On a buzzer-beater Wednesday night, Omaha South completed the much-anticipated Metro Conference boys basketball holiday tournament title-game pairing with Omaha Central.
Buay Tuoch did the honors for the undefeated Packers, grabbing a missed runner by Tyler Hall and laying it in for a 51-49 semifinal win over Papillion-La Vista at the Civic Auditorium.
“Tyler was supposed to attack the basket and everybody else was to go to the basket without going over the back,” Packers coach Bruce Chubick said.
Before South gave Papillion-La Vista its first loss of the season, Central (8-2) remained undefeated against in-state competition while turning back Connor Lusso's Millard West team 71-63. Lusso had the night's high of 30 points, including 15 of the Wildcats' 17 in the final quarter.
Central-South is the 8 p.m. game at the Civic after Bellevue West meets Millard West for the girls title at 6:15 p.m. It's the first time since 1996-97 that the arena has hosted the finals.
“I hope our game can send the Civic out in style,'' Chubick said. “We have to bring our A game. It can't be our B-plus game to have any shot at (Central).”
Central, which beat the Packers four times last year in an undefeated season, opened its semifinal by taking a 13-point lead over Millard West only to let the Wildcats back into the game.
“We have to play better than we did tonight,'' Central coach Eric Behrens said. “No doubt that Millard West outhustled us. But we made the plays down the stretch you need to make to win the close ones.”
Papio (9-1) scrapped on even terms with the Packers until the end in much the same fashion as a year ago, when the Monarchs lost to South in the Metro quarterfinals and Class A state semifinals but won in the regular season.
South (10-0) took a 49-44 lead on Bobby Lage's basket with 2½ minutes left, then watched the Monarchs tie the game from the foul line in the next 90 seconds.
Brett Daugherty, who led the Monarchs with 20 points, made two free throws, Nate Maloley made one of two and Daugherty, who had missed eight of his first 14 free throws, made two more for a 49-49 tie with 1:02 left.
“Brett showed some toughness there,'' Papio coach Jason Ryan said. “He had struggled at the line but made those two big ones.
“The last shot, we challenged the shooter but we let the other guys beat us to the ball.”
Hall and Cam Williams each scored 13 points for South. Maloley added 11 for the Monarchs.
Papillion-La Vista (9-1).......................17 9 9 14—49
Omaha South (10-0)..........................14 13 13 11—51
P: Brett Daugherty 20, Nate Maloley 11, Spencer Lewis 8, Keenan Nealon 6, Tyler Daugherty 2, Ja'Pree Murry 2.
S: Tyler Hall 13, Cam Williams 13, Buay Tuoch 9, Lyle Hexom 7, Bobby Lage 6, Kevin Harkins 3.
* * *
Central 71, Millard West 63
Lusso was much more of a factor than when he scored 11 points and the Wildcats lost to Central 70-51 last month.
“He'll take anybody on his back with him, that's what a competitor he is,'' Wildcats coach Bill Morrison said. “He was so off-balance shooting when we played them the first time.”
The Eagles led 63-52 before Lusso scored the next eight points to make it a three-point game with 2:18 left. West, however, frittered away its only possession with a chance to tie the game on a turnover.
Tre'Shawn Thurman's two free throws with 53.5 seconds left gave Central a 67-62 lead. Tra-Deon Hollins, whose 25 points led the Eagles, scored off a steal soon after and West never got closer than six points.
“We made some big baskets but we had some key turnovers you can't make against a team as good as them,'' Morrison said.
Louisville recruit Akoy Agau had 17 points, Nick Billingsley 12 and Thurman 10 for the Eagles.
Millard West (7-3)..........................18 14 14 17—63
Omaha Central (8-2).......................23 15 16 17—71
MW: Connor Lusso 30, Spencer Sharp 11, Nick Hargis 8, Josh Lallman 6, Ben Kositzke 6. Tyler Kallman 2.
C: Tra-Deon Hollins 25, Akoy Agau 17, Nick Billingsley 12, Tre'Shawn Thurman 10, KJ Scott 5, Deandre Hollins-Johnson 2.