A 10-year wait is over for the Papillion-La Vista South boys basketball program.
For the first time in school history, the Titans will take a team to the state tournament after defeating Omaha Bryan 49-37 in the District A-6 championship game Tuesday night at Bellevue East.
“It's been a long 10 years,” Titan coach Joel Hueser said. “It's very gratifying because these kids have persevered and this isn't just for this group, but for the kids that have been here before.”
The Cinderella story of the this year's district tournaments entered the postseason with a 7-15 mark, but an upset of top-seeded North Platte on Saturday night had them believing this was their time.
“North Platte is a good team and after we beat them, we knew we could do it,” junior forward Michael Herrmann said.
Herrmann was instrumental in Papio South's victory. He scored a game-high 18 points, 10 in the first half as the Titans built a 19-11 lead they would not relinquish.
“Michael has really embraced the paint and he plays so strong,” Hueser said. “The kids did a great job of getting it inside to him.”
Herrmann carried the load in the first half, but it was sophomore guard Aaron Rothermund who took over in the second.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Rothermund scored nine of South's 11 third-quarter points as it maintained a 30-22 lead. He joined Herrmann in double figures with 14 for the game.
Bryan (9-15) got as close as seven in the final period, but one of the Bears' worst shooting nights of the season prevented them from getting any closer.
The Bears were 4 of 20 from the field in the first half and finished 15 of 47. Kaliq Johnson was the only Bear to hit double figures, finishing with 10 points.
“Our shots weren't falling, but they had something to do with that,” Bryan coach Tim Cannon said. “They played very hard defensively.”
Cannon and his team, which had a first-round upset of its own over Omaha North, was denied its eighth state appearance in the past nine years.
“If we couldn't win it, Joel is a good guy to lose it to,” Cannon said. “It couldn't happen to a better guy and I'm really happy for him and his team.”
The Titans are projected to face three-time defending champion Omaha Central in the 9 a.m. tourney opener on March 7.
“It's another opportunity, and the kids deserve this,” Hueser said.
Omaha Bryan (9-15).................8 3 11 15—37
Papillion-LV South (9-15).........10 9 11 19—49
OB: JJ Williams 2, OJ Thok 6, Kaliq Johnson 10, Ju-Wan Bufford 3, Warol Gatdit 2, Goy Doluony 3, Evan Drake 6, Oswaldo Carmona 5.
PS: Brent Kirsch 5, John Swift 2, Aaron Rothermund 14, Michael Herrmann 18, Tyler Johnson 8, Isiah Martin 2.