for a 3 in the corner, giving the Bulldogs a 10-point advantage. Jacob Sjuts went on to finish with a team-high 15 points, shooting 3-of-4 from 3 and 6-of-6 from the foul line.
“I expect it from this guy,” Hesse said. “This guy is a stud, his brother is a stud; these guys have been getting it done for us all year. Jacob, he’s a shooter. He’s had some bad games; he’s had more good than bad though. When he’s on… That first quarter buzzer-beater, we saw a little clip of that — that was deep, and I knew it was going in. He’s just a great player.”
Nearly two minutes passed without a point until Tyten Vance hit a 3-pointer to make it 49-42 with 4:30 to play but that was as close as Bergan would get as Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family ran clock and hit free throws to stretch it back out.
Senior forward Ethan Hanzel scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half as the Bulldogs went inside to him early and often.
“They needed me to score early so I thought I should just start getting it done down low, scoring a couple points for us and getting us on the board,” Hanzel said.
Beller had 11 points and six rebounds and Bret Hanis chipped in 10 points an five assists.
Dre Vance led the Knights with 18 points and seven assists while leading scorer Grant Frickenstein finished with 13 points as the Bulldogs focused their defensive attention on him with a few different looks.
No. 2 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family (23-6): 14-12-17-18 — 61
No. 4 Fremont Bergan (19-9): 13-10-16- 7 — 46
HLHF: Jacob Sjuts 15, Ethan Hanzel 13, Turner Beller 11, Bret Hanis 10, Tyler Sjuts 7, Dylan Hanzel 3, Jason Sjuts 2
FB: Dre Vance 18, Grant Frickenstein 13, Dylan Gartner 4, Riley Lindberg 4, Tyten Vance 4, Lance Meyers 3
No. 1 Lincoln Pius X 71, No. 3 Omaha Roncalli 59, OT
The Class B semifinals set a high bar for the championship game but Pius and Roncalli were up to the task, delivering another instant classic. The Crimson Pride gave the Thunderbolts all they could handle and then some, but Pius managed to outlast Roncalli. The Bolts outscored the Pride 12-0 in the second overtime period to clinch their first state title since 2004.
Both teams needed extra time in their semifinals to make it to Saturday as Pius beat Omaha Skutt in overtime and Roncalli knocked off Aurora in double-overtime on Friday.
“What a game,” Pius coach Brian Spicka said. “Apparently we like overtime in the state tournament. Last year [against Omaha Creighton Prep in the first round], triple-overtime; overtime last night; double-overtime today. These guys are about drama, I guess. We talked about how this is a season that has been really great for us as a team and as a school and as individuals. We’re kind of writing our own book and this was one heck of a chapter to be able to write here in this game. The heart, the desire, the competitiveness that all these guys have is great. To be able to gut out a win like this is great.
“Credit to Roncalli — great players, great coaches, great school,” Spicka continued. “They were game every step of the way and it very well could have been them sitting here. We made a few extra plays, got a few rebounds, got a few stops and then for us to be here in this spot is a pretty special thing.”
Neither team could get a shot to fall early in the second overtime as both sides missed their first two shots. Pius senior Charlie Easley ended that drought. He had shot 2-of-7 from deep to that point after missing all four of his 3-point attempts on Friday, but Easley rose up with confidence and knocked down the shot to give Pius the lead.
“It felt good,” Easley said. “It felt good. Short-term memory.”
Roncalli junior Taiden Red, who had been red-hot to that point after knocking down his first four triples, tried to answer but couldn’t get it to go. Pius grabbed the board and pushed it up the floor and junior guard Kolbe Rada drew a foul from Roncalli point guard Jack Dotzler, putting the junior star on the bench with five and giving Rada a chance to make it a two-possession game.
“I just had to tell myself I was back at home, just shooting at home, block out the crowd, just me at the line,” Rada said. “Just hit these two shots and keep playing. I just had to relax myself.”
