Papillion-La Vista cut off Omaha Central's escape route — and its long winning streak against Nebraska opponents.
In their 67-59 homecourt win Saturday night over the state's top-ranked boys basketball team, the No. 3 Monarchs saw a 16-point lead midway through the final quarter dwindle to 61-57 in the next 3:20.
Central had one possession to pull closer, but KJ Scott missed a 3-pointer with 1:07 left.
Papillion-La Vista's 7-1 run to end the game brought its toga-clad student body running onto the court to celebrate with the team.
“When they made their run, we could have said, 'Oh, they're supposed to win,' and we didn't,” Monarchs coach Jason Ryan said. “We answered when we needed to.”
The Eagles (16-3), whose two previous losses were in the City of Palms Classic in December to end their Class A record-tying 41-game winning streak against all opponents, lost to a Nebraska opponent for the first time in 51 games. Central's instate winning streak started after a 54-49 loss to Millard South on Feb. 18, 2011.
“There was no question who the hungrier team was and whom the game meant more to, and it showed,” Central coach Eric Behrens said. “You dig yourself a hole like that because they came fired up. They treated it like a big game and we didn't.”
Nate Maloley scored 24 points — all in the final three quarters — to lead Papillion-La Vista (15-3). Brett Dougherty, the Monarchs' 6-foot-6 forward, had 19 points.
Scott played through illness to score 21 points for Central. The senior put in the Eagles' first nine points of the final quarter.
The Eagles never led in the game, which tested the capacity of Papillion-La Vista's 2,140-seat gym. The score was tied only at 4-4.
“From the opening tip, we thought we could do it,” Dougherty said. “We knew we could beat them if we played our game.”
The Monarchs gained control in the second quarter, when they outscored Central 18-8 for a 37-23 halftime lead. They scored nine straight points over a three-minute span as Central came up empty on six straight possessions.
After a hook shot by Dougherty, Maloley scored the first basket of his big night. Dougherty made two free throws and Maloley hit the first of his two 3s in the game. He also scored the last four points of the half.
“We really rebounded well defensively the second quarter,” Ryan said. “Central had two offensive rebounds at halftime. That's one of their strengths, with their athleticism, the ability to go get second shots, and we did a nice job on the glass.
Tyler Dougherty, Brett's 6-5 sophomore brother, had five rebounds in the quarter and a game-high nine.
Central's Tre'Shawn Thurman and Nick Billingsley scored in the first minute of the second half to cut the Monarchs' lead to 37-27, but Papillion scored 12 of the next 17 points for its largest lead, 49-32. Maloley had six of the points, including two free throws for a technical on Behrens.
Brett Dougherty's basket with 4:46 left in the game was the last time the Monarchs led by 16. Central then scored seven points in 70 seconds — two free throws by Scott, a 3-point play by Thurman and a Thurman basket off a Deandre Hollins-Johnson steal in the backcourt.
Brett Dougherty, who was 7 of 8 at the line in one of his best free-throw nights of the season, hit two free throws and Bryce Sheard added one to provide a momentary break in the frantic Eagle comeback.
They scored eight points in 60 seconds to get to 61-57. Baskets by Scott, Hollins-Johnson and Scott again, the last two fueled by Papio turnovers, led to Akoy Agau getting a rare offensive rebound and making two free throws after getting fouled with 1:26 left.
Maloley missed a one-and-one, but Scott misfired on a 3 that Papio's Keenan Neelon rebounded. Maloley subsequently made two free throws for a six-point lead to take into the final minute.
“At halftime we said they're going to make some runs. They're one of the best teams in the country for a reason,” Ryan said. “They're going to come after you. They cut it to four there, but we didn't panic.”
Papillion-La Vista went 2-1 during the week, losing 57-55 at No. 2 Omaha South and beating Fremont 69-45.
“We didn't talk about Central until today (for a game plan),” Ryan said. “Our mindset offensively was 'attack,' our mindset defensively was 'attack' and we wrote on the board before the game, 'Have fun tonight.'”
“This is what high school basketball is all about. What an awesome environment. This is why you coach. This is why you compete. We'd like to play in these kind of environments every week if we could.”
Behrens said the loss could turn useful for his team. The Eagles have been playing without starter Tra-Deon Hollins, who has a high ankle sprain.
“I told them I thought we've just been complacent lately,” he said. “They always feel like they are going to find a way (to win), and I didn't think we had been really focused. I think it's a good wakeup call for us.
“I think we needed it. You don't want to lose, but sometimes you learn more in a loss.”
Omaha Central (16-3)..................................15 8 12 23—58
At Papillion-La Vista (15-3)..........................19 18 12 18—67
OC: Akoy Agau 4-10 6-8 14, KJ Scott 8-16 4-6 21, Deandre Hollins-Johnson 3-9 0-2 7, Nick Billingsley 3-7 3-7 9, Tre'Shawn Thurman 3-7 1-1 7, Austin McGaugh 0-2 0-0 0, LaTrell Jameson 0-0 0-0 0, Christian Harmon 0-0 0-0 0, Malik Harris 0-1 0-0 0, John Carter 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-52 14-24 58.
PLV: JaPree Murry 4-6 0-0 8, Spencer Lewis 1-4 2-6 4, Nate Maloley 7-13 8-10 24, Tyler Dougherty 1-5 1-2 3, Brett Dougherty 6-10 7-8 19, Bryce Sheard 0-1 1-2 1, Keenan Neelon 3-5 2-2 8, Matt Safranek 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-44 21-30 67.
3-point goals: OC 2-12 (Agau 0-2, Scott 1-4, Hollins-Johnson 1-2, Billingsley 0-1, Thurman 0-3, McGaugh 0-1), PLV 2-5 (Maloley 2-4, Lewis 0-1). Total fouls: OC 22, PLV 18. Fouled out: Sheard. Technicals: Central coach Behrens (coaching box violation). Turnovers: OC 10, PLV 17. Rebounds: PC 26 (Agou 8), PLV 38 (T. Dougherty 9). Field-goal percentage: OC .404, PLV .500. Free-throw percentage: OC .583, PLV .700. A: 2,200 (cap.)
Contact the writer: