NORFOLK, Neb. — With its big man on the bench, Norfolk's little man stepped up his game.
Six-foot senior guard Brandon Villalpando scored 17 points to help the Panthers hold off a gritty PapillionLa Vista South team 57-46 in a Class A-5 semifinal game Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers advanced to play the winner of Saturday's other A-5 semifinal between Lincoln East and Lincoln High on Tuesday.
Leading 33-22 midway through the third period and Logan Strom headed to the bench with four fouls, Villalpando score 10 of Norfolk's next 11 points to help keep the Titans at bay.
"Logans's a big part of our team and he gets a lot of our rebounds too," said Villalpando, who also led Norfolk with eight rebounds. "So we all had to step up and get boards, and that put the scoring load on us as well."
Despite getting 15 minutes from their 6-foot-8 center due to foul trouble, the Panther outrebounded the Titans 30-13.
"I think our rebounding bailed us out tonight, and that was without Logan which was even more impressive from my perspective," Norfolk coach Ben Ries said. "Our guys battled on the glass. They didn't give up hardly any second chances."
Leading 41-36 with 3:25 remaining, Villalpando drove baseline and completed a three-point play to push the lead to eight.
"That was big. That's our senior stepping up for us," Ries said. "That 3-point play came when we really needed it. Brandon played well in the second half."
Villalpando said he didn't dwell on Saturday perhaps being his final home game.
"Before the game I was kind of thinking about it, but once you get on the court you're just playing," Villalpando said.
The visitors trailed 17-4 early on, and 38-25 late in the third quarter before making one final push. Six of 15 shooting from beyond the arc by the visitors in the second half kept things interesting down the stretch.
Nathan Jatczak and Quintin Van Ackerne led the Titans with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Van Ackeren, a senior, is the son of form Norfolk girls coach Jeremy Van Ackeren. A Van Ackeren 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining cut Norfolk's lead to 52-46.
"I'm disappointed in how we handed the last few minutes. We need to be tougher with the basketball, tougher on cuts, tougher on passes, smarter in how we finish games," Ries said. "Our guys have to be willing to clean those things up, especially going on the road for a district final."
Panther sophomore Matt Hagedorn finished with 13 points, including Norfolk's final five points in the final 1:25 to ice the win.
— Jay Prauner
FREMONT 83, OMAHA BRYAN 75
K'Zahn Jimerson and Ryan Williams each scored 17 to lead the No. 8 Tigers, who overcame Tre'vion Crawford's 24 points.
LINCOLN SOUTHEAST 54, BELLEVUE WEST 45
Trevor Dockum scored 19 points while Sam Morris added 15 for the Knights, AJ Jackson led Bellevue West with 12 points.
OMAHA CREIGHTON PREP 73, NORTH PLATTE 44
The second-ranked Junior Jays used a 12-0 second-quarter run to take control. Ethan Walz scored 18 and Nate Schimonitz added 17 for Prep, which advanced to the district final at 7 p.m. Monday against Lincoln Pius X.
LINCOLN PIUS X 69, OMAHA NORTH 65, OT
TJ Hansen hit a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force OT, and finished with 14 points for the Thunderbolts. Anthony Laravie scored 14 to pace the Vikings.
PAPILLION-LA VISTA 61, OMAHA BENSON 53
Chad Lechtenburg led the No. 3 Monarchs to the district final with 25 points. RoNeal Ross scored 18 and Tre'Vaun Henderson added 16 to lead the Bunnies.
LINCOLN EAST 76, LINCOLN HIGH 47
Clay Reimers scored 17 to lead the No. 7 Spartans. Aundra Gilbert and Jaylin Hunter each scored 21 for the Links.
MILLARD WEST 59, LINCOLN SOUTHWEST 39
Austin Hall scored 16 and Shae Wyatt added 13 for the Wildcats, who advanced to the district final against Lincoln Northeast at 7 p.m. Monday. Tyler Lenz finished with 12 to lead Southwest.
OMAHA CENTRAL 61, SOUTH SIOUX CITY 40
Isiah Poor Bear Chandler, with 16 points, was one of three scores in double figures for the fourth-ranked Eagles. Denten Porter led South Sioux with 10 points.
ELKHORN MOUNT MICHAEL 49, BLAIR 45
Mount Michael advanced to Monday's district final against Bennington at 5:30 p.m.
LEXINGTON 60, HOLDREGE 47 Andrew Saiz scored 24 points to lead the Minutemen, who will face Aurora at 6 p.m. Monday.