He did so and knocked down both shots, putting the Bolts up 64-59 with 90 seconds to play. Roncalli couldn’t get anything to fall the rest of the way, sending the Bolts to the free-throw line a couple of times, and senior forward Austin Jablonski — a Nebraska football walk-on commit — put an exclamation point on the game with an uncontested dunk at the buzzer in front of the Pius student section.
Easley finished with a game-high 25 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks, capping off a record-setting career with another outstanding performance. The Nebraska coaches have talked to Easley about a walk-on opportunity and both Tim Miles and Michael Lewis were in the building for Pius’ semifinal win over Skutt.
“He impacts [the game] in so many ways,” Spicka said. “His court awareness, his vision, some of the passes that he makes in transition to be able to allow for these guys to be able to get easy shots. I think he had a double-double today with four rebounds as well; that’s not an uncommon thing for him — as a 6-2 guard he plays like he’s 6-5 out there. His defensive skills, his anticipation and those kinds of things are important. His leadership skills as well, and he’s a guy that could score as much as he wants in a game usually but he doesn’t are about that kind of stuff. It’s more about us winning and getting to a point like this.”
Jablonski had a double-double as well with 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Rafa and fellow junior Mitchell Sebek chipped in 10 points apiece.
After putting up 16 points in the first half, Pius made a defensive adjustment to face guard Red and limit his touches, and he only managed to score four points after halftime to finish with a team-high 20. Senior three-sport star Alex Rodgers had 18 points and six rebounds and Dotzler finished with 12 points, seven assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Both teams pushed the pace early and often, resulting in a 17-all draw after one. After trading buckets a couple of times, Pius put together an 8-0 run to pull ahead 30-22 before Red got loose for his fourth 3.
The Bolts took a 36-29 lead into halftime. Roncalli scored the first four points of the second half to pull within three but Easley hit a 3 to pus it back to six. Dotzler scored five straight to pull the Pride within one but Pius built the lead back up to four thanks to a jumper by Easley that mad wit 44-40 after three.
Roncalli scored first in the fourth before Roncalli pushed the lead back to seven. The Pride put together a 10-3 run to tie it on a layup by Red with 1:43 to play. Pius held for the last shot and Easley’s pull-up jumper rimmed out, sending the game to overtime.
The teams went bucket-for-bucket in the first overtime. Jablonski scored inside to put the Bolts up three with 1:56 to play. Dotzler went for the tie and missed, but Roncalli got the ball back on a steal. Rodgers tried a 3 of his own and air-balled it but the 5-foot-10 Dotzler grabbed the rebound and put it back in plus a foul, tying it up at the line.
Pius ran the final minute off the clock once again and once again came up empty, sending it to a second overtime where Pius finished it off. After the game, the Bolts said their confidence never wavered throughout the overtimes.
“We’ve obviously been there before many times, so I think that prepared us for the moment,” Easley said. “We just looked at each other in the huddle and we just said ‘We’re not losing, we’re not going to go home with a loss.’ We just willed ourselves to a victory.”
No. 1 Lincoln Pius X (27-2): 17-19- 8- 8- 7-12 — 71
No. 3 Omaha Roncalli (25-3): 17-12-11-12- 7- 0 — 59
LPX: Charlie Easley 25, Austin Jablonski 15, Kolbe Rada 10, Mitchell Sebek 10, Holton Harman 6, Dominic Pelan 3, JP Miller 2
OR: Taiden Red 20, Alex Rodgers 18, Jack Dotzler 12, Noah Stickrod 4, Jake Orr 3, Shane Orr 2
No. 1 BRLD 54, No. 6 Yutan 42
The Wolverines flexed their muscle in the paint en route to winning their first state title on Saturday as the Chieftains struggled to put the ball in the basket all game.
BRLD outscored Yutan 28 to eight in the paint behind a double-double from junior forward Jaxon Johnson. He led the team with 15 points on 5-of-7 from the field and 5-of-11 from the line and 11 rebounds.
BRLD struggled from the perimeter, shooting just 2-of-10, but they shot nearly 63 percent inside the arc and attempted 16 more free throws than the Chieftains. Junior Guard Will Gatzemeyer did not miss a shot, finishing with 13 points on 5-of-5 from the field, 1-of-1 from 3 and 2-of-2 from the line.
