Aurora's Hunter Holliday

Aurora's Hunter Holliday (back) and Lexington's Andrew Saiz (23) battle for a loose ball during Monday's class B district 5 semi-final game at Grand Island Senior High School in Grand Island.


A little fatigue went a long way for Hastings in Monday’s Class B, District 5 semifinal against Northwest.

The Tigers hit their first four shots in the final quarter at Grand Island Senior High to start turning a one-point lead into a 45-30 victory.

And Hastings coach Lance Creech said the fact that his team was getting tired was what allowed its offense to become much more productive down the stretch.

"We got a little bit fatigued, and we’re a better team when we’re a little tired simply because we have a better focus and we don’t try to play so fast," Creech said. "We’re more patient. When we’re full of adrenaline, we’re kind of hopping around. In the first half, things don’t usually look so good.

"We’re a little better team in the second half when we’re slower and a little bit more patient."

That was true when Hastings (10-12) went 0-for-4 from the floor with one rebound in the first quarter. The Tigers were 4-for-13 overall in the first half, but started to wake up in the third quarter when they connected on 5 of 11 shots to take a 25-24 lead.

A 5-for-7 fourth from the floor along with an 8-for-10 performance from the free-throw line helped Hastings move on to Tuesday’s 7 p.m. district final against Aurora.

"They did a good job in the fourth quarter of producing points, but that’s free throws too," Northwest coach Ryan Rathke said. "We had to start getting out getting after them after we got down four or five points, and then they did a great job of attacking the basket. Now they’re getting to the free-throw line by drawing fouls."

A different Tiger was responsible for each of the baskets during the 4-for-4 start of the fourth. That balance held for the entire game for Hastings, which got between 10 and seven points from each starter.

"We’re not a very explosive team on the offensive end, as you can see, so it was really good for some kids to step up and make some baskets," Creech said. "It was key because Bryant Menke and Sam Reimer sparked us. They hit a couple shots to start the second half, and it was something that you typically don’t plan for. You’re usually putting a load on Morgan (Karloff) and on Vinny (Schmidt)."

Karloff and Reimer each finished with 10 points. Schmidt added nine, Menke chipped in eight while Zane Bender totalled seven points and 10 rebounds.

Northwest never got its offense going. The Vikings (9-15) shot 14-for-45 (31.1 percent) from the floor, including a dismal 1-for-16 effort on 3-pointers.

Rathke said a lack of production on offense cost Northwest.

"I really thought our defense was very effective the first half," he said. "We needed to hit a few more perimeter shots that were open looks, and we had some looks inside that we didn’t convert on. I thought we should have been up eight, nine, 10 points at halftime versus three. We should have had a double-digit lead if we had hit some shots that we’re capable of hitting."

That was the storyline for much of the season for the Vikings.

"It was a season that was up-and-down, and I thought the theme tonight in terms of lack of production was our theme in a lot of games this year," Rathke said. "There were a lot of games where we had a good defensive game and didn’t produce a lot of points."

Hastings, with the Vikings coming out in a triangle-and-two, didn’t make a field goal until 9:15 into the game.

"I told our guys about a week ago when we figured out what the district seedings were going to be that you’ve got to understand that Northwest is going to do something we haven’t seen all season," Creech said. "Fortunately we had prepared for a triangle-and-two to face Grand Island (on Feb. 17). We anticipated them running that, so we had a little bit of preparation.

"We didn’t execute great, but we had some organization. The problem was we were very impatient in the first half offensively."

Tanner Lierman and Christian Ellsworth each had eight points for the Vikings, while Brook Brown finished with seven. Ellsworth and Brown are among the seven seniors on this season’s roster.

"We have a lot of seniors on our team, and I wish them the best," Rathke said. "They’ve all got bright futures ahead of them. They put a lot of effort and time into the basketball program the last four years."

Hastings will now turn its attention to Aurora. The Huskies stormed back in the fourth quarter to edge the Tigers 49-47 on Jan. 12.

"Obviously we’re hoping for a win, but it’s going to take a monumental effort on our part," Creech said. "Aurora’s a good team — a better team than the first time we played them. They’re a team that has improved greatly from the first time that we played them, and we lost to them by two in the first matchup. I think we’ve got their attention, and they know that we can be a team that can be capable.

"But we’ve got to come out and execute, and it’s a very quick turnaround."

Hastings 45, Northwest 30

HASTINGS (10-12)

Menke 3-7 0-0 8, Schmidt 3-6 3-4 9, Karloff 3-5 3-4 10, Reimer 3-9 2-2 10, Bender 2-4 3-4 7, Goodin 0-0 0-0 0, Vu 0-0 0-0 0, Callicott 0-0 0-0 0, Hayden 0-0 1-2 1, Craig 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-31 12-16 45.

