LINCOLN — One of the stranger endings to a game happened in the first Class C-2 quarterfinal of the day at Lincoln North Star.
With top-ranked Crofton blowing out Ponca, the second half turned to a running clock and provided a finish that is rarely seen.
In the game’s closing minutes, Ponca senior Kianna Kramper was fouled and headed to the line. But as she stepped up to take her foul shots, the running clock expired and horn sounded.
Kramper, with cotton stuck up one of her nostrils to stop some bleeding, knocked down both free throws with no one standing around the lane. After each free throw, her teammates — standing near the scorer’s table getting ready to slap hands with Crofton team members — ran up and congratulated her.
Kramper scored a team-high 12 points in a 58-27 loss.
Trip to state and hospital
Talk about your all-time detours.
On its way to Lincoln for the state tournament Thursday morning, the Yutan team bus had to make a stop at the hospital.
Coach Rod Henkel came down with some sort of stomach issue overnight and was unable to accompany his team, making its first trip to state since 1997.
But Henkel also had quite a few things — bags, books, etc. — that the team needed. So assistant coach Trent Jacobs and the Chieftains’ bus swung by to pick them up.
“Kind of a weird way to start your state destination,” Jacobs said.
Yutan fell 78-46 to West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic.
Giving Gilson lip service
The Omaha Gross student section had some fun with a certain physical feature sported by head coach Marty Gilson.
The students wore white T-shirts that said “Fear the Mustache.” Some even sported fake mustaches.
“It was great,” Gilson said. “The kids have bought into it, and it’s pretty fun.”
Several students also wore suspenders, another Gilson trademark.
Early start OK with Cougars
Gross had no problem with the 9 a.m. start to Thursday’s state tournament.
The Cougars avenged a district final loss against Elkhorn South, defeating the Storm 44-41.
“It wasn’t tough for us because we’ve held 20-25 practices this season at 5:45 a.m.,” Gilson said. “It was normal for us, and that made it easier to prepare.”
Strength in numbers
It was no contest as far as student numbers in the Class B game between Lincoln Pius X and Scottsbluff.
The hometown Thunderbolts looked as though they had most of the school cheering for them. Scottsbluff had about 30 students who made the six-hour trek.
The game wasn’t close, either, as top-ranked Pius rolled to victory.
One good turn
Bellevue West coach Rick Mintken and Norfolk coach Jared Oswald shared some tourney information prior to their schools’ first-round games Thursday.
Mintken needed to know about opening foe South Sioux City while Oswald wanted information on Omaha Benson. Bellevue West played the Bunnies once this season while the Panthers played South Sioux once.
As it turned out, the info must have been pretty good. Both Norfolk and Bellevue West came through with wins. They face each other in Friday’s semifinals.
With a starting lineup that includes three freshmen and two sophomores, Lincoln Christian coach Nick Orduna admitted he was interested to see how his squad would respond to playing in the state tournament.
No worries. The No. 2 Crusaders opened the game with a 16-2 run and built a 65-29 lead early in the fourth quarter before settling for a 67-47 victory against Omaha Concordia in Class C-1 at the Devaney Center.
“It’s a big struggle for people when they come here, but our girls have been fearless all year,” Orduna said. “They have taken on some really good teams and even from the first game until now, today’s game is an example of their fearlessness.”
Freshman Chloe Dworak led Lincoln Christian with 15 points, while fellow freshman Taytem Coleman added 14 points and nine rebounds and sophomore Mollie Shepard finished with 11 points for the Crusaders (23-4). Lincoln Christian also got nine points off the bench from sophomore Elizabeth Nunnally as it advanced to Friday’s 9 a.m. semifinal at Pinnacle Bank Arena against two-time defending champion and No. 3 Pierce (20-6).
“They have played a lot of basketball, so they feel very comfortable out there — even with the (bright) lights and all the other hype that’s around here,” Orduna said. “It was fun to watch them compete.”
Attendance for the first day of the tournament was 27,017. The breakdown: Devaney Center: 8,603; Pinnacle Bank Arena: 8,414; Lincoln North Star 5,187; Lincoln Southwest 4,813.
Bits and pieces
The Class D-1 first-round game between O’Neill St. Mary’s and Friend, won by the Cardinals 75-73, set two tourney records. The teams’ combined total of 148 points is a new D-1 mark, as is Friend’s losing point total of 73. The previous marks were 136 for combined points and 66 as most points by a losing squad. ... York coach Matt Kern recorded his 100th career coaching victory as the Dukes beat Elkhorn 47-37 in a Class B first-round matchup. “I try not to make too big of a deal about that, but a lot of people have,” said Kern, who is in his ninth season as York’s head coach. “The girls talked about it and it’s fun. I’m blessed to be able to coach such great kids in a great community, and there are so many people who support the program who have made the wins I have as a head coach happen. It’s not about me.”