Sophomore point guard Lucas Vogt didn’t have a great shooting day, missing all four of his shots from beyond the arc, but he did a bit of everything and showed off his athleticism in the process, finishing with nine points, seven assists, three rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
Yutan shot 36 percent overall including 5-of-19 from 3 and they were just 3-of-7 from the free-throw line as well. Sophomore point guard Brady Timm was the only Chieftain in double figures with 10 points.
The Wolverines jumped out to an 11-2 lead as Yutan missed six of its first seven shots and turned the ball over six times. Time knocked down a pull-up jumper to spark a 6-1 run for the Chieftains, but Vogt answered with a pull-up of his own at the buzzer to give BRLD a 14-68lead after one.
Junior sharp-shooter Trey Knudsen opened the second quarter with a 3 to cut the deficit in half but BRLD answered with an 11-2 run to build the lead up to 12. Timm knocked down a 3 but Jaxon scored inside to put BRLD up 27-16 heading into halftime.
BRLD opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run to push the lead to 20. Yutan chipped away at the lead over the next seven minutes, pulling as close as eight with just over five minutes to play, but Yutan built it back up to 15 and cruised to the title.
No. 1 BRLD (27-1): 14-13-11-16 — 54
No. 6 Yutan (23-6): 8- 8- 8-18 — 42
BRLD: Jaxon Johnson 15, Will Gatzemeyer 13, ucas Vogt 9, Dylan Beutler 9, Darwin Snyder 5, Brayden Anderson 2, Nick Ronnfeldt 1
Y: Brady Timm 10, Trey Knudsen 9, Will Hays 9, Colby Tichota 7, Clayton Nelson 4, Jason Simon 3
No. 6 Omaha South 58, No. 4 Omaha Central 56
Class A’s final between the Packers and Eagles had just about everything — a chess match on the white boards, star players stepping up, deep 3s, dunks and even a little officiating controversy — but one play will stand out above all others.
Omaha Central coach Eric Behrens called his final timeout with 12.7 on the clock with possession in a tie game. Central in-bounded to Max Polk who handed it off to Class A’s leading scorer, John Tonje. Tonje looked to attack, but South junior Ty Griggs had other plans.
— Jacob Padilla (@JacobPadilla_) March 10, 2019
Griggs scored to put the Packers up 58-56, and an official blew his whistle thinking Central was trying to take a timeout. It was ruled an inadvertent whistle and the officials put 3.3 back on the clock. Central got the ball in to Polk but he got bumped, fell and was whistled for a travel. Central in-bounded the ball and the buzzer sounded, signifying the Packers’ second state championship in the past four years.
“I have never felt a feeling like that before, throughout all the years that I’ve been playing, that is probably the best feeling I’ve ever had because I stepped up and made the big play to get the ball and fast-break it to get the layup and win the game,” Griggs said.
Five Packers finished in the 10 to 12 range for points in a balanced scoring effort. Griggs’ winner gave him 12, 10 of which came in the second half, and he led the Packers with four assists. Senior guard Ta’Vion Anderson matched him with 12 points, nine in the second half. Skyler Wilson had 11 points and senior Kyle Hutcherson pitched in 11 off the bench as well. Jay Saunders chipped in 10 points and grabbed five boards.
“Central plays really hard and our guys play hard and with heart,” Omaha South coach Bruce Chubick Sr. said. “They’re where they’re at because… We don’t have the stellar player, we don’t have the John Tonje — who, by the way, I think is the best player in the state — we don’t have the John Tonjes or any of the other highlight players. We’ve got kids that work their butts off, that are talented, that trust each other and I think that’s the key. They just play, ad these guys are so resilient.”
Latrell Wrightsell Jr. led the Eagles with 18 points and four steals. Tonje finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Max Polk added 11 points.
Central jumped out to a 16-9 lead after one thanks to a defensive effort that held the Packers to 4-of-12 from the field. The Packers kept the Eagles from running away with it in the second half as the gap bounced between four and eight throughout the quarter. A 3-pointer by Hutcherson cut it to four late but a steal and layup by Wrightsell gave the Eagles a 29-23 lead at halftime.
