The 2021 boys’ state basketball tournament is in its second day. Here’s a quick roundup of all the action at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
Waverly 41, Omaha Skutt Catholic 40
Thanks to the heroics of senior Andrew Heffelfinger, the Waverly Vikings are headed to the state semifinals after knocking off the Skutt SkyHawks 41-40 in a thrilling opening game at PBA.
The 6-foot-3 Heffelfinger led everyone with 14 points and was the one who scored the game-winning mid-range jumper over Skutt’s 6-5 big Luke Skar with around two seconds left in the game.
On Skutt’s ensuing full-court inbounds pass, Heffelfinger knocked the ball loose. Skutt tried to save the ball before going out of bounds, but was unsuccessful, giving possession back to head coach Ryan Reeder’s Vikings.
Preston Harms chipped in with nine points for Waverly. Skutt’s James Gninefou and Charlie Fletcher each scored nine.
Beatrice 49, Mount Michael 39
In the second upset of the day following Waverly over Skutt, the No. 6-seeded Beatrice Orangemen advanced to the Class B state semifinals after a 49-39 win over No. 3 Mount Michael Benedictine.
A Kaden Glynn drive and dish to Bennett Crandall as time expired gave Beatrice an 18-15 lead at halftime. The Orangemen continued to play well in the second half and held a 33-26 edge at the end of the third. Mount Michael was forced to play the foul game for much of the final eight minutes, but Beatrice tightly held on to its lead and was on top 43-34 with two minutes remaining.
A 3-pointer from Mount Michael cut its deficit to 43-37 with a minute and a half left, but head coach Clark Ribble’s Orangemen made their free throws in the final moments to seal the win and send them to Friday’s semifinals against Waverly.
Beatrice was led in scoring by Crandall, who had 19 points. Devin Smith added 15. Mount Michael’s Airan Lopez and Brad Bennett each had eight points.
Auburn 51, Pierce 28
It was clear who the better team was after the first quarter had been played in the C-1 quarterfinal between top-seeded Auburn and No. 8 Pierce.
All-state guard Cam Binder and Auburn led 11-2 at that point, and there was no looking back for head coach Jim Week’s Bulldogs, who have won the past two C-1 championships.
Auburn went on to lead 21-6 at the half and 34-14 at the end of the third along the way to a dominating 51-28 win. The victory keeps the Bulldogs undefeated at 24-0 and sends them to the semifinals on Friday at 9 a.m.
Binder, a Nebraska-Kearney commit, scored 14 points while Daniel Frary added a game-high 18. Pierce’s Dawson Watts scored nine points.
Omaha Concordia 66, Milford 54
From the jump, these teams were aggressive and went after tough baskets. Milford hit the boards hard and converted multiple and-ones. With two minutes left in the first Milford led Omaha Concordia 18-7. After a small run to close the quarter from Concordia, it still found itself trailing with Milford on top 20-11 at the break.
To start the second, neither team could buy a basket until Concordia’s Zach Kulus hit a corner 3 to close the gap to just four points. With four minutes to go in the half, Karsten Mathsen hit a deep 3 to tie the game at 20, and Concordia was on a 9-0 run. The second stanza was all Concordia. The Mustangs outscored the Eagles 15-3 to take a 26-23 edge.
After back-to-back triples from Mathsen and Ian Groninga to open the half, Concordia stretched its lead to double digits, 33-23. Concordia continued to push the pace, increasing its lead to 42-25. At the end of the third, Concordia led 42-28.
Both teams opened up the final quarter hitting every shot they took, and the Mustangs led 57-39. With every push Milford made to cut into the lead, Concordia had an answer. Under two minutes left Concordia closed the game at the stripe. With the 66-54 win, Concordia moves on to face top-seeded Auburn in the semifinals.
Justin Otten led Concordia with 19 points while Mathsen added 17 and Zach Kulus 15. Malcolm’s Seth Stutzman scored a game-high 26 with Jaxon Weyand chipping in with 11.
Wayne 59, Kearney Catholic 52
Behind 18 points from junior Brandon Bartos, the No. 7-seeded Wayne Blue Devils upset the No. 2 Kearney Catholic Stars 59-52.
In the first quarter, Kearney Catholic’s size proved tough for the Wayne Blue Devils. However, Wayne took an early 8-4 lead. Kearney took the lead with two minutes left in the first after big shots from Logan O’Brien and Garret Schmaderer. With two big baskets from Jacob Phelps, Wayne regained the lead and closed the first up 14-9.
Wayne came out firing in the second, going on a 7-2 run led by Colton Vovos. Tanner Walling extended the Wayne lead to 11 after a deep triple, giving the Blue Devils a 24-13 lead. Quarter two went back-and-forth. Walling closed the second much as he did in the first, hitting a free throw. The Blue Devils led the Stars 29-22 at the half.
The third was a defensive battle for both teams. The score after four minutes stood at 30-24. After three consecutive turnovers by the Blue Devils, the Stars shifted the momentum in their favor only down two points with three minutes remaining in the third. Brett Mahony grabbed the offensive rebound, put in the tough layup, and converted the and-one free throw to take the lead, 31-30. To close the third, Bartos hit a 30-plus foot 3-pointer from the logo as time expires to give Wayne the 35-33 edge.
Adams Central 63, St.Paul 56
In the final game of the night, the Adams Central Patriots jumped out to an early 9-5 lead over the St.Paul Wildcats. As the first quarter progressed the teams matched each other bucket for bucket, St.Paul with a slim one-point lead, up 15-14. As the quarter closes Thomas Wroblewski and Tyler Slechta trade three-pointers, St.Paul up 18-17.
Halfway through the second quarter, things get chippy between the Patriots and the Wildcats as Tyler Slechta gets called for a technical foul after a Wildcat hits the deck hard. Andy Poss ties it up at 24. On the following possession, Poss hits a pull-up three giving St.Paul the lead, 27-24. With the clock winding down Tyler Slechta drives to the hoop and converts the tough layup putting Adams Central up 33-31.
Two minutes into the second half all tied at 35. A step back three from Andy Poss puts the Wildcats up 38-35. Tyler Slechta looked like a quarterback out on the court, throwing a deep outlet pass to Paul Fago from the opposite baseline for an easy layup, Patriots up 39-38. With 4 seconds on the clock Logan Vogel gets a block, Andy Poss tosses it ahead to a wide-open Thomas Wroblewski who converts the layup as the clock hits all zeros. The Wildcats headed into the fourth with a 44-41 lead over the Patriots.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter Paul Fago gives Adams Central the lead, 45-44. With just over two minutes remaining Paul Fago hit a corner three giving Central a four-point lead, 48-44. 33 seconds remaining Logan Vogel ties it up at 48 off a sweet spin move. A wild last 4 seconds ended with a near-half-court bucket from Cameron Foster. The final game of the night heads to overtime with a trip to the semifinals on the line.
Andy Poss opens OT with a runner and gets fouled, converts the and-one, St.Paul up 51-48. Cameron Foster hit a three-pointer from about six feet behind the arc, Central up 53-51. Lucas Bohlen nails six straight key free throws putting Central up 59-51. With 37 seconds left Lucas Bohlen headed back to the line, adding two more points to his phenomenal OT point total, Patriots lead 62-54. For Adams Central, the game was won at the charity stripe. With the 63-56 win, Adams Central moves on to face the #7 seed Wayne Blue Devils.