LINCOLN — Howells-Dodge is a team with high expectations in the first year as a consolidated school, and Friday night, the Jaguars played like it in a D-1 semifinal.
No. 2 Howells-Dodge beat Burwell 56-42 at Pershing Center to set up a match-up of unbeatens in the D-1 title game Saturday against No. 1 Paxton.
Many of the Jaguars have title game experience since Howells was the D-2 runner-up last season, but Howells-Dodge coach Cole Fischer says this year’s new team has quickly become a family with big goals.
“The boys, we’ve talked about it a lot, and they want it so bad, and they expect to be there, that’s the big thing. They expect to be in the state championship game,” Fischer said. “We’ve accomplished half of our goal.”
Nine Howells-Dodge (28-0) players scored in a balanced effort, led by 15 points from 6-foot-4 junior Luke Hegemann, who added eight rebounds. Senior Mat Gooch chipped in nine points and 11 rebounds, while Trevor Blum and Brady Brester each scored seven points.
Howells-Dodge bullied the ball inside for short-range baskets, and when they missed, the Jaguars were more likely than not to grab an offensive rebound. Howells-Dodge used a 13-2 run to lead 23-13 in the second quarter, then put together an 8-0 spurt after Burwell cut the lead to 35-30 midway through the third quarter.
“We cut off their dribble penetration in the second half. They got us on that a little bit in the first half,” Fischer said. “And we reacted to adversity very, very well. They got within five in the third quarter, then Luke came out and hit an and-1 shot. Then, we put back-to-back threes in. That was the biggest deal, we reacted to adversity very well.”
Senior Nate Nelson scored 17 points to lead Burwell (25-3), which will play in Saturday’s 2 p.m. consolation game vs. O’Neill St. Mary’s. Blake Jeffres, the Longhorns’ leading scorer at 18.7 points per game, had 11, but was held to just five points through the first three quarters.
“They’re just so big and quick, they can stay in front of you and if our guy gets by you, they’ve got another guy to help,” Burwell coach Garrett Mann said. “They’re a very strong and athletic team.”
Burwell (25-3) ................ 13 11 12 6—42
Howells-Dodge (28-0) ... 16 16 13 11—56
B: Nate Nelson 17, Blake Jeffres 11, Alec Galvan 7, Keaton Klimek 4, Will McClintic 3.
HD: Luke Hegemann 15, Mat Gooch 9, Trevor Blum 7, Brady Brester 7, Casey Sisnieski 6, Ben Kuhen 5, Jesse Faltys 4, Logan Kampschneider 2, Mitchell Prusa 1.
Officials: Dave Bryant, Greg Hardin, Todd Yorges.
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