NORTHWEST (9-15)

Daws 0-2 0-0 0, Mettenbrink 0-3 0-0 0, Lierman 4-14 0-0 8, Ellsworth 4-10 0-0 8, B. Brown 3-10 0-0 7, T. Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Schliep 2-2 1-1 5, R. Glause 1-3 0-0 2, Ludwig 0-1 0-0 0, Fredricks 0-0 0-0 0, B. Glause 0-0 0-0 0, Jacobsen 0-0 0-0 0, Ericksen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-45 1-1 30.

Hastings 4 10 11 20—45

Northwest 10 7 7 6—30

3-point field goals—Hastings 5-15 (Menke 2-4, Schmidt 0-2, Karloff 1-3, Reimer 2-5), Northwest 1-16 (Mettenbrink 0-2, Lierman 0-4, Ellsworth 0-5, R. Glause 0-1, B. Brown 1-4). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Hastings 18 (Bender 10), Northwest 29 (B. Brown 6). Assists—Hastings 7 (Menke, Schmidt, Reimer 2), Northwest 7 (B. Brown 3). Turnovers—Hastings 3, Northwest 10. Total fouls—Hastings 10, Northwest 16. Technicals—none.

Aurora 70, Lexington 50

No. 4-rated Aurora turned what could have been a huge negative into a positive during Monday’s Class B, District 5 semifinal against Lexington.

The Huskies saw 6-foot-9 junior post Austin Allen land hard on his back after putting away a missed layup with 5:15 left in the second quarter.

But by the time Allen returned to the floor three minutes later, his teammates had used a relentless press to expand a nine-point lead to 17.

Aurora (23-1) coasted from there and advanced with a 70-50 win.

"Aus went down there, and I think it kind of sent a spark through our kids," Huskies coach Tom Leininger said. "I think they took it up a notch because of that in kind of a rallying cry and went after it and put some pressure on them. We turned them over, which turned into quick baskets for us."

Lexington (8-18) gave Aurora all it wanted in the first quarter and hung within 17-14 entering the second period. But the Huskies eliminated their early turnovers and started to pull away before Allen went down in the middle of an 18-3 run.

"We turned the ball over in the first quarter all over the place," Leininger said. "I think we had seven the first quarter, and then we just had three the rest of the game. To me that was a huge difference when we were getting shots and the end of every possession."

Tommy Leininger paced the Huskies with 21 points. The junior guard went 10-for-14 from the floor. Allen added 12 points, Kade Moural chipped in 10 and Henry Penner finished with 10 points and six assists.

Andrew Saiz led the Minutemen with 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers. Trevor McKeone added 17 points.

Aurora faces Hastings in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. district final. The Huskies won their closest game of the season 49-47 over the Tigers on Jan. 12.

"Hastings was up by nine with us in the fourth quarter, and we came back to beat them by two," Tom Leininger said. "I’m sure they’re not intimidated by us at all in any way, shape or form. We’ll have to be at the top of our game."

Aurora 70, Lexington 50

LEXINGTON (8-18)

Hernandez 1-3 0-0 2, Saiz 6-9 0-0 18, Leger 2-5 0-0 5, McKeone 8-14 0-0 17, Fagot 0-2 0-0 0, Young 2-3 0-0 4, Block 1-4 0-0 3, Lauby 0-2 1-2 1, Toledo 0-0 0-0 0, Mora 0-0 0-0 0. Benjamin 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 1-2 50.

AURORA (23-1)

Moural 4-6 0-2 10, Stevenson 2-4 0-0 4, Allen 6-12 0-0 12, Leininger 10-14 0-0 21, Penner 4-7 2-3 10, Schierman 0-1 1-3 1, Vinkenberg 1-2 0-0 3, Wilson 1-1 1-2 3, Holliday 2-4 0-0 6, Herzberg 0-0 0-0 0, Goertzen 0-0 0-0 0, Schuster 0-0 0-0 0, Pohlmann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-51 4-10 70.

Lexington 14 8 16 12—50

Aurora 17 24 11 18—70

3-point field goals—Lexington 9-24 (Lauby 0-2, Hernandez 0-2, Young 0-1, Saiz 6-9, Leger 1-2, McKeone 1-4, Block 1-3, Fagot 0-1), Aurora 6-13 (Moural 2-3, Scheierman 0-1, Vinkenberg 1-2, Stevenson 0-1, Holliday 2-3, Leininger 1-1, Penner 0-2). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Lexington 20 (Leger 4), Aurora 30 (Allen 7). Assists—Lexington 11 (Leger 3), Aurora 13 (Penner 6). Turnovers—Lexington 16, Aurora 11. Total fouls—Lexington 14, Aurora 5. Technicals—none.

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