PONCA — The first time Laurel-Concord-Coleridge trailed by more than a couple possessions at defending Class C-2 champion Ponca, the Bears rallied to take a one-point lead at halftime.
The Indians made sure there was no repeat of that in the final minutes.
Brandon Kneifl scored a team-best 23 points, including 10 in a three-minute span of the third quarter, and he got steals on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter to kick-start a game-ending 10-2 run as preseason Class C No. 3 Ponca wore down No. 5 LCC 70-56 in a battle of undefeated Lewis & Clark Conference boys basketball teams Tuesday night.
“We talked about how this was going to be a four-quarter basketball game,” Ponca coach Adam Poulosky said. “They're a very talented team. They were going to make runs and hit shots.”
The biggest stretch of the game came with less than four minutes left.
LCC junior Noah Schutte, who had game-highs of 30 points and 10 rebounds, turned in a conventional 3-point play with 3:35 left, and then he scored again off a steal just 34 seconds later to put the Bears within 60-54 after Ponca had led by as many as 13.
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Freshman Evan Haisch grabbed a loose ball for a steal on the next possession, but a missed layup changed the momentum.
Carter Kingsbury, who had two points in the first three quarters combined, came through with a driving layup off a Kneifl steal with 2:06 left. Evan Anderson benefited from another Kneifl steal with a short jumper at the 1:42 mark, and Kingsbury hit six-straight free throws in a span of 25 seconds to close out the victory.
Ponca enjoyed an offensively balanced night. In addition to Kneifl's 23, Anderson finished with 15, McGill 13 and Kingsbury 10 despite being the focal point of LCC's box-and-one defense. The Indians finished 26 of 49 (53.1 percent) from the field, including 8 of 14 from 3-point range.
For LCC, it was a stark contrast offensively from its 5-0 start to the season. The Bears averaged 82.8 points in five games, and exceeded 82 four times with the lone outlier a 69-23 victory over Emerson-Hubbard last Friday. Coming in, the Bears' closest game was a 21-point win over Crofton.
“Ponca's a great team, and they held us up. No matter how much we talk about it, it's always a little bit of a shock for our kids,” LCC coach Todd Erwin said. “They play great man defense.”
LCC went 21 of 48 (43.8 percent) from the field, but that was bolstered by Schutte hitting 12 of 17 shots. Ty Erwin added 10 points, all in the second half.
The first time Ponca got a sizable advantage — a 19-11 lead after a Gage McGill layup off an inbounds play with 5:54 left in the first half — LCC didn't go down.
Schutte got a 3-point play to cut the gap to 22-18, then Ty Erwin tallied consecutive assists, first to Cael Hartung down low, then found Izac Reifenrath for a tying 3. Kingsbury gave Ponca the lead with 40 seconds left just inside the arc, but Schutte found Erwin for a 3-pointer in front of the Indians' band with 20 seconds remaining for a 26-25 halftime lead.
LAUREL-CONCORD-COLERIDGE (5-1): Cael Hartung 2-3 0-2 4; Izac Reifenrath 2-12 0-0 5; Noah Schutte 12-17 5-6 30; Evan Haisch 2-6 0-0 5; Ty Erwin 2-9 5-5 10; Deagan Puppe 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 21-48 10-13 56.
PONCA (3-0): Gage McGill 6-10 1-3 13; Brandon Kneifl 8-11 3-4 23; Paul Masin 1-1 0-0 3; Carter Kingsbury 2-10 6-6 10; Jayde Reid 2-6 0-0 4; Evan Anderson 6-9 0-0 15; Cole Richards 1-2 0-1 2. Totals: 26-49 10-14 70.
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Front row, from left: Whitney Brown, Grand Island Northwest; Lauren West, Millard North; Jayme Horan, Millard South; McKenna Sims, South Sioux City; Morgan Maly, Crete. Back row, from left: Chucky Hepburn, Bellevue West; Charlie Easley, Lincoln Pius X; Akol Arop, Omaha Creighton Prep; Baylor Scheierman, Aurora; John Tonje, Omaha Central.
From left: Shereef Mitchell, Omaha Burke; Payton Brotzki, Platteview; Kanon Koster, Kearney; McKenna Sims, South Sioux City; Brady Heiman, Platteview; Dariauna Lewis, Omaha North; Akol Arop, Omaha Creighton Prep; Brooke Carlson, Elkhorn; Sam Griesel, Lincoln East; and Quinn Weidemann, Omaha Westside.
Sitting, from left: Jaden Wrightsell, Omaha Northwest; McKenna Minter, Lincoln Northeast; Teddy Allen, Boys Town. Standing, from left: Chloe Dworak, Lincoln Christian; Quinn Weidemann, Omaha Westside; McKenna Simms, South Sioux City; Aguek Arop, Omaha South; Ed Chang, Papillion-La Vista; Kanon Koster, Kearney; Ayo Akinwole, Papillion-La Vista.
Front from left: Quinn Weidemann, Omaha Westide; Aguek Arop, Omaha South; Grace Berry, Lincoln East; Caleal Walker, Omaha South; and Skyler Snider, Kearney. Back from left: Ed Chang, Papillion-La Vista; Rylie Cascio Jensen, Fremont; Nate Schimonitz, Omaha Creighton Prep; Ryan Williams, Fremont; and Chloe Akin-Otiko, Bellevue West.
