Omaha Skutt got its spot in Saturday’s River Cities Conference final.

Elkhorn Mount Michael made the SkyHawks work for it. And with four freshmen in their top eight, the Knights should be conference contenders — if not higher — in the next few years.

Skutt was a little older, a little wiser and a little more athletic when it mattered in Thursday’s 59-46 semifinal win at home. Class B’s No. 7 team advanced to Saturday’s 3 p.m. RCC final at No. 8 Omaha Roncalli.

Mount Michael (10-4) led 18-14 after one quarter, 28-26 at the half and trailed 38-36 after senior John Hudson’s 3 with two minutes left in the third.

But Skutt (11-2), which was forcing turnovers with its press, got separation with seven points in the first minute of the final quarter for a 47-36 lead. The Knights never again got closer than nine.

“They’re young, but they’re talented and they play with a lot of poise,” Skutt coach Kyle Jurgens said. “We got them a little out of sync the second half, I thought, but they played with more composure the first half than we did. So that was an emphasis at halftime.”

TJ Skradski, the tallest player in the game at 6-foot-6, picked up two early fouls, but the junior led the SkyHawks with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Tyson Gordon had 13 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, when the 6-3 sophomore guard also had two steals, a block of a 3-pointer and an assist.

Jurgens said Gordon thrives in a full-court game.

“He’s a special player as it is, but he becomes really tough to contain in that much space,” the coach said.

Mount Michael is starting Brad Bennett, who led the team Thursday with 16 points, Kaleb Brink (8 points, 11 rebounds) and Parker Hottovy (0 for 1) and brings Joseph Chouinard (2 points) off the bench.

“We needed to get into a half-court game,” Knights coach Derrik Spooner said. “They do such a good job of making you play fast, the decision-making, and they wear you down.

“We got timid.”

Spooner isn’t coaching only for the future. Without the buy-in of older players, he said this might not be working out for his team.

“We can play younger guys because our older guys are who they are,” he said. “They’re such high character kids. It’s just fun to coach everybody.”

Mount Michael was late getting to the gym. Its bus broke down near 204th Street and West Center Road. Tipoff was delayed 15 minutes as a result.

Skutt’s girls were in worse straits after a bus breakdown of their own. Taking them to South Sioux City for an RCC semifinal, the bus got as far as the Honey Creek exit on Interstate 29. Skutt Assistant Athletic Director Renee Saunders said parents picked up the stranded players and continued on.

Besides making it to the RCC finals, it’s been a memorable week for Jurgens. His wife gave birth Wednesday to the couple’s second child.

“It’s been a heck of a 48 hours,” he said. “I had to rely on my assistant. Yesterday was the first practice here I’ve haven’t been at.”

Elkhorn Mount Michael (10-4) 18 10 8 10—46

At Omaha Skutt (11-2) 14 12 14 19—59

EMM: Lorcan Jamal 3-4 3-4 10, John Hudson 2-6 0-0 6, Brad Bennett 4-11 5-7 16, Kaleb Brink 4-6 0-0 8, Parker Hottovy 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Idra 0-3 4-4 4, Joseph Chouinard 1-6 0-0 2, Drew Thornton 0-0 0-0 0, Quinton Mohr 0-0 0-0 0, Joe Hitzemann 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-38 12-15 46.

OS: Jackson Gordon 3-5 1-2 9, Tyson Gordon 4-10 5-6 13, Jake Kudron 2-2 0-0 5, Austin Ash 4-7 0-0 10, TJ Skradski 7-9 2-3 16, Grant Bertucci 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Merfeld 3-4 0-0 6, Ryan McCormick 0-1 0-0 0, Grant Healy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-38 8-11 59.

3-point goals: EMM 6-14 (Bennett 3-6, Hudson 2-4, Jamal 1-1, Brink 0-1, Chouinard 0-1, Hitzemann 0-1), OS 5-10 (J. Gordon 2-3, Ash 2-4, Kudron 1-1, T. Gordon 0-2). Total fouls: EMM 13, OS 19. Fouled out: Merfeld. Technicals: none. Turnovers: EMM 17, OS 12. Rebounds: EMM 25 (Brink 11), OS 18 (Skradski 9). Field-goal percentage: EMM .368, OS .605. Free-throw percentage: EMM .800, OS .500. A: 600 (est.)

Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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