After Omaha Burke caught everyone’s attention Monday with an impressive start, Omaha South made jaws drop with a remarkable third quarter in the District A-1 boys championship game.
The top-ranked Packers outscored Burke 37-11 in the third quarter to turn a five-point halftime lead into a 31-point advantage and went on to finish an 83-50 rout of the Bulldogs.
Nebraska recruit Aguek Arop led five Packers in double figures with 17 points as South (25-1) won its sixth consecutive district championship and the accompanying berth in the state tournament, which begins March 10 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
“If you would have told me nine years ago that we would win six in a row, I would have had a hard time believing you,” Omaha South coach Bruce Chubick said. “These kids have put in a lot of work to get to this point.”
There are still three Class A district finals to be played Tuesday, but the Packers already have unofficially secured the No. 1 seed for the state tournament. After losing to Omaha Creighton Prep in the 2015 state title game, Arop said he and his teammates can now focus on what has been their season-long mission.
“It’s been the goal,” Arop said. “We want to get down to Lincoln, do our job and take care of business.”
For the first eight minutes Monday, the 12-12 Bulldogs didn’t make things easy on South.
Despite already having lost big twice this season to the Packers by scores of 78-39 and 77-45, Burke ended the first eight minutes with a 15-12 lead.
Burke jumped to a 7-0 lead in the first 2:30 while the Packers missed their first six shots. South’s first field goal didn’t fall until there was 3:26 remaining in the first quarter.
That was a layup by Makoor Arop, and he also made the free throw he was awarded for being fouled on the shot to bring the Packers within 9-5.
South briefly went ahead 12-11 before baskets by Wanjang Tut and Darrnell Mitchell in the final minute put Burke ahead 15-12 heading into the second quarter.
“We wanted to be pretty loose,” Burke coach Kevin Kobs said. “We didn’t have anything to lose. I told the guys Sunday that we’re going to get a lot of shots, let’s take them. We got some pretty good looks the first half.”
A layup by Karlon McSpadden 55 seconds into the second period put South ahead for good. Burke got within one before the Packers ended the half with a 6-2 run for a 30-25 halftime lead.
Then came that astonishing third quarter.
Less than two minutes into quarter, South got its lead to double digits. That advantage kept growing until it was time for the fourth quarter and the Packers had a 67-36 lead.
“We just needed to get in sync,” Arop said. “We were adjusting to how the game was played and in the second half we came out ready to go.”
South only had two three-point baskets in the third and the only other shot from outside the paint was a jumper from the right key by Caleal Walker. The other points came on a baby hook from the left baseline by Aguek Arop, two slam dunks, six layups and 11 free throws.
Chubick said it looked like Burke ran out of steam, a conclusion that Kobs agreed with.
“In that third quarter I think they hit the wall,” Chubick said. “Believe me I’ve been there. In that state championship game last year, the same thing happened to us in the middle of the third quarter.
“We’ve got to give Burke a credit. They didn’t have anything to lose, they just laid their ears back and gave us their best shot.”
Along with Aguek Arop’s 17 points, McSpadden (15), Noah Fant (14), Makoor Arop (13) and Walker (11) finished in double figures. Shereef Mitchell led Burke with 22 points, including seven in the first quarter.
Chubick showed no signs of slowing down throughout the game after he suffered a heart attack during a recent game at Lincoln Southeast. He was as animated as ever throughout the game, even jumping up and down a few times.
“When the adrenaline gets going, you don’t worry about all of that stuff,” Chubick said. “That just overrides the pain. It’s a competitive thing.”
Omaha Burke (12-12)..........15 10 11 14—50
At Omaha South (25-1)........12 18 37 16—83
OB: Darnell Mitchell 2-6 1-2 5, Ricky McCants 1-4 0-0 3, Jackson Abramo 2-2 0-0 6, Shareef Mitchell 7-12 6-8 22, Jared Rasmussen 0-1 0-0 0, Jack Livingston 0-1 1-2 1, Tyson Gunter 0-0 0-0 0, Wanjang Tut 5-14 2-2 12, Sean Haith 0-1 0-0 0 Ryan Parker 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Henrich 0-2 0-0 0, Mason Jung 0-0 1-2 1, Christopher Hickman 0-4 0-0 0, Chris Honz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals-17-48 11-16 50.
OS: Kevin Lee 1-1 0-0 2, Karlon McSpadden 6-9 1-2 15, Monte McGary 1-2 2-2 4, Jordan DeLeon 1-1 1-2 3, Jalen Tate 1-2 0-0 2, Makoor Arop 3-7 5-5 13, Ta’Vion Anderson 1-4 0-0 2, Caleal Walker 4-10 3-4 11, Noah Fant 5-10 4-4 14, De’Shon Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Aguek Arop 6-11 5-6 17. Totals-29-58 21-25 83.
3-point shots: OB 5-13 (D. Mitchell 0-2, McCants 1-3, Abramo 2-2, S. Mitchell 2-4, Rasmussen 0-1, Parker 0-1), OS 4-13 (McSpadden 2-4, Tate 0-1, M. Arop 2-5, Walker 0-3). Total fouls: OB 19, OS 16. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None. Turnovers: OB 25, OS 18. Rebounds: OB 27 (Tut 9), OS 38 (A. Arop 11). Field goal percentage: OB .354, OS .500. Free throw percentage: OB .688, OS .840. A-1,100 (est.).
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