Front from left: Jay Bridgeman, Omaha Westside; Kianna Ibis, Omaha Benson; Jessica Shepard, Fremont; Maddie Simon, Lincoln Pius X; Jaycee Bradley, Norfolk. Back from left: Tyler Hagedorn, Norfolk; Adam Dykman, Fremont Bergan; Justin Patton, Omaha North; Drew Homa, Omaha Creighton Prep; Malik Hluchoweckyj, Bellevue West.
Top from left: Chatrice White, Shelby-Rising City; Khyri Thomas, Omaha Benson; Jessica Shepard, Fremont. Front from left: Mitchell Hahn, Fremont; Malik Hluchoweckyj, Bellevue West; McKenzie Brown, Grand Island Northwest; Tre'Shawn Thurman, Omaha Central; Maddie Simon, Lincoln Pius X; Kevin Metoyer, Omaha Westside; Kianna Ibis, Omaha Benson.
Front from left: Alexa Kastanek, Lincoln Southeast (wearing rainbow hat); Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha Central (holding book); Lauren Works, Lincoln Southwest (wearing fedora); McKenzie Brown, Grand Island Northwest (holding basketball and balloon). Middle from left: Brett Dougherty, Papillion-La Vista (wearing marching band hat); Jessica Shepard, Lincoln Southeast (holding bear); Akoy Agau, Omaha Central (holding trophy); Kianna Ibis, Omaha Benson (waving towel). Back from left: Cam Williams, Omaha South (holding pom poms); Connor Lusso, Millard West (wearing birthday cake hat).
Front from left: Akoy Agau, Omaha Central; Jessica Shepard, Lincoln Southeast; Josiah Gustafson, Millard North; Brianna Rollerson, Omaha Central; Beth Bohuslavsky, Seward; Mike Gesell, South Sioux City. Back from left: Chelsea Mason, Bellevue West; Dylan Travis, Omaha Gross; Jalen Bradley, Norfolk; Brianna Craig, Lincoln Northeast.
Front from left: Hailey Mandelko, Lexington; Galen Gullie, Omaha Bryan; Emily Cady, Seward; Mike Gesell, South Sioux City. Middle from left: Akoy Agau, Omaha Central; Chelsea Mason, Bellevue West; Jalen Bradley, Norfolk; Alexis Akin-Otiko, Bellevue West. Back from left: Jayla Hobza, Bellevue East; CJ Carter, Omaha Benson.
Clockwise from top left: Alexis Akin-Otiko, Bellevue West; Jordan Hooper, Alliance; Deverell Biggs, Omaha Central; Dwight Smith, Ralston; Elliott Eliason, Chadron; Austin Kaczor, Ewing; Mike Gesell, South Sioux City; Nicole Arp; Kearney; Sarah Nelson, Omaha Westside; Emily Cady, Seward.
Bottom from left: Austin Kaczor, Ewing; Isiah Gandy, Boys Town; Elliott Eliason, Chadron; Jarrell Crayton, Bellevue East; Greg Smith, Ralston. Top from left of page: Marissa Kastanek, Lincoln Southeast; Emily Hauder, Bellevue West; Jordan Hooper, Alliance; KK Houser, Lincoln Southeast; Sarah Nelson, Omaha Westside.
From left: Antoine Young, Bellevue West; Jordan Hooper, Alliance; Josh Jones, Omaha Central; Marissa Kastanek, Lincoln Southeast; Wes Eikmeier, Fremont Bergan; KK Houser, Lincoln Southeast; Jarell Crayton, Bellevue East; McKayla Knudson, South Sioux City; Jesse Carr, Ainsworth; Nicole Brungardt, Norfolk Catholic.
Clockwise from top left: Kellie Nelson, Omaha Westside; Dominique Kelley, Lincoln Northeast; Kelsey Woodard, Bellevue West; Amber Hegge, Crofton; Jesse Carr, Ainsworth; Josh Jones, Omaha Central; Wes Eikmeier, Fremont Bergan; Antoine Young, Bellevue West; Mitch Albers, Papillion-La Vista; Jasmine Johnson, Omaha Central.
From left: Antoine Young, Bellevue West; Brooke Delano, Bellevue West; Matt Hill, Lincoln Southeast; Dominique Kelly, Lincoln Northeast; Yvonne Turner, Bellevue East; Andrew Bridger, Lincoln Northeast; Tyler Bullock, Lincoln North Star; Katie Frank, South Sioux City; Samantha Schuett, Millard West; Avery Tyler, Omaha Bryan.
From left: Samantha Schuett, Millard West; Katie Frank, South Sioux City; Matt Culliver, Omaha Bryan; Andrew Bridger, Lincoln Northeast; Matt Hill, Lincoln Southeast; Katie Smith, Omaha Skutt; Zach Potter, Omaha Creighton Prep; Yvonne Turner, Bellevue East; Megan Neuvirth, West Point GACC, Josh Dotzler, Bellevue West.