The Heartland Events Center in Grand Island played host to the 14th annual Heartland Hoops Classic on Saturday with 16 teams from around the state — and the country — competing in two separate sessions. You can read about the first round-up here.
The afternoon session was headlined by Millard North knocking off perennial national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy and Bellevue West giving one of the best teams in the country in Sunrise Christian Academy a run for its money.
Auburn 52, BRLD 46
Auburn got off to a great start, built up a significant lead and then held on as BRLD tried to make a late comeback, extending its winning streak to 55 consecutive games. The last time the Bulldogs lost was in the Heartland Hoops Classic two years ago, also against BRLD.
Senior forward Daniel Frary led the Bulldogs with 19 points on 7-of-10from the field and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed 11 rebounds (four offensive) and blocked four shots. Cade Patzel added 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting including 13 in the first half. Ryan Binder chipped in 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting.
Lucas Vogt led BRLD with 20 points and three steals. Dylan Beutler scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting — all in the second half — and he grabbed seven rebounds and three steals.
Auburn jumped out to a 16-7 lead early in the second quarter, stretched it to 25-14 at one point and took a 27-17 lead into halftime.
The teams traded buckets in the third quarter as Auburn hit its first five shots and BRLD made its first five. The Wolverines cut the deficit to six a one point but a tip-in by Frary just beat the buzzer and gave the Bulldogs a 44-35 lead heading into the fourth.
BRLD picked up the pressure and started turning Auburn over to give itself a chance, but the Wolverines shot 2-of-7 from deep and 3-of-7 from the line in the fourth quarter and Auburn held on.
Auburn: 14-13-17- 8—52
A: Daniel Frary 19, Cade Patzel 15, Ryan Binder 10, Cam Binder 5, Maverick Binder 3
BRLD: Lucas Vogt 20, Dylan butler 14, Toriano Bohannon Jr. 6, Micah Henschen 3, Zach Hegge 3
Lincoln Pius X 65, Grand Island Central Catholic 45
The Thunderbolts jumped all over the Crusaders early and Grand Island Central Catholic wasn’t able to get enough stops to get back into the game. This was the only game all day decided by more than seven points.
The sibling towers of Gil and Dei Jengmer scored nearly every time they touched it, combining for 30 points on 13-of-15 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line, but the Crusaders couldn’t get enough stops to keep up as the Bolts shot 53% from the field and only turned the ball over six times.
Sam Easley scored a career-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting (3-of-5 from 3) off the bench. Sam Hoiberg added 13 points, five assists and three steals. Charlie Hoiberg and Blake Daberkow scored 12 points apiece.
Easley scored Pius’ last seven points of the first quarter to give the Bolts a 19-12 lead after one, and then he scored their first five of the second quarter. Pius continued to stretch the lead out as the game went on as Central Catholic had no answer.
Lincoln Pius X: 19-18-15-13—65
Grand Island Central Catholic: 12-16-10- 7—45
LPX: Sam Easley 19, Sam Hoiberg 13, Charlie Hoiberg 12, Blake Daberkow 12, Jack Hastreiter 5, Sam Hastreiter 2, Jake Greisen 2, Luke Taubenheim 2
GICC: Gil Jengmer 17, Dei Jengmer 13, Marcus Lowry 9, Isaac Herbek 5, Russ Martinez 1
Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kansas) 75, Bellevue West 68
Bellevue West gave on of the top few teams in the country a real run for its money, but Sunrise Christian’s size proved to be too much down the stretch as the Thunderbirds just couldn’t get enough stops to keep up.
Fans didn’t get to see the point guard showdown many were looking forward to with Bellevue West’s Chucky Hepburn, a Wisconsin commit, and 5-star Kennedy Chandler, a Tennessee commit, but they were still treated to a great gam. Chandler didn’t make the trip to Grand Island, but the Thunderbirds were also without sixth man Evan Inselman, a 6-foot-5 junior, because of injury.
Omaha commit Frankie Fidler tied Kansas commit Zachary Clemence for game-high honors with 20 points. Junior forward William Kyle III gave the Thunderbirds a spark in the first half with 10 of his 14 points, shooting 6-of-8 overall. Sophomore Josiah Dotzler scored all 13 of his points in the second half and chipped in three assists. Hepburn finished with 12 points, seven assists and six steals.
