STATE BASKETBALL -- Bears roll to title game with 65-49 win
LINCOLN — When things get physical, it’s best to keep your calm.
Laurel-Concord-Coleridge and North Platte St. Patrick’s played a very physical matchup in Friday’s first Class D-1 semifinal at the Nebraska State Boys Basketball Championships, but the Bears managed to keep their cool and avoid fouling out their key players as they posted a 65-49 win at the Devaney Center to advance to Saturday’s 9 a.m. championship game.
The two teams played fast and tight throughout the first half, and LCC’s speed forced the Irish into several early fouls that the Bears were able to convert into points for an early 10-2 lead.
With the score tied at 2-2, Ty Erwin scored to give LCC the lead for good and Evan Haisch followed with a basket to make it 6-2. Noah Schutte hit the first of two free throws, then made it a four-point play when his second shot missed and Haisch got the ball back to the senior for a trifecta to make it 10-2 midway through the opening period.
The Bears led by as many as 11 on two Erwin free throws to make it 18-7 with 1:46 to go in the opening period, and back-to-back baskets by Schutte early in the second period gave LCC their biggest lead of the first half at 24-12.
The Irish were able to get the deficit down to seven points late in the first half before Erwin hit a runner in the lane that rolled around the rim and fell as the clock expired, giving LCC a 38-29 halftime advantage.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jack Heiss brought the Irish to within five at 40-35, and the Bears had to work around foul troubles as Erwin and Haisch were both whistled for their fourth fouls midway through the third period.
LCC weathered that storm and forced two of the Irish’s key players to foul out early in the fourth quarter, and the Irish never got closer than eight points in the final period as the Bears moved on to the school’s first state title appearance since Laurel-Concord won the C-2 title in 2001.
Schutte scored a game-high 28-points to pace the 25-5 Bears. Erwin added 14 points, Haisch scored nine, Cael Hartung put in six, Evan Schmit had five and Austin Hall had three. Heiss paced the Irish with 16 points.
LCC will face either Southern Valley or Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in Saturday’s 9 a.m. final at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
LCC 65, North Platte St. Pat’s 49
LCC 20 18 13 14 — 65
NP St. Pat’s 12 17 15 5 — 49
LCC — Schmit 5, Hartung 6, Schutte 28, Haisch 9, Erwin 14, Hall 3.
NPSP — Heirigs 9, Heiss 16, O’Malley 5, Condon 6, Aufdenkamp 1, Davies 2, Branch 12.
Complete coverage in next week’s edition of The Wayne Herald.