Class C-2: Ponca defeats Hastings St. Cecilia to earn repeat championship

Ponca's Dalton Tremayne pumps up his teammates before the game.

LINCOLN — Ponca rode a quick start to a second consecutive Class C-2 championship Saturday night.

The Indians scored the first eight points and never trailed in a 50-40 victory over Hastings St. Cecilia at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Ponca won its 30th game of the season, a record for a Class C-2 champion.

“Going down 8-0 really put us behind the eight ball,” Bluehawks coach Kevin Asher said. “We’d cut the deficit to one or two but nothing came easy for us tonight.”

The teams are two of the blue bloods of C-2, combining to win the past four championships. The Bluehawks won state titles in 2015 and 2016.

“Those are two prideful programs,” Asher said. “Ponca does things the right way, and they really make you work.”

Asher added that the Indians’ physicality inside gave his team problems. The Bluehawks took 42 shots , and 31 came from behind the 3-point arc.

“We had to settle for 3-pointers,” Asher said. “Having just 11 attempts that weren’t from out there is probably the lowest total we’ve had in the past 10 years.”

Fortunately for St. Cecilia, senior guard Trevor Leach was on his game. He had eight 3-pointers and finished with 18 in the tournament to set an all-class record.

“That No. 2 (Leach) is a heck of a shooter,” Ponca coach Adam Poulosky said. “We did just about everything to try and stop him.”

After Ponca jumped to that 8-0 advantage, the Bluehawks cut the deficit to 13-9 by the end of the first quarter. The Indians maintained their four-point advantage at halftime but it was three after three quarters.

Leach nailed three 3-pointers in the final period to account for all of St. Cecilia’s points but the Indians pulled away late by sinking their free throws — they made 12 in the final period.

“Defensively, I thought we did some really good things,” Poulosky said. “And offensively, we took care of the ball and hit our free throws.”

Those free throws were crucial. Ponca was 20 of 27 from the line, while St. Cecilia was 1 for 2.

Max Masin led the Indians with 16 points while Carter Kingsbury had 11.

Poulosky credited his team for its record-setting victory this season.

“These guys wanted to prove they were even better than last year,” he said. “We lost one game this season (52-50 against Winnebago) and I think they were even mad at that.”

After the game, it was Poulosky who had one of the nets draped around his neck — an honor usually reserved for a player.

“We thought he deserved it,” senior guard Logan Kingsbury said. “He got us here, and we feel like we have the best coaching staff in the state.”

Hastings St. Cecilia (24-4).......9 14 8 9—40

Ponca (30-1)....................13 14 7 16—50

HSC: Trevor Leach 8-17 0-0 24, Trey Asher 2-6 1-1 6, Ashton Valentine 2-4 0-1 4, Grant Farmer 0-6 0-0 0, Blaine Boyd 3-5 0-0 6, Joe Carey 0-1 0-0 0, Myles Furman 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 15-42 1-2 40.

Ponca: Dalton Tremayne 3-5 0-0 7, Connor Day 0-3 6-6 6, Logan Kingsbury 2-5 5-10 9, Max Masin 5-7 4-5 16, Carter Kingsbury 3-10 4-4 11, Brandon Kneifl 0-0 1-2 1, Evan Anderson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-31 20-27 50.

3-point goals: HSC 9-31 (Leach 8-17, Asher 1-5, Valentine 0-1, Furman 0-2, Farmer 0-6), P 4-13 (Masin 2-3, Tremayne 1-3, C. Kingsbury 1-5, L. Kingsbury 0-1, Anderson 0-1). Rebounds: HSC 29 (Furman 8), P 19 (Masin 5). Total fouls: HSC 22, P 11. Fouled out: Asher, Boyd. Turnovers: HSC 14, P 4. Field-goal percentage: HSC .357, P .419. Free-throw percentage: HSC .500, P .741.