Papio dropped their semifinal match up in the Metro Conference Holiday Tournament to Creighton Prep, 61-55.
Papio struggled out of the gate to get going, as Prep went up 13-7 to open the game. After a timeout, the Monarchs settled down and went on a 6-0 run to quickly tie up the game.
Both offenses went stagnant to end the quarter and the score stayed tied at 13-13.
Both defenses kept up the great work in the second quarter, making the offenses uncomfortable and not letting them get into their sets. The score was 27-26 with the Monarchs leading heading into halftime.
“The first half I liked our defense," Papio head coach Dan Moore said. "We tried to take (Spencer) Schomers away and not let the guards get in the paint because if you help too much they can kick it out to shooters. We still struggle with (AJ) Rollins; he is big and athletic and quick, a little bit quicker than our guys."
Kyle Ingwerson and Papio came out the aggressors in the second half, but Prep was able to keep the Monarchs at bay and take a 47-43 lead into the fourth quarter.
Prep scored 21 points in the third quarter after only scoring 26 in the first half.
"Third quarter hurt us," coach Moore said. "We needed to rebound better than we did. I felt our defense was still decent but we helped up on the guard and they dropped off to Rollins and he got some easy's.
"They made some shots too. In a game like this that was pretty close they caught a little separation, they got six or eight points, now we have to scrap and become more aggressive and try to trap and attack and they made some free throws.
"I don’t think we played our best but they are a good team, they are a good offensive team. I think we scrapped and played pretty good defense but for us to beat a team like them or some of the other teams that are in the upper echelon, we have to put all parts together. We have to guard them, rebound, share the ball and put the ball in the hole," coach Moore added.
Papio kept trying to cut into the lead, but could never quite get it close enough.
Creighton Prep started the fourth quarter on a 7-2 run and used the clock very well to make it hard on the Monarchs to get any closer.
Papio attempted to make a run late and pulled to within four points, but Prep closed it out at the free throw line and went home with a 61-55 victory.
A big reason for the Monarchs success thus far this season has been the play of guards Owen McLaughlin and Joey Hylok.
"They have played great," coach Moore said. "They are our two best defenders too so it seems like a lot of the teams that we play, they got two really good guys and those two are the guys that guard those guys. That has been part of our success. When we get stops they are both fast so they can push the ball and run."
The Monarchs were led by Kyle Ingwerson, who finished with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Luke Lindenmeyer added 10 points and seven rebounds and Preston Kellogg finished with seven points and six rebounds.
Papio was able to knock off the No. 1 seed in the tournament Omaha Central and compete well against Creighton Prep. When asked if Papio can play with the top teams in the state, coach Moore seemed certain.
"For sure and we believed it before the season but we knew we would have to prove it. We did not have much success last year but we worked really hard in the summer, spring and fall and felt like we were going to be solid."
Coach Moore also pointed to the teams bond as a huge reason for their success.
"Biggest thing is our chemistry is awesome," coach Moore said. "They all get along, all of them practice hard, and all of them try to have fun. We have done stuff, community activities, we’ve gone to a Creighton (basketball) game together. The group is a fun bunch to coach.
"Winning is a part of that too but if you’ve got a good group and their chemistry is good when you have a struggle like this loss, we aren’t going to hang our heads and pout. We are just going to come back more determined and ready to be better."