South scored the first five of the third to make it a one-point game but Central responded with a pair of 3s (one by Tonje, one by Abe Hoskins) sandwiched around a layup by Anderson. South scored six straight to take its first lead of the game but Teth Tut knocked down a jumper from he free-throw line to give Central a 36-35 lead after three.
The Packers opened the fourth quarter with an alley-oop to Griggs and Wrightsell pulled up from well beyond the high school arc to re-take the lead. Saunders asserted himself with a personal 6-0 run to give the Packers a four-point lead. Central pushed back, but South ripped off a 10-2 run capped by a three-point play from Griggs to take a nine-point lead with just over three minutes to play.
Between missed shots and turnovers, the Packers’ offense ground to a halt as Central scored nine in a row to tie it up on a second-chance bucket by Tut with 1:34 to play. South went into stall mode but Central used a foul to give to force the Eagles to try to in-bound the ball, and Polk’s pressure led to an errant pass and a turnover, giving the ball back to Central and setting the stage for Griggs’ heroics.
The Packers shot 15-of-19 (78.9 percent) from the field and scored 26 points in the paint in the second half.
No. 4 Omaha Central (22-6): 16-13- 8-19 — 56
No. 6 Omaha South (21-6): 9-14-13-22 — 58
OC: Latrell Wrightsell Jr. 18, John Tonje 15, Max Polk 11, Abe Hoskins 6, Teth Tut 6
OS: Ty Griggs 12, Ta’Vion Anderson 12, Skyler Wilson 11, Kyle Hutcherson 11, Jay Saunders 10, Rashawn McNeal-Lee 2
No. 5 Johnson-Brock 67, No. 3 Osmond 54
The Eagles took over in the second half and pulled away from the Tigers en route to clinching their first state title in two decades and completing the football-basketball championship sweep.
“It meant a lot coming after football,” junior multi-sport star Ty Hahn said. “We were kind of on the football high for a little bit. We were a little slow into the basketball to start but as we finished up we really focused on finishing it the way we wanted to do it.”
Johnson-Brock outscored Osmond 32-19 in the second half behind 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
Sophomore guard Kaden Glynn led all scorers with 25 points on 9-of-18 from the field including 5-of-8 from deep, five rebounds and three assists.
“I knew I was kind of feeling it there, especially in the second half, and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball when I was open,” Glynn said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Coach for telling us to run the offense better, and obviously it worked.”
Hahn had 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Senior forward Dylan Rowe chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds.
Junior forward Keaton Timmerman led the Tigers with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting (3-of-5 from 3), six rebounds and three blocks. Junior forward Justus Maertins had 14 points and three blocks and senior Center Nicholas Reifkoski chipped in 10 points and six boards in 11 minutes off the bench. Foul trouble and Johnson-Brock’s defensive attention limited leading scorer Merrix Denn to just eight points.
Three of Denn’s points came on this shot that put the Tigers up 20-17 after one.
— Tom Behmer (@tom_behmer) March 10, 2019
Johnson-Brock scored six straight to open the second quarter, and after a couple of ties the Eagles pulled ahead by six midway through the period. Osmond fought back to tie it at 35-all just before halftime.
Johnson Brock went on a 12-2 run to open the second half, pulling ahead by eight. The Eagles pushed it to nine with a 3-pointer by Glynn before taking a 53-46 lead into the fourth. Johnson-Brock opened the final period with a 9-1 run to push the lead to 16 and the Eagles glided to the finish line from there as the lead never dropped below 10.
No. 3 Osmond (27-2): 20-15-11- 8 — 54
No. 5 Johnson-Brock (24-4): 17-18-18-14 — 67
O: Keaton Timmerman 19, Justus Maertins 14, Nicholas Reikofski 10, Merrix Denn 8, Aaron Chishiba 2, Graysen Schultze 1
JB: Kaden Glynn 25, Ty Hahn 15, Seth Moerer 8, Cole Fossenbarger 8, Dylan Rowe 8, Wyatt Volker 3
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.