LINCOLN – What a difference 24 hours make.
The Yutan Chieftain basketball team experienced the highest of the highs in their opening round state tournament game against Ponca and 24 hours later experienced the exact opposite in a gut-wrenching one-point triple overtime loss against top-seeded Grand Island Central Catholic.
After nearly 44 minutes of grind it out, possession-by -possession basketball, GICC sophomore Justin Herbek took an inbounds pass and raced the length of the floor elevated and was fouled by Yutan senior Trey Knudsen as the horn sounded on the third overtime period.
After a timeout, Herbek calmly stepped to the line and made the first free throw, giving GICC the 47-46 triple overtime win.
Early in the third quarter,
an overtime period, let alone three, seemed as unlikely as a store shelf stacked with Purell.
The Chieftains were in complete control throughout the first half operating with surgical precision on both ends of the floor.
Yutan led 15-7 after one quarter and 26-14 at the half. The Chieftains connected on five first half 3-pointers and shot 68 percent from the field in the opening half.
“We really stressed pace with this team, because we
wanted to get their big boy to have to get up and down and defensively we were just nasty, which is what we always are,” said Yutan Coach Justin Petersen.
The lead got to 29-14 after Knudsen sank a 23-footer on the Chieftains opening possession of the second half.
Unfortunately for the Chieftains they were held to just nine points the rest of the second half.
“They got the big bodies. They look the part of a great team, which they are…and
they are so well coached, we just struggled to get our feet on the floor in the second half,” said Petersen.
The Crusaders went on a 19-3 run over a ten minute span in the second half and after both teams had chances to win it in regulation the game went into overtime tied at 40.
The two teams combined for just 13 points in the 12 overtime minutes. With both squads valuing each possession, often times holding the ball for a minute or more
at a time before getting into a position to score.
The Chieftains trailed in both overtimes, but were bailed out each time on isolation baskets by Knudsen.
“We knew Trey had an advantage there and we wanted to get him isolated and give him some space with the ball in his hands and he came up with a couple of huge baskets in the overtime. Knudsen was the only player to score for the Chieftains in the three overtime periods and finished with a game-high 17
The only point of the third overtime came on Herbek’s free throw with zeroes on the clock.
“We wanted Isaac to get in the paint and make a referee make a decision,” said Grand Island Central Catholic Coach Tino Martinez. “That’s what he did.”
Senior Colby Tichota came through with 12 points, five rebounds and five blocked shots.
Junior point guard Brady Timm added eight points, and five assists.