The fireworks hit and hit early in the second semifinal in the boy's Metro Conference Holiday Tournament on Thursday night. No. 11 seeded Papio South's Cinderella run came to end against No. 2 seed Millard North, as the Mustangs took down the Titans 77-66.
The score was tied 23-23 after the first quarter and suffice to say, it was a fun first eight minutes. Papio South was 7-for-10 from three and Millard North was 5-for-9 from three. Jared Mattley had nine points and was 3-for-3 from deep for Papio South.
In the second quarter, the Titans went somewhat cold and let the Mustangs take a 41-32 lead into the half. The Titans scored just nine points in that second quarter.
“We can shoot it and I think fatigue is probably what got to us in the second quarter," Papio South head coach Joel Hueser said. "Fatigue factored in and they shot it better than they have probably shot it all year. You have to pick your poison with this team and we tried to take away the paint and give up contested threes.
"We definitely did not want to give them a lot of transition points and things in the paint and for the most part we stuck to that game plan and they just kept making some shots."
In the third quarter, the Titans caught fire again. They were able to cut the Millard North lead down to two with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
A big possession came to end the third quarter, when Millard North knocked down a wide open three at the buzzer. That made it a five point game and the Mustangs scored to open the fourth, pushing the lead to seven.
The Mustangs scored 19 in the fourth quarter and the Titans could not quite close the gap to make it a game in the fourth.
Millard North star Hunter Sallis finished with 25 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals.
"Hunter is talented as well as the other five or six guys they have in their rotation," coach Hueser said about Sallis and Millard North. "We wanted to minimize their transition points, keep them off the offensive boards and force them into long twos or contested threes and that is what I thought we did for the most part. They just knocked down a handful more threes than what we are used too."
Jared Mattley was the star for the Titans, recording 21 points and nine assists. Coach Hueser had high praise for his senior guard.
"Another game of eight or nine assists and 21 points," Hueser said. "He is kind of under the radar with some people but he is just a highly, highly efficient point guard and in my opinion, one of the best in the metro."
Danair Dempsey also had a great game, recording 12 points and seven rebounds against a tall Millard North team that can overwhelm you with their length.
"There’s no doubt Danair is an up and coming player," coach Hueser said. "Anytime we are able to get him to where he can drive in some space and get some post looks and touches and put him in position to be an effective player. We want to establish the paint and go inside and out and he had a nice game."
Graham Cassoutt was huge for the Titans, finishing with 21 points and shooting an impressive 5-for-6 from deep.
The Titans may not have won the tournament, but they gained some much needed confidence in who they can play with throughout the week.
Coach Hueser said they can play with anyone and the team knows this.
"Yeah that's what our discussion was right there," coach Hueser added. "I’ve alluded to this already not only did we competed well with them tonight but I thought we competed well against them on a night where they really shot it well.
"That is where we can continue to instill confidence in this team because they are right there with the best of the best."