Just looking at the records, Friday’s game between Papillion-La Vista and Bryan would be a blowout win for the Monarchs.
It turned out to be a hard-fought battle that ended with the Monarchs on top 59-51.
While the third-ranked Monarchs (18-3) have been one of the top teams in the state this season, the Bears (3-16) gave them all they could handle.
“They’re a scrappy team and they’ve been playing everyone close the three or four games,” Monarch coach Dan Moore said. “We didn’t play bad. It’s just the time of the year where games are going to be close.”
The Bears ended the third quarter on a 10-3 run to send the game to the fourth tied at 44-all.
After Papio’s Ed Chang made a basket to start the fourth, Javen Udifia hit a 3-pointer to give the Bears a 47-46 lead, their first advantage of the game.
The Bears surge to take the lead was a result of feeling confidence after making some shots.
“We just had some kids get the ball in the hoop,” Bryan coach Terrence O’Donnell said. “Everything gets better when the shots start to go down.”
The Monarchs didn’t trail for long as Chad Lechtenberg converted a layup on the game’s next possession, which started a 6-1 Monarch spurt that gave them a 52-48 lead with 3:35 left in the game.
A Tyler Nekola basket brought the Bears within 52-50 but the Monarchs answered when Isaac Hiebert broke open for a layup on the inbounds play with 1:15 left. The Monarchs clinched the game by making five of six free throws down the stretch.
Moore was happy with how his team performed at the end of the game to clinch the win.
“We faced some adversity tonight and persevered through it,” Moore said. “We did a lot of good things down the stretch, hit our free throws, played good defense.”
Chang led the Monarchs with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, his third triple-double of the season. Ayo Akinwole and Lechtenberg each scored a dozen points with Hiebert adding 10.
Trevion Crawford led the Bears with 16 points while Udofia added 12 points while Nekola grabbed 10 rebounds.
While the Bears didn’t come away with the victory, it’s another stepping stone for building a program.
“The future is bright for us but the future can be right now,” O’Donnell said. “If we can come into P-LV on senior night and be in it in the fourth quarter, we can play with anyone.
“That was as good of a game we’ve played. They played hard and played as a team.”
Papillion-La Vista 78, Millard South 71 - The Monarchs needed overtime to top the Patriots Saturday.
Papio’s Peyton Priest hit a late 3-pointer for tie it up at 69 and cap a 29-point Monarch fourth quarter to force overtime. The Monarchs dominated the overtime session 9-2 for the win.
Akinwole and Goamar Ruach each scored 17 points to lead Papio while Chang and Priest combined for 30 points.
Omaha Central 69, Bryan 52 - The Eagles pulled away with a nine-point scoring advantage in the fourth quarter.
Crawford led Bryan with 16 points with Udofia adding eight and Christian Crawford seven.
P-LV South 66, Bryan 58 -The Titans erased a 19-point deficit in the third quarter while Bryan used a tip-in at the buzzer by Udofia to force overtime.
The Titans controlled the OT session with a 9-1 scoring advantage.
The Bears opened up a 30-19 lead by halftime before the Titan offense started to score.
Zach Bussard scored 24 points with eight rebounds for the Titans.
Quintin Van Ackeren added 12 points and Isaac Simpson had eight.
Keelyn Moses led the Bears with 14 points with Trevion Crawford scoring 11 points.
P-LV South 56, Millard North 52 - The Titans turned a four-point halftime deficit into a three-point lead heading to the fourth quarter, where they scored 22 points to clinch the win.
Bussard led the Titans with 18 points while Nathan Jatczak and Jimmy Nekola each scored 11.