Hastings St. Cecilia's Brayden Schropp takes contact along his way to the basket Wednesday in Utica. Photo credit: Steve Marik

Standouts: Centennial Boys Basketball Camp


For a basketball scrimmage at the end of June, Auburn and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family got after it on Wednesday in Utica — and it was pure entertainment.

Those two clubs combined to create what could be considered the showcase game of the Centennial boys basketball team camp at Centennial Public School. They both are coming off state championships — Auburn in Class C-1 and H/LHF in D-1 — and return playmakers.

After a slow first couple minutes where both teams looked to be feeling one another out, the action picked up. The leaders of each team started hitting big shots — Maverick and Ryan Binder for Auburn; the 6-foot-5 Sjuts brothers, Jason and Jacob, for H/LHF — but in the end, it was Jim Weeks’ Auburn team that went home with a 31-28 come-from-behind win.

A big part of that victory was a late 3-pointer from freshman-to-be Nixon Ligouri that gave Auburn a 29-28 edge with around 2 minutes left. Despite misses at the free-throw line in the final minute, Auburn was still able to defend its lead to earn the win.

Auburn and H/LHF were just two of the 13 total teams at the camp. The others included the host Broncos, as well as Alma, Ansley-Litchfield, Arlington, Crete, Deshler, Fairbury, Freeman, Hastings St. Cecilia, Harvard and Nebraska Lutheran.

Who were the players who stood out? Here’s a list:

2022 Centennial guard Jake Bargen

At 6-foot-3, Bargen looks the part of an athlete who hasn’t missed many days in the weight room. While he’s impressive physically, the senior-to-be’s game keeps getting better, too. On Wednesday, Bargen showed his strength by bumping his way to the hoop against defenders. He also provided a scoring presence from both the midrange and 3. Defensively, he was tough to get around. His defense against Freeman’s Carter Ruse was fun to watch. Bargen averaged 14 points and four rebounds per game last season for head coach Cam Scholl’s Broncos. Here are a few plays from Bargen:

2023 Freeman forward Carter Ruse

The kid’s a shooter, that was clear on Wednesday. The junior-to-be Ruse had it rolling at the camp and showed he can make shots from all over the court. In his game against Centennial, he hit his first three shots, two of which were from 3-point range. Later on in the day, he got the midrange game going, too. Freeman head coach Jim McLaughlin had a nice little out-of-bounds play where he continually got Ruse an open look at the free-throw line, and the 6-2 Ruse rose over his defender and buried the shot more times than not. He’ll be one of the key players again for a Freeman team that made the C-2 state tournament last March. Ruse averaged 12.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore. Here are a few of his plays from Wednesday:

2022 Auburn guard Ryan Binder

Binder played a large role both on offense and defense in Auburn’s win over H/LHF. He showed he can hurt a zone defense with the 3-pointer, and he scrapped on defense. He may have been the smallest player on the court against the Bulldogs, but he fought like heck against the bigger players he guarded. Watch him create a key turnover against H/LHF’s Jacob Sjuts with under a minute left in the game:

Oh, and the shot-making. Ryan, Cam Binder’s first cousin, was a zone-buster against H/LHF:

As for the other Binder on Auburn’s team, sophomore-to-be Maverick, who’s Cam’s younger brother, of course he was a standout on Wednesday. But nebpreps.com has already featured him this summer. Check out that breakdown right here.

The same is true for H/LHF’s Sjuts brothers and big man Ethan Keller, who all had great days at the camp. Those three tore it up at Grand Island Central Catholic earlier this month. Read about it here.

2023 Crete forward Jabin Gardiner

At 6-3, Gardiner provided a physical presence for a undermanned Crete team at the camp. The Cardinals only had five players to start, then added one more later on in the day. Gardiner, who averaged 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds as a sophomore last season, passed very well once he drew in the defense on drives to the hoop. If he didn’t dish the rock to a teammate, he showed nice footwork on those drives, and even used a smooth spin move on a couple plays. Check out a few of Gardiner’s highlights:

2024 Crete guard Aidan McDowell

Crete was a young team last season — its top six scorers all return in 2021-22 — and it was led by Gardiner and then-freshman guard Aidan McDowell. On Wednesday, McDowell showed he’s ready to shoulder the load again and is primed for a big sophomore campaign. McDowell shot the ball well and showed a nice handle while pushing the ball up the court. Check out a couple of McDowell’s makes:

2022 Fairbury forward Ethan Smith

At 6-4, Smith looked to be one of the main ball handlers for the Jeffs. He had a solid handle and ran the offense well. He also showed off his shooting range, which shouldn’t come as a surprise for opponents — he shot a team-best 36 percent (46 of 129) from 3 last season as a junior while averaging 13.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Smith also had a couple blocks on the day, which, again, shouldn’t come as a surprise when you see the kid’s length. Here’s an example of Smith’s range:

2022 Hastings St. Cecilia guard Brayden Schropp

Schropp was aggressive getting to the rim on Wednesday, and it was fun to watch. He looked comfortable dribbling with both hands and avoided defenders well once he took flight.

Last week, Centennial hosted a girls basketball team camp.



Standouts: York Girls Basketball Team Camp

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