Only two games into the season, Papillion-La Vista’s boys basketball team is already learning how to win the close one’s.
Braxton Murphy’s 3-pointer with two seconds left gave the Monarchs a 55-54 victory over Fremont in the Tipoff Classic championship game Saturday afternoon at Lincoln East. The victory came two days after the Monarchs edged Lincoln East 56-51 in the semifinals.
“We’re fortunate to be 2-0, but we could very easily be 0-2,” first-year Monarch head coach Dan Moore said. “We got put in a lot of different situations those first two games so it was good for us.”
Papio found itself trailing Fremont by seven points to open the fourth quarter and was still down four with a minute to play.
Tyler Dougherty hit a bucket to cut the lead in half and after Fremont missed two free throws with 20 seconds left, the Monarchs had their chance.
Dougherty had the ball under the basket with time running out before kicking it out to Murphy, who drained the trey with time running out.
“The kids never gave up,” Moore said. “They played hard for 32 minutes.”
Dougherty led four Monarchs in double figures with 16 points. Caleb Piatkowski finished with a dozen and Jack Kalina and Murphy each had 10. Dougherty, the only returning starter from last season’s state runner-up team, also collected 10 boards.
“I think Tyler’s one of the better players around and he’s matured as a player,” Moore said. “He’s our No. 1 option, but he’s not forcing things.”
Dougherty had a career-high 21 points against Lincoln East and was joined in double figures by Murphy with 13 and Kalina with 11. Dougherty also had eight boards.
Papio trailed 22-18 at the half before outscoring the Spartans 19-9 in the third.
The Monarchs welcome in No. 1 Benson Friday night at 7:15 p.m.