(Articles and recaps appeared originally in The Grand Island Independent and were written by Bob Hamar) Omaha South gave the No. 1-ranked team in the nation all it wanted in the final game of the Heartland Hoops Classic Saturday night at the Heartland Events Center. But Oak Hill Academy had just enough to come away with a 59-54 victory over the Packers, who are the No. 2-ranked team in Nebraska behind unbeaten Norfolk.
Oak Hill’s Dwayne Bacon, a Florida State commit, led all scorers with 32 points. He was the only Warrior player to score in double figures. Omaha South coach Bruce Chubick Sr. said he knew the Packers had an uphill battle ahead of them in the eyes of most people against a team that probably has at least a couple of future NBA players.
“Here’s my take. There wasn’t a person in the arena that thought we had a prayer, including you guys (the media). Not anybody thought we had a prayer,” Chubick said. “The only guys who thought we had a chance were the guys in that room and the coaches.”
The game was tied deep into the fourth quarter, and Omaha South had the lead at 50-48 after two free throws by Karlon McSpadden with 3:27 left on the clock. It was tied later at 54 before Joshua Reaves, a future Penn State player, hit a 3-pointer, then made 1 of 2 from the line for a 58-54 Oak Hill lead with 47 seconds left. Terrence Phillips, who is committed to Missouri, hit another free throw in the closing seconds to put the game away. McSpadden led the Packers with 19 points while Anthony Naimie had 13 points and Monte’ McGary had 11.
Chubick said he certainly thought the Packers had a shot coming in to win the game.
“I watched tape of them at 3 in the morning,” Chubick said. “I quit watching. I thought, ‘These guys are good.’ Then I thought, you know what? If we play like we play, with the the work ethic we have, we’ll have a shot.”
This was the end of a long, tough road trip for Oak Hill.
“I’m tired. They say they’re fine,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “I’m an old guy. It affects me more than it does them. We didn’t practice today. We practiced last night when we got here. I wanted to make sure they got their legs and were fresh when the game started. That didn’t seem to work either.”
The top six Oak Hill players have all committed to Division I schools, so Smith said they need to be used to playing a tough schedule. “We have played a lot of games in the last two weeks,” Smith said. “It’s tough to get up every night, but they have to do that. These guys are all going to high major programs so they have to play every night.”
Oak Hill (41-0) 12 20 14 13—59
Omaha South (17-3) 19 12 16 7—54
OAK HILL — Giddens 6, Phillips 3, Bacon 32, Hampton 2, Wigginton 4, Alexander 7, Reaves 5. OMAHA SOUTH — McSpadden 19, McGary 11, Walker 8, Fant 3, Naimie 13.
Omaha Skutt 61, Norfolk Catholic 48
Returning all-stater Wills Wallrapp netted 25 points and 5-7 sophomore Matt Harrison had 17 in Class B No. 3 Omaha Skutt’s 61-48 win over Class C-1 No. 10 Norfolk Catholic. Beatrice, which owns two wins over the SkyHawks (14-6), is the only team to beat the defending state champion since Christmas. Norfolk Catholic (12-12) was playing its second Class B top-three team in less than 24 hours. The Knights lost Friday night at home to No. 1 Gretna. “We thought we could wear them down, since they played last night,” said Skutt coach Kyle Jurgens, who scouted the Gretna game.
Skutt 61, Norfolk Catholic 48
Omaha Skutt (14-6 18 17 14 12—61
Norfolk Catholic (12-12) 10 12 13 13—48
S: Wills Wallrapp 25, Matt Harrison 17, Nick Bouda 6, Jake Billerbeck 6, Isaiah Ramsey 5, Christian Banker 2 NC: Myles Vrbka 11, Jacob Beller 8, Matt Miller 6, David Engelhaupt6, Beau Schommer 5, Nate Flaherty 4, Seth Montag 4, Nathan Boyle 2, Jacob Molacek 2
Hastings St. Cecilia 64, BDS 38
It took a few minutes for Hastings St. Cecilia to find its legs Saturday at the Heartland Hoops Classic, but once the Bluehawks did so, they took care of things matter of factly against Bruning-Davenport-Shickley.
Efficient was the word to describe St. Cecilia’s 64-38 victory. The Bluehawks shot 51 percent from the field and went 17-of-22 from the line, while turning the ball over only four times. Meanwhile, the defense was making life challenging, to say the least, for the Eagles. BDS was limited to just seven field goals for the game, including two in the second half. The Eagles picked up their scoring at the line, hitting 22-of-28 shots, but it was nowhere near enough to keep them in contention. Independent Article.
