A pair of sophomores filled up the box score for Beatrice, but it was a senior who made the key plays late.
Senior guard Rylee Zimmerman scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the fifth-ranked Orangemen rally for a 59-57 win against Omaha Gross Friday night at St. Bernadette Gym.
“Our sophomores took us a long ways, but you need a senior to take you home,” Beatrice coach Tyler Struck said. “Rylee was aggressive in overtime, and it came down to him hitting some big shots.”
Sophomore Landon Zarybnicky tied Zimmerman for the team lead with 17 points, while classmate Alec Cromer finished with 14 points, including six free throws in the final 63 seconds.
Gross controlled the game early and led 24-13 in the second quarter, but Zarybnicky helped the Orangemen rally. He scored seven points during the final 2:13 of the second quarter.
“Last year we didn’t see a lot of that (on offense),” Struck said. “As a sophomore, he’s grown up a lot. We saw a lot of potential in him, but that offensive piece is a new thing.”
Zarybnicky started the second half after beginning the game on the bench and picked up where he left off. The 6-foot-1 guard scored Beatrice’s first seven points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer to give Beatrice its second lead during regulation.
The Orangemen, who led for only a total of 1:34 during regulation, didn’t lead again until overtime.
As Zarybnicky cooled off, the Cougars’ Jake Hansen took over. The 6-3 guard made a 3 on the next possession to put Gross back on top. Hansen scored 15 points in the second half, including all seven of the Cougars’ points in the fourth quarter, and finished with a game-high 22.
“Hansen can play,” Struck said. “He made five or six shots that I don’t think I could make in an empty gym.”
Both teams had chances to win the game in regulation, but instead the final two possessions ended in turnovers — a travel by Gross and offensive foul by Beatrice.
A minute into overtime, Zimmerman connected on a 3-pointer that gave the Orangemen the lead for good. After a Gross miss, Beatrice burned 81 seconds off the clock on its next possession, which included an offensive rebound by Zarybnicky after Zimmerman missed two free throws.
Nick Wonder tried to keep Gross close after Hansen fouled out with nine points in overtime, but Beatrice made 10 of its final 12 free throws. Wonder finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“It’s good to play a good team like Beatrice early. You learn your strengths and weaknesses right away,” Gross coach Tim Powers said. “We learned that we have to get defensive stops down the stretch. We played good defense for the first 30 minutes and just had some lapses at the end.”
Beatrice (2-0) .................. 6 16 13 11 13—59
At Omaha Gross (0-1) .... 15 9 15 7 11—57
B: Hunter Zarybnicky 2, Ty Bardsley 5, Rylee Zimmerman 17, Reece Gronewold 4, Alec Cromer 14, Landon Zarybnicky 17.
OG: Jake Hansen 22, Logan Schlickbernd 6, Nick Wonder 14, Jeff Pospichal 3, Ethan Spires 2, Joe McCoy 5, Matt Herting 5.