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Eagles stand tall once again

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Eagles stand tall once again
Eagles stand tall once again

Omaha Central’s Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler, left, defends Lincoln Southeast’s Sam Morris during Saturday’s game. Poor Bear-Chandler was a force inside for Central, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.

It wasn’t exactly perfect, but the way Omaha Central wrapped up its toughest stretch of the season Saturday night had coach Ben Holling smiling.

“Very, very happy,” Holling said after his Class A No. 7 Eagles beat eighth-ranked Lincoln Southeast 67-45. “We had our dead man’s walk and came out of it playing pretty well.”

It was the fourth straight game for Central against a ranked foe — and third win in that stretch.

The Eagles halted Southeast’s five-game winning streak in large part because of a parade of free throws. Central had 20 attempts from the line in the fourth quarter alone, part of a 23-of-32 night at the stripe.

“We kind of felt handcuffed in the first half,” said Southeast coach Jeff Smith, whose team was whistled for 28 personal fouls and two technical fouls. “In our conference, they’re not calling handchecks quite like that. We just didn’t adjust fast enough, and it probably got into our heads too much.”

After a back-and-forth first half, Central scored seven of the last nine points of the second quarter to take a 30-21 lead to the break.

Southeast got the deficit to six with three minutes left in the third quarter but saw another finishing kick by Central — this one an 11-3 run — open some breathing room.

The Eagles put things away at the foul line in the fourth quarter, knocking down 15 of 20 attempts.

“If you watched this game, you might not realize how good Southeast really is,” Holling said. “They’re good. Our kids were prepared for them. They might not have looked so good, but it was because our kids were locked in.”

Junior center Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler led the way for the Eagles with 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

“He’s a tough matchup for us,” Smith said of the 6-foot-9 Central big man. “We go 6-foot-4 (on the inside).”

Guard Roman Behrens scored 15 of his 18 points from the foul line and added nine assists for Holling’s bunch. Southeast got a team-high 17 points from guard Trevor Dockum.

Central has won four of its last five games, with its only setback a loss at No. 2 Omaha Creighton Prep last weekend.

Holling said he was impressed with the way his team came back from the Prep loss this week at practice.

“They responded well,” Holling said. “We had a full week of practice. We were here on a snow day, and they were here, ready to go, smiling and saying ‘Let’s get to work.’”

A winnable stretch ahead gives the Eagles a chance to finish the regular season with a flurry. Their next three games are against teams a combined 9-42 before Saturday.

“Things might lighten up a little bit. It’s a stretch of winnable games, but you have to fight for everything you get in the Metro,” Holling said. “You want to be playing well, you want to get a winning streak going toward the end of the year. This is a great time to do that.”

Lincoln Southeast (10-9) ........................ 10 11 9 15—45

At Omaha Central (12-6) ......................... 9 21 14 23—67

LSE: Trevor Dockum 6-13 4-6 17, Sam Morris 3-6 2-4 10, Brayden Day 3-11 0-0 6, Noah Kulhanek 1-3 1-2 3, Isaiah Laughlin 0-0 2-2 2, Chase Dederman 1-1 0-0 2, Jack Strong 1-4 0-0 2, Alex Euse 1-2 0-0 2, Brady McDonald 0-2 1-2 1, Curtis Westbrooks 0-1 0-0 0, Tmar Byron 0-0 0-2 0 Totals 16-43 10-18 45.

OC: Isaiah Poor Bear-Chandler 9-12 1-1 18, Roman Behrens 1-6 15-18 18, Brandon Reed 4-9 0-1 11, Jordan Flowers 2-3 3-6 7, Keondre Spivey 2-4 0-0 6, Cedrick Grant 0-1 2-2 2, Chance Hall 0-1 2-4 2, Nicholas Russell 1-1 0-0 2 Totals 19-37 23-32 67.

3-point goals: LSE 3-12 (Morris 2-2, Dockum 1-4, Day 0-1, Kulhanek 0-1, Euse 0-1, McDonald 0-2, Westbrooks 0-1); OC 6-13 (Reed 3-7, Spivey 2-4, Behrens 1-2). Rebounds: LSE 20 (Morris 3); OC 31 (Poor Bear-Chandler 11). Turnovers: LSE 13, OC 17. Field goal percentage: LSE .372, OC .514. Total fouls: LSE 28, OC 18. Fouled out: Day. Technical fouls: Dockum, Day.

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