Class C-2 No. 1-rated Grand Island Central Catholic found the type of offensive performance it was searching for during much of the season just as the postseason tipped off on Tuesday.
The Crusaders went 10-for-15 on 3-pointers in the first half and scored 57 of the game’s first 62 points to blow out Heartland 67-13 in the first round of the Subdistrict 8 tournament.
GICC coach Tino Martinez said the Crusaders had fun playing, and that played a large part in the team getting on a roll from the start and hardly slowing down.
“The kids did play well,” he said. “They looked like they enjoyed it and played with energy. Sometimes positive things happen when you have that mindset. I thought our kids had that mindset.”
Leading 5-2, Central Catholic (20-4) scored the next 23 points. The first 12 came on 3-pointers from Tanner Turek after he first entered the game.
Russ Martinez hit three straight 3-point tries in the second period to continue the deluge of treys.
“Tanner came in hot and had four in a row in the first quarter,” Tino Martinez said. “When you can bring in a guy like him off the bench that can stroke it like him, he’s a weapon. He did a good job of knocking down open shots, as did Russ, Brayton Johnson, Brayden Wenzl, Isaac Herbek. We have several guys who can do that.”
Turek finished with 18 points and Russ Martinez added 11.
Heartland finished its season 14-6. GICC put together this performance against a team that scored at least 70 points seven times this season and had 106 points against Exeter-Milligan in early December.
“They do have some dangerous guys, (Trajan) Arbuck and (Trev Peters),” Tino Martinz said. “They do score the ball well, but we took away some things they want to do. Our size was a factor. They’re used to getting to the rim and finishing. With Dei (Jengmer), Gil (Jengmer) and even Marcus (Lowry) in there as a shot blocker, it was hard to get things to the rim against us.”
Koby Bales returned from an injury and had eight points and five assists for the Crusaders, who spread out the minutes. Tino Martinez said that is especially nice for the Jengmer brothers inside as well as players like Lowry who have logged a lot of minutes this season.
Centennial 59, Doniphan-Trumbull 51
Class C-2 No. 6-rated Centennial forced Doniphan-Trumbull to play catch-up from the very start of Tuesday’s Subdistrict 8 semifinal.
And the Cardinals never could quite do it.
Centennial scored the first six points of the game, quickly added an 8-0 run then held off Doniphan-Trumbull’s continuous comeback bids to post a 59-51 victory.
The Broncos (17-5) led 20-7 early in the second quarter after they completed their 8-0 spurt.
“We got off to a good start,” Centennial coach Cameron Scholl said. “Last Friday in our last regular-season game (against Wilber-Clatonia) we were awful in the first half, so it was good to see. We kind of emphasized that.
“We attacked the basket the way we wanted to. They aren’t big inside, so we thought maybe we could do that. ...Overall we did a really good job of executing what we wanted to for about 30 minutes of the basketball game.”
It was the type of start the Cardinals (15-7) didn’t want to see.
“They jumped out on us right away, and they can do such a good job of controlling the ball,” Cardinals coach Kelan Buhr said. “You want to start every game well. We did not tonight. We kept fighting, and I’m proud of that, but we’d like to have that first quarter back for sure.”
The Cardinals cut it to six points on three different occasions but got no closer. They got within seven in the final 90 seconds when Centennial struggled while committing eight of its 13 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Scholl said the Broncos are used to responding when teams try to come back against them.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces this year or guys who maybe didn’t play quite as important roles last year, and we’ve done that all year,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of close games, so we learned how to do that as the season wore on.”
Buhr said: “Any time you’re trying to come back this time of year, it’s just tough. You give their kids credit for making plays, but I love our kids and how they never quit.”
With one senior combined, both teams appear to have bright futures.
Lane Zimmer had 21 points and Jacob Bargen added 17 for Centennial, which faces No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic in Thursday’s 7 p.m. subdistrict championship game.
“They’re the best team in the state, there’s no question,” Scholl said. “They’d win Class B with the amount of talent they have, their size, their skill. Tino does a really good job of coaching them. There’s no question they’re the best team in C-2 if not anywhere other than Class A, and I’d argue with anybody who disagrees with that.
“It’s a big test — a huge test — but we’re glad for the opportunity.”
Blake Detamore had 15 points, Ethan Smith 12 and Myles Sadd 10 for the Cardinals, who returned only one starter from last year. Buhr said the players starting in the program in third grade and a high skill level that made up for the team’s lack of height helped it turn into a surprising 15-win squad this year.
But, unfortunately, this loss likely meant the season was over for Doniphan-Trumbull.
“Hopefully my math is wrong or there’s a weird upset out in Colorado or something, but to my knowledge this is it,” Buhr said. “We’re done.
“With returning little varsity experience, no seniors out and freshmen playing large roles, if you had told me at the beginning of the year we’d win 15 games, I don’t know if I would have believed you. But you go through the course of the season and then you get down to it and you start smelling substate and an opportunity to go to state again, it stings.”