LINCOLN — A strong finish, which it lacked in two previous meetings with Omaha South, has landed Papillion-La Vista in the Class A boys basketball championship game for the first time since 1993.
The Monarchs outscored South 14-4 down the stretch, getting eight points in a row from Nate Maloley, for a 55-49 semifinal win Friday at the Devaney Center.
“I give our guys a ton of credit,'' Monarchs coach Jason Ryan said. “South took the lead and we could have easily folded.
“Nate hit a big 3, JaPree (Murry) made a layup, and we rebounded. We got some big stops when we needed them.”
Murry, a senior guard whose family moved from Atlanta before the school year began, had a game-high 15 points.
“You get in games like this, and Matt Safranek gets two big 3s and finishes with eight (points), Nate's big 3, Keenan Neelon off the bench,” Ryan said. “We had contributions up and down the line. If you want to win a championship, that's what needs to happen.”
The No. 3 Monarchs (24-3) will meet No. 1 Omaha Central (24-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Devaney.
They trailed No. 2 South, last year's runner-up to Central, 45-41 after a 3-pointer by Tyler Hall capped a 9-0 run with 4:45 to play.
Papillion-La Vista's 6-foot-6 senior forward, Brett Doughtery, had a putback basket, then made one of two free throws. Maloley then made two free throws, a 3 that was good for a 47-45 lead, a basket and the first of two free throws for eight consecutive points for the Monarchs.
“I wasn't worried about getting my points,'' said Maloley, whose only other basket in a 10-point game was in the first quarter. “The fourth quarter I had my shots and I just took them.”
While the Monarchs were taking their first six-point lead in the closing minutes, South was miserable on offense. Cam Williams, their season scoring leader, had his second missed dunk of the half, the Packers missed two shots on their next possession and then went to the line on three straight possessions and went 1-of-5.
“We just had some really bad decisions,'' South coach Bruce Chubick said. “We talked about that all year, being in close games and making right decisions.
“We dodged some bullets this year making bad decisions, and that didn't happen today. We got caught.”
Williams and Hexom each had 14 points to lead the Packers, who play No. 4 Benson at 10 a.m. at Lincoln High for third place.
Papillion-La Vista (24-3)............................14 12 10 19—55
Omaha South (24-4)................................. 8 14 13 14—49
Papio: JaPree Murry 15, Brett Dougherty 13, Nate Maloley 10, Matt Safranek 8, Keenan Neelon 6, Spencer Lewis 2, Tyler Dougherty 1.
South: Cam Williams 14, Lyle Hexom 14, Buay Tuach 9, Tyler Hall 6, Bobby Lage 6.
Officials: Larry Hagedorn, Larry Wells, Greg Warneke.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1041, email@example.com; twitter.com/stuOWH
* * *
>> Video: See Papillion-La Vista vs. Omaha South game highlights: