Class C-2: Ponca tops Neligh-Oakdale for first state title in a decade

Ponca's Hunter Schweers, No. 15, takes a shot through Neligh-Oakdale's (from left) Tyson Belitz, Alex Kerman and Austin Rice.

LINCOLN — Ponca’s state title run was energized by instant offense from a freshman.

Carter Kingsbury capped his season by scoring 13 points off the bench to help No. 2 Ponca beat No. 4 Neligh-Oakdale 52-45 Saturday in the Class C-2 championship at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The 6-foot-3 freshman finished 4 of 8 on 3-point attempts.

“It’s absolutely huge,” Ponca coach Adam Poulosky said. “They were playing zone and sometimes in the past, zones have given us trouble, but not with Carter on the team.

“We’ve got guys who can penetrate, he can find an open spot and if he’s got room, it’s going in. It really gives us more flexibility on offense and it’s a big key for us.”

Logan Kingsbury paced Ponca (27-4) with a game-high 16 points, but the junior agreed that his younger brother gave the Indians a much-needed lift. Carter’s shooting success opened driving lanes for Logan, who ended 10 of 16 at the foul line.

“Anywhere past half court, he can shoot it,” Logan Kingsbury said of Carter.

Carter Kingsbury’s impact was felt early. He sank his first 3-pointer less than four minutes in and another with 1:56 left in the first quarter to give Ponca a 12-5 lead. Kingsbury made two 3s in a 50-second span in the fourth quarter, pushing the Indians’ lead to 38-32 with 4:06 remaining.

“It felt good,” Carter Kingsbury said of his offensive contribution. “I knew my teammates would find me on the 3-point line and I’d make it.”

Ponca hit 12 of 16 free throws in the final 2:40 to keep the Warriors at bay.

The other key to the game was Ponca’s ability to limit the one-two scoring punch of Grant White and Tyson Belitz. While both scored 14 points, that was 16 less than the 30 White tallied in a semifinal victory over two-time defending champ Hastings St. Cecilia.

White finished 2 of 8 from 3-point range and 4 of 12 overall. Belitz was 2 of 6 from beyond the arc and 3 of 11 from the floor. As a team, Neligh-Oakdale (26-4) shot 35.9 percent (14 of 39), was held to its second-lowest point total of the season and managed one offensive rebound.

“They’re great shooters and scorers,” Poulosky said of White and Belitz. “We felt like we really had to take it to them defensively, get rebounds … and limit them to one shot and take care of the ball on offense.”

Neligh-Oakdale coach Frank Gade credited Ponca for playing excellent ball-screen defense.

“It really eliminated what we usually get to do very easily and they just made it really difficult,” Gade said. “It’s a credit to Adam and their staff. They do a great job with their defense. It’s fantastic.”

The championship was the second for Ponca in 15 state tournament appearances. The Indians last won a state title when they took Class C-2 in 2007.

“It means the world,” Logan Kingsbury said. “Ponca has always had a great fan base and all we wanted to do was bring them another championship back to Ponca.”

Ponca (27-4)............................14  7 7 24—52

Neligh-Oakdale (26-4)................7 12 5 21—45

P: Dalton Tremayne 1-2 7-8 9, Hunter Schweers 1-3 2-2 4, Logan Kingsbury 3-7 10-16 16, Derrek Touney 1-4 0-0 3, Jack Charlson 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Lamprecht 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Day 3-6 1-2 7, Ryan Bentz 0-0 0-0 0, Max Masin 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Kingsbury 4-9 1-2 13. Totals 13-33 21-30 52.

NO: Grant White 4-12 4-5 14, Christopher Bentley 2-6 0-0 4, Tyson Belitz 3-11 6-6 14, Alex Kerkman 2-6 0-0 6, Austin Rice 1-1 0-0 2, Damon Arehart 0-0 0-0 0, Cole Belitz 0-0 0-0 0, Ashton Krebs 0-0 0-0 0, Clayton Anderson 1-2 0-0 3, Hunter Charf 0-0 0-0 0, Nathaniel Buck 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 14-39 10-11 45.

3-point goals: P 5-11 (C. Kingsbury 4-8 Touney 1-2, L. Kingsbury 0-1), NO 7-23 (T. Belitz 2-6, Kerkman 2-5, White 2-8, Anderson 1-2, Bentley 0-2). Fouled out: Rice. Rebounds: P 31 (Schweers 8), NO 21 (T. Belitz 9). Assists: P 6 (L. Kingsbury 3), NO 7 (T. Belitz 5). Turnovers: P 6, NO 6. Total fouls: P 12, NO 21. Technicals: none.

All-Class: Logan Strom, Norfolk; Ayo Akinwole, Papillion-La Vista; Kanon Koster, Kearney; Jaxon Simons, Wahoo Neumann; Dru Kuxhausen, Scottsbluff.

Class C-2: Logan Kingsbury, Ponca; Grant White, Neligh-Oakdale; Tyson Belitz, Neligh-Oakdale; Connor Day, Ponca; Blane Boyd, Hastings St. Cecilia. 

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