Amherst 80, Ravenna 58
Two days after pushing Class B No. 9 Adams Central to the limit before falling by a point, Class C-2 Ravenna faced Class D-1 No.7 Amherst.
That game didn’t go nearly as well for the Bluejays.
Amherst made 30-of-52 shots from the field, including 13 for 22 from 3-point territory, and raced away to an 80-58 victory over Ravenna Saturday in the opening game of the Heartland Hoops Classic Saturday at the Heartland Events Center. Independent Article.
Elkhorn South 75, Columbus Scotus 60
Johnny Trueblood bested Grant Lahm, scoring a Heartland Hoops Classic-record 42 points as Elkhorn South regained some respect for Class B against Class C-1 with a 75-60 victory over Columbus Scotus. Trueblood had 21 points in each half. Lahm started with 18 in the first half and finished with 31.
Elkhorn South 75, Scotus 60
Elkhorn South (15-4) 16 20 19 20—75
Columbus Scotus (17-4) 14 14 15 17—60
ES: Johnny Trueblood 42, Justin Costello 13, Zane Anderson 7, Michael Kardell 5, Jace Patras 3, Chase Denton 2, Chad Carlos 3 CS: Grant Lahm 31, Dalton Taylor 16, Cody Mrozcek 6, Garrit Shanle 3, Miles Putnam 2, Nathan Ostdiek 2
GICC 53 Aurora 37
Aurora’s Austin Allen and Grand Island Central Catholic’s Youhanna Ghaifan staged an inside battle in Saturday’s game at the Heartland Hoops Classic. Ghaifan scored 21 points with 11 rebounds while Allen had 17 points and nine rebounds, but in the end it was the Class C-1 No. 4 Crusaders coming away with a 53-47 victory over the Huskies.
Allen, a 6-8 sophomore, had a little height advantage on Ghaifan, a senior listed at 6-5. But Ghaifan, a Wyoming football recruit, definitely had the advantage of strength and physical maturity.
“He’s getting better and better,” Aurora coach Tom Leininger said of Allen. “The bad thing is he’s a sophomore who’s not really mature enough to be down there physically, but he is because he understands the game so well. Another year, another two years in the weight room and he’ll really be able to compete down there.”
Central Catholic coach Tino Martinez said Allen was a challenge for Ghaifan to defend.
“He’s a little bit bigger guy than we’re used to contending with, but Youhanna is usually up to the task in those situations,” Martinez said. “I thought he did a pretty good job. Allen is going to get some points. He’s just pretty skilled as a 6-8 guy. They do a good job looking for him.”
Ghaifan was nearly perfect from the field at 8 for 9, and the one he missed he got the rebound and converted into a traditional 3-point play.
“We’ve had him for four years,” Martinez said. “He’s a four-year starter for us, so our kids have become accustomed to probing the interior with their eyes and that’s their first look. At least that’s how we try to train them. We do a pretty good job of looking for him.
“At times we do miss him. We’re not going to see him 100 percent of the time, and then he’s a really good finisher around the rim. Sometimes you’re a little more willing to look in there if you know he’s going to finish.”
The Crusaders (18-5) took the lead with 5 minutes left in the second quarter and led the rest of the way, but they could never put the Huskies away. GICC held a 46-38 lead with 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Allen scored on a jumper and Todd Honas scored two straight baskets to get Aurora back to within 47-44 at the 1:10 mark.
GICC’s Tate Heidelk took control from there at the free-throw line. Heidelk, who was 7 for 8 from the line in the fourth quarter, hit four straight in the final minute and Eli Hunter had two more to help the Crusaders hang on. Martinez said he wants Heidelk on the floor late in close games. Heidelk hit some late free throws to help the Crusaders knock off Adams Central in January.
“He’s probably the most poised free-throw shooter we have,” Martinez said. “In our win over Adams Central, he probably sealed the deal with free throws. He’s just got that thing you really don’t coach. He’s just got confidence at the line. He wants the ball in those situations and cherishes those opportunities and he usually comes through.”
Both Ghaifan and Allen ended up fouling out in the final minute of play. That’s nothing new for Ghaifan, who has had his share of foul trouble this year. Martinez said most of the referees they have had this year were very good, and the ones Saturday were “great.”
“…But sometimes the biggest guy on the floor gets penalized for being big with people bouncing off him,” Martinez said. “He’s had to deal with a lot of different things like that this year.” Aurora finished the game 19 for 48 from the floor and 5 for 18 from 3-point land.
“We thought it would be a four-quarter game,” Leininger said. “The plot we didn’t see was the poor shooting we did. We shot the ball as poorly as we have for quite some time. Part of that was probably them speeding us up. The 3s I thought we had were wide open. We just didn’t hit them.”