Ogallala storms back against Alliance to remain unbeaten

Alliance’s Mason Hiemstra drives to the basket during Friday’s game at Ogallala. Hiemstra scored 18 points.

OGALLALA, Neb. — Omaha was shut down for hoops Friday night, but not Ogallala.

The hometown team stayed undefeated, although it didn’t look that way when the Indians trailed Alliance 26-12 in the second quarter.

“They’re going to be dangerous in C-1,’’ Alliance coach Michael Baker said, “and I think we can be dangerous in Class B, too.”

Ogallala was back in the game by halftime, trailing by five, then made four 3s in the third quarter. It never trailed in the final 12 minutes of a 67-64 win that drew a nearly packed house to Prairie View Gymnasium.

“We’ve taken a lot of pride this year in our first and third quarters,’’ new Ogallala coach Andy Gillen said. “Tonight, it wasn’t there the first quarter. I felt we followed through in the third quarter and were able to get out and get on a run and make things tougher.”

Both teams, each the highest ranked in its class west of Cozad, got the good game they desired. Ogallala was third in the Class C-1 ratings and is 14-0, Class B No. 7 Alliance fell to 12-3.

“We just haven’t been in this situation much,’’ Baker said. “We’ve had double-digit wins. That’s why we needed this, win or lose, now we know how that experience feels. Some of our guys were trying to make the big play. We’re going to profit from it and we’ll bounce back and be fine.”

Having seeing every team ranked ahead of them, my takeaway is both teams have talented players who need to tighten things up to make a deep postseason run. When there’s not quality competition every night out, things can get loose.

Gillen is a Cozad graduate who had been coaching girls, then boys, in Kansas with success. He cringed with the mention of the Indians’ seven turnovers in eight possessions after gaining a 58-49 lead by scoring five points in the first 45 seconds of the final quarter.

“Believe it or not, we’ve been averaging around nine turnovers a game so I’ve been really pleased with how we value the ball each possession,” Gillen said. “Tonight for some reason we just really came out of character in the fourth quarter. I thought maybe the excitement got to them a little bit and they got caught up in the moment instead of just understanding right now we don’t even need to score.”

Gillen’s son, Carter Brown, scored his game-high 19 points in the first three quarters. The coach’s nephew, Evan Allen-Mader, finished off an 11-point game by scoring the Indians’ final seven points in the last 57 seconds.

Alliance’s top scorer, senior Mason Hiemstra, ran out of steam after 16 points in the first three quarters. He missed five shots in a row before making an uncontested layup in the late going.

Ogallala’s Clayton Murphy went 3-of-4 on 3-pointers in the third quarter, which ended with the Indians leading 53-49. Murphy is a 6-foot-4 guard who is getting FCS recruiting attention as a passing quarterback.

“Carter had kept us in it a little bit offensively the first half so they paid a little more attention to him,’’ Gillen said. “Murph, he’s a special player. He’s long, he has a knack to get to the rim and if you give him space he’ll hit that 3. So he’s a tough matchup for teams because he is a 6-4 guard.

“For him to come out and when the defense took certain things away and they left him alone, it was huge for him to hit those shots.”

Alliance (12-3)...........22 13 14 15—64

At Ogallala (14-0).......12 18 23 14—67

A: Mason Hiemstra 18, Joel Baker 8, Corbin Stark 7, Reece Jensen 3, Bradyn Palmer 8, Trevor DuBray 5, Kaden Kindred 5.

O: Carter Brown 19, Evan Allen-Mader 13, Clayton Murphy 11, Cameron Raffaeli 8, Adam Kroeger 10, Jeron Tuttle 6

Big Saturday

Those teams involved in Saturday’s biggest games should be rested — none of the Nebraska teams played Friday after the ice storm.

There are so many choices and I’ll list them chronologically:

2:30 p.m.: No. 9 Omaha Central at No. 9 Omaha Creighton Prep — Prep won 64-40 in the Metro Conference’s holiday tournament.

3 p.m.: Class B No. 8 Elkhorn Mount Michael at No. 6 Omaha Roncalli — Roncalli won 63-59 at home last Saturday.

3 p.m.: Once-beaten Gretna vs. unbeaten Treynor, Iowa, in the Nebraska Prep Classic at Sokol Arena.

7:15 p.m.: No. 1 Bellevue West at No. 5 Omaha South.

7:30 p.m.: Class A No. 10 Omaha Westside vs. Kansas City Central, a Prep Classic game.

9 p.m.: Class A No. 9 Omaha Bryan vs. Denver East, the nightcap of the Prep Classic.

I’ll be back for Central-Prep and then on to Sokol.

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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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