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Bellevue West senior Josiah Dotzler. Photo Credit: Mac Johnson Media
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Four National Teams Highlight 2023 Heartland Hoops Classic


Four national teams will play in five games over two days at the 2023 Heartland Hoops Classic this weekend in Grand Island. GEICO Nationals participant, and nationally ranked No. 4, Sunrise Christian Academy headlines the field that will play at Hastings College on Friday night and the Heartland Events Center on Saturday.

The event kicks off on Friday night when Bishop Walsh (MD) takes on Chicago Sports Academy at 6:00 followed by Sunrise Christian Academy (KS) playing Real Salt Lake Academy (UT) at 7:30.

Four in-state games kick off the Saturday event at the Heartland Events Center, beginning at 9:50 a.m.

The Games

9:40 a.m. | Class C-2, No. 2 Freeman (20-1) vs. Class C-1, No. 6 Central City (19-2): A good gauge for where we might stand in Class C in Saturday’s opening game. Freeman brings a 20-1 record and is behind No. 1 Doniphan-Trumbull in the Class C-2 rankings. Both of the Central City’s losses this season have come to D-T. Ayden Zikmund averages 21.7 points per game for the Bison, while Freeman is allowing just 35.6 points per game defensively.

11:20 a.m. | Class B, No. 4 Platteview (16-4) vs. Class A, Grand Island (4-15): Platteview is led by Dordt signee Connor Millikan. Millikan, a senior is averaging 25.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. Senior Trey Moseman is second on the team in scoring (10.8). Senior center Kazadi Mukoma Jr. leads the Islanders in scoring (13.2) and rebounds (6.4).

1:00 p.m. | Class C-1, No. 1 Wahoo (18-1) vs. Class A, North Platte (12-6): Wahoo has defeated nine Class B teams this season. Saturday, the Warriors get their first crack at a Class A school. Wahoo is a fairly balanced team that has seven players averaging more than 10 minutes per game. Junior Marcus Glock leads the Warriors in scoring (16.7). Senior Benji Nelson is second on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game. North Platte senior River Johnston leads the team in scoring (18.4) and assists (3.9). Senior Carter Kelley leads the team in rebounds (5.6) and second on the team in scoring (12.8).

2:45 p.m. | Class C-2, No. 9 Gordon-Rushville (13-3) vs. Class C-2, Grand Island Central Catholic (7-12): After advancing to a district final game last year, Gordon-Rushville is looking to take the step to Lincoln in a few weeks. Three seniors’ average double figures for G-R led by Jace Nelson’s 19.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Carter Anderson (13.2) and Ellis Livingston (12.4) also average in double figures. The battle-tested Crusaders are led by Ishmael Nadir’s 14.3 points per game and 6-8 center Bowdie Fox averages 9.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest.

4:30 p.m. | Class A, No. 6 Omaha Westside (13-6) vs. Real Salt Lake Academy (17-7): Junior forward Kevin Stubblefield leads the Warriors in scoring (15.5) and rebounds (5.7). Senior and Colorado Christian signee Tate Odvody is second on the team in scoring (14.8) and rebounds (4.2).

Real Salt Lake is led by 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard JJ Mandaquit. Mandaquit is averaging 16 points, 4.8 assists and three steals per game. Mandaquit currently holds offers from Washington State, Stanford, Hawaii and Portland. Sophomore guard JJ Apothjang (6-4) is averaging 9.7 points per game and is likely a Division I prospect. Junior Stephen Osei is a 6-10 post that holds an offer from Division I Incarnate Word. Osei has filled in nicely for Utah signee David Katoa who was lost to the season due to injury.

6:15 p.m. | Class A, No. 1 Bellevue West (20-0) vs. Bishop Walsh, Cumberland, MD (7-17): Bellevue West is led by senior guard Josiah Dotzler. The Creighton signee leads the team in scoring (15.7), assists (5.3) and steals (2.4). Junior Jaden Jackson who has garnered interest from the likes of Drake, South Dakota State, South Dakota and Omaha is second on the team in scoring (15) and steals (2.4). Sophomore Robby Garcia is the third T-Bird averaging double figures (10.4) and is the team’s leader in rebounds (6.3).

Bishop Walsh’s record is deceiving. In their first year playing in the NIBC (National Interscholastic Basketball Conference) against some of the nation’s best high school and Prep school teams, the Spartans are 0-8 in league play. They are led by senior guard Mike Williams III. The LSU signee is averaging 14 points per game in NIBC league play. Listed at 6-8, junior Emanuel Okitondo is second on the team in scoring 10.6 points while leading the team in rebounding (6.7) in NIBC play. Okintondo, a transfer from Oak Hill Academy, holds offers from Rutgers and a handful of mid major schools. Freshman guard Jasiah Cannady holds offers from Virgnia Tech, Georgia Tech, Kansas State and Mississippi State. Senior guard Mikkel Tyne (5-10) is a bit undersized but a terrific perimeter defender.

8:00 p.m. | Chicago Prep Sports Academy (16-7) vs. Sunrise Christian (14-6): Chicago Prep was a last-minute change to the schedule after Huntington Prep backed out due to mounting injuries. Chicago Prep is led by junior guard Isaiah Cortez who is averaging 23.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

Sunrise has been the headliner for what seems like years at the Heartland Hoops Classic. The Buffaloes are currently 6-4 in NIBC play and are led by senior Matas Buzelis. The five-star prospect and McDonalds All-American will bypass playing collegiately and sign with G-League Ignite. The 6-10 wing chose the professional path over offers from Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida State and Wake Forest. He also received scholarship offers from Duke, Arizona, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, UCLA, Kansas.

Senior point guard Layden Blocker is another five-star player that his signed with Arkansas. Senior four-star Scotty Middleton is a long, athletic defender that is headed to Ohio State. Senior Almar Atlison is a 6-8 stretch forward with mid-major interest from the likes of UC Santa Barbara, San Diego, Furman, Samford and Bradley. Sophomore guard Mikel Brown is a talented point guard and likely the next big name to come out of Sunrise.

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