Sunrise scored the first six points and led throughout the first quarter, but a Kyle put-back at the buzzer pulled the T-Birds to within three at 16-13, and Bellevue West opened the second with an 11-2 run featuring three straight left-wing 3s from Greg Brown.
A steal and breakaway layup from Hepburn put the Thunderbirds up by seven, but the Buffaloes closed the half on a 7-0 run to tie it at 31-all.
Dotzler came alive with a pair of 3s and a three-point play in the third quarter, but the Buffaloes shot 8-of-11 with a couple of 3s in the third and took a 51-47 lead into the fourth.
Sunrise continued to roll offensively in the fourth, putting up 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, but one of the few stops Bellevue West got might have been the highlight of the game. Hepburn sprinted back in the open floor and spiked a layup attempt off the backboard, creating a fast break opportunity for Bellevue West that ended in a corner 3 from Fidler.
However, Sunrise started pounding the ball inside to the 6-foot-10 Clemence and when Bellevue West brought help senior guard Jaden Akins took advantage, scoring 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter.
Bellevue West: 13-18-16-21—68
Sunrise Christian Academy: 16-15-20-24—75
BW: Frankie Fidler 20, William Kyle III 14, Josiah Dotzler 13, Chucky Hepburn 12, Greg Brown 9
SCA: Zachary Clemence 20, Jaden Akins 17, Willie Lightfoot 14, Kendall Brown 12, Gradey Dick 4, Kenny Pohto 4, Jaylon McDaniel 4
Millard North 80, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia) 76
Last year at the Heartland Hoops Classic, the Mustangs put up a great fight but came up short against IMG Academy. This year, Hunter Sallis and Saint Thomas weren’t going to let that happen. The senior duo combined for 61 points as the Mustangs knocked off the traditional prep powerhouse in the nightcap.
Millard North’s win comes eight years after Omaha Central, led by Akoy Agau, shocked the country by taking down Oak Hill in the first year that the Heartland Hoops Classic invited an out-of-state team.
Sallis certainly played like a 5-star prospect, going off for 32 points on 13-of-21 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3 and 4-of-6 from the line with five rebounds and two blocks. Thomas was spectacular early and finished strong as well, putting up 29 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals.
M.J. Rice, a physical 5-star junior wing, led Oak Hill with 26 points on 10-of-15 from the field and 5-of-5 from the line plus eight rebounds.
The Mustangs raced out to an 18-6 lead as Thomas hit his first four 3-point attempts and Sallis hit one as well. Millard North cooled off a bit after that and Rice started asserting himself as the Warriors cut the lead down to 26-20 at the end of the first.
The Millard North big men got into the act in the second quarter as two buckets by Jasen Green and one by Tyler Sandoval gave the Mustangs a 32-20 lead early in the second. Oak Hill settled in and started chipping away at the lead, cutting it all the way down to one, but Sallis fount Thomas under the basket for a layup at the buzzer to make it 40-37 at halftime.
Rice put the Warriors on his back in the third quarter, scoring 13 of their 21 as Oak Hill pulled ahead da few different times, but Sallis scored last to give Millard North a 60-58 lead heading into the fourth.
Rice picked up his fourth foul with a charge less than two minutes in the period and Millard North surged ahead 66-60, but the Warriors rallied to tie it up at 68-all with 3:57 to play. Oak Hill took one last lead at 70-68, but Sallis answered with a 3 and Thomas made a huge defensive play, diving on a loose ball for a steal and getting it ahead to Jadin Johnson who found Sallis for a layup.
Jalen Ricks hit a pair of free throws for Oak Hill, but after the teams traded empty possessions Thomas found Sallis for a layup and then Sallis emphatically blocked an Oak Hill layup attempt, and the Mustangs hit enough free throws to finish off the win and improve to 21-1 on the season.
Millard North: 26-14-20-20—80
Oak Hill Academy: 20-17-21-18—76
MN: Hunter Sallis 32, Saint Thomas 29, Tyler Sandoval 10, Jasen Green 6, Jadin Johnson 3
OHA: M.J. Rice 26, Jalen Ricks 13, AJ Williams 10, Caleb Foster 8, Jalen Reed 6, Camryn Carter 5, Justin McBride 4, Xavier Brown 2, Manny Okitondo 2
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.