In a 38-25 game, both coaches better be pleased with their defenses. And they were.
For winning coach Luke Olson, it showed his young Bennington team transferred three good practices to the court as the Badgers started a stretch of games in which only one opponent isn’t currently ranked or has a winning record.
For losing coach Mike Weiss, it’s the type of game that his Wahoo Neumann team can play in the Class C-1 postseason and frustrate opponents.
Only three players in Thursday’s game at Bennington scored more than four points, and two belonged to the Class B No. 10 Badgers (7-3). Sophomore guard Austin Holtz had 14 points, eight coming in the first quarter, and senior Grady Corrigan had eight. David Lilly led Class C-1 No. 4 Neumann (8-2) with nine.
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“We have a ways to go,’’ Olson said. “We kind of got after each other in practice, and they played tonight kind of like they practiced, which was good to see.”
Before the Eastern Midlands Conference tournament in late January, the Badgers have games coming against ratings contenders Platteview (at home Friday), Waverly and Norris, plus Class C-1 No. 6 Boys Town and Class A Columbus. After the EMC, the February slate includes No. 6 Omaha Roncalli and No. 4 Elkhorn Mount Michael plus Class A Elkhorn.
“We said that in January, we’ll find out a lot about ourselves,’’ Olson said. “We played some tweener teams in December, and it was hard to get a read because it felt like we didn’t have a game when the fourth quarter mattered until recently.”
Before Lilly scored Neumann’s first field goal of the game with 4½ minutes left in the first half, the Cavaliers’ only points were from three free throws. They got to the fourth quarter down eight, then went scoreless for nearly seven minutes as the Badgers clawed out seven more points.
“We got in the style of game we wanted,’’ Weiss said. “We can play defense as we showed. We did a lot of good things. We just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
Given that the two top teams in the C-1 ratings, Auburn and North Bend, played to 30-29 in last year’s state final, Neumann’s defense can fit right in.
Holtz, whose father, Chad, is the athletic director at Bellevue East, made two of his first three 3-point looks, and Corrigan made one as the first quarter ended 13-2.
“He’s a really smart kid and he’s been around the game,’’ Olson said. “He took three charges (there were 10 player-control fouls called) and hit some big shots. He’s always capable of playing well. It’s just as a sophomore, it just takes a while for the game to slow down.”
Wahoo Neumann (8-2).....2 11 10 2—25
At Bennington (7-3).......13 8 10 7—38
WN: David Lilly 9, Taylen Pospisil 4, Teagan Ahrens 4, Jarrett Kmiecik 4, Joe Fisher 2, Trey Miller 2.
B: Austin Holtz 14, Grady Corrigan 8, Nick Bohn 4, Lucas Brown 4, Cayden Bluhm 4, Jace Miller 2, Seth Wempen 2.
Playing into a uniform
Who was in No. 44 Tuesday night for Lincoln North Star? It wasn’t 6-foot-7 freshman Brennon Clemmons Jr. He’s still recovering from knee surgery.
It was Ken Piyotem, a 6-5 senior football player who played his way into uniform as a student manager.
“He practiced with us and he just earned it with how hard he practiced,’’ North Star coach Tony Quattrocchi said. “So we rewarded him and he hasn’t played a second until tonight. I told him yesterday, I told the whole team Ken’s going to play tomorrow, and they just erupted in excitement. They love that kid.”
Piyotem made two free throws late in the third quarter of the 74-60 win at Lincoln Southeast.
Pius X perfect times 2
Thanks to its historian, Jim Hansen, we know that Lincoln Pius X never before had its boys and girls teams both undefeated this late into the season. The Thunderbolts’ boys are 9-0 and No. 1 in the Top 10; their girls are 8-0 and No. 2.
Hansen said the Pius X boys were 10-0 to start the 2004-05 season and 23-0 to start the 1988-89 season. “And you know the rest,’’ he said, referring to the fabled double-overtime loss to Wahoo in the 1989 Class B final.
The Thunderbolt girls have started six seasons with 12 or more consecutive wins. Their 1991-92 team went all the way to 25-0 and a Class B title.
Meet the five boys and five girls selected to The World-Herald's 2019 All-Nebraska basketball teams
These players put their skills on display all high school season. Meet The World-Herald's 2019 All-Nebraska boys and girls basketball teams, captained by Omaha Central's John Tonje and South Sioux City's McKenna Sims.
Jay Saunders is Omaha South’s on-court coach. “In fact, he has to settle me down every once in a while,” Bruce Chubick Sr. said. Saunders lands a first-team spot on the 55th World-Herald All-Metro Conference team after taking the Packers to their second state championship in four years.
After one of her worst games, Millard North’s Lauren West capped her varsity career with perhaps her best. The 5-foot-11 senior is the honorary captain of the All-Metro Conference girls basketball team. West was a third-team selection last year but earned her first-team spot by helping Millard North finish 23-4.
Jack Dotzler turned a major break into a minor bump for Omaha Roncalli’s special season. The Crimson Pride didn’t know how long they would be without their junior point guard after he broke his left wrist during the Class B football playoffs.
Volleyball season didn’t end the way Wahoo Neumann’s Kelsie Cada hoped. But her perseverance paid off during basketball season, which ended with the Cavaliers cutting down the nets.
World-Herald prep recruiting specialist Mike Sautter and The World-Herald's Jake Anderson discussed the latest Nebraska high school sports news in the latest episode of the Nebraska Prep Zone Report.