Four Omaha Central graduates teamed up to produce a familiar result at the Nebraska Black Sports Hall of Fame boys all-star basketball game.
Behind the Central quartet, the West squad raced to a 31-point halftime lead on its way to an 85-62 victory Saturday night at Benson High School.
“It brought back a lot of memories of my high school days,” said Tra-Deon Hollins, who scored 26 points and was named the game's most valuable player. “It made me miss Central again.”
The core of Saturday's West team was Hollins, KJ Scott, Nick Billingsley and Deandre Hollins-Johnson, who helped Central win its fourth consecutive Class A state championship in March.
Those four combined to score 64 points Saturday.
“We always like it any time we can play again,” said Hollins, who will play at Central Community College in Columbus next season.
Hollins made his first five shots as his team quickly gained control. The West led 36-9 after back-to-back dunks by Billingsley, and it was up 49-18 at halftime. Hollins was 8 of 9 from the field and had 19 points in the opening half.
Behind Omaha South guard Bobby Lage, the East cut into the lead early in the second half. Lage, who led the East with 18 points, made three 3-pointers in the first two minutes after halftime as its deficit was sliced to 57-45 with 12 minutes to play.
But the margin stayed in double digits the rest of the way as breakaway dunks and alley-oops were the norm in the final 10 minutes. The West had 14 dunks on the night.
“Over the years, we've all been battling each other, so it's great to come up against these guys one last time,” Hollins said of playing against Metro Conference opponents. “It was really loose, but nobody wants to lose.”
West ........................... 49 36—85
East ........................... 18 44—62
W: Nick Billingsley (Central) 8-17 0-2 16, Najee Jackson (Lincoln SE) 0-1 0-0 0, KJ Scott (Central) 6-15 1-1 14, Deandre Hollins-Johnson (Central) 3-12 0-2 8, Aaron Walker (Lincoln SE) 2-5 1-1 5, Tra-Deon Hollins (Central) 11-17 1-1 26, Aireon Porter (O. North) 7-13 2-2 16. Totals 37-79 5-9 85.
E: Bobby Lage (O. South) 7-20 0-0 18, Marquise Collins (O. South) 5-10 2-2 12, Moe Niang (Bellevue East) 2-7 0-1 4, Will Curtis (Benson) 7-15 0-1 17, Deon Wells-Ross (Benson) 3-8 1-4 7, Tre Bush (Northwest) 1-5 1-4 4. Totals 25-65 4-12 62.
Burke's Williams lifts East girls in overtime
Omaha Burke's Jerrica Williams wasn't counted on as a long-range shooter in high school.
“Threes weren't my thing,” Williams said. “I played my first three years as a post and last year was my first year at shooting guard.”
Williams' perimeter game made the difference during the girls all-star basketball game as she hit three 3s, including the game-winner with 7.2 seconds left in overtime as the East team won 63-62.
The East never led until Williams hit her jumper from the top of the key.
“It felt good. I'm like hyper about it,” said Williams, who earned the game's most valuable player award. “All that adrenaline starts pumping once you hit it. After that, we had seven seconds left. All we had to do on (defense) was hold them.”
The West had an attempt to win in the final seconds, but Taylor Bahensky's 25-foot attempt rimmed off at the buzzer.
The East team fought an uphill battle all game. It trailed 32-22 at halftime, and the West stretched its lead to 41-26 early in the second half.
Sylvia Smith-Gatson, who scored a game-high 29 points, appeared to put the finishing touches on a West win after she hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 54-43 with 2:45 left. Smith-Gatson had 23 second-half points, including four 3-pointers.
With the East still down 58-50 with 40 seconds left, Williams and Central's Paige Muhammad hit 3-pointers to make it 58-56. Millard North's Kenae Merritt then rattled in a 12-footer at the buzzer to force overtime.
The West had two-point leads twice in overtime before Williams sank the game-winning shot.
“I didn't want to lose,” said Williams, who hopes to walk on at UNO next season. “I don't like to lose and none of my teammates like to lose.”
West ........................... 32 26 4—62
East ........................... 22 36 5—63
W: Qwenyona Evans (Bryan) 2-4 1-2 5, Aliyah Brown (Burke) 2-7 0-0 4, Ashley Collins (O. North) 2-9 2-2 8, Sylvia Smith-Gatson (Central) 9-15 6-9 29, Naeney Williams (Bellevue East) 3-12 0-0 7, Taylor Bahensky (Millard North) 4-11 0-0 9. Totals 22-58 9-13 62.
E: Imani White (O. North) 4-10 0-0 10, Jerrica Williams (Burke) 6-16 0-0 15, Kenae Merritt (Millard North) 4-11 0-0 8, Sidni Trotter (Bellevue East) 3-9 0-0 8, LaVonzelle Brown (Northwest) 3-7 2-2 8, Paige Muhammad (Central) 6-16 0-0 14. Totals 26-69 2-2 63.
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