Adams Central edged out Northwest for the title 58-54 in the Central Conference Tournament championship game Saturday night at Northwest High School.
In a contest that looked more like a 3-point shooting competition than a game, this one saw 24 long bombs, 14 from Adams Central, and 10 from Northwest.
Northwest coach Chip Bahe said the Vikings just gave the Patriots too many second chances.
“We said at halftime we couldn’t be giving them second opportunities; we did a heck of a job,” Bahe said. “I thought we gave them too many chances and then they made some shots.”
Northwest led at the break 31-29. The first 15 points the Vikings made all came via the 3-pointer, a total of eight from beyond the arc in the first half, and only two the rest of the way.
Adams Central’s Gavin Lipovsky was on fire scoring all his 18 points from the perimeter.
“If we are open, we have a lot of shooters who will try it,” Lipovsky said.
He credits his teammates rebounding for making more opportunities for the Patriots to shoot the ball.
“We have three or four guys who are always crashing the boards, especially Dante Boelhower,” Lipovsky said. “He’s always going for the offensive boards and he keeps more possessions alive than we can even count.”
Adams Central coach Zac Foster said after playing man-to-man defense most of the game, they decided to switch it up late in the contest, and it worked down the stretch.
“As coaches we talked, and our identity is playing the 1-3-1,” Foster said. “We play harder when we play it, we play better offensively when we are in it. We are just more confident in it.”
Having just played each other on Jan. 21, both teams knew tonight’s match up would be a great challenge.
“What a great game,” said Foster. “They played so good and shot so well. And to weather that storm and be able to be down two at the half after how well they played in the first half, we just have the heart of champions.”
“If we just play like that and we lose, we would go shake their hand and move on. For our kids to not get rattled and not panic, we are just so lucky as coaches to be around guys who have the resiliency, that confidence,” said Foster.
Adams Central only led in the game briefly in the first quarter before Northwest took over shooting the long ball. The Vikings led until halfway through the fourth when they had a hard time just getting the shots to fall.
“I am tickled with how we played, we just didn’t finish the deal,” said Bahe.
He added how proud he was of all 15 guys on the team.
Alex Brandt sparked the offensive by shooting two of his three bombs in the first half.
“He’s a kid that has shot it well for us all season, and he was big tonight. Jump started us tonight.”
Foster said in preseason they always talk about being in championship games.
“We won our holiday tournament, we won this one, we can get a couple more hopefully with districts and state. I feel really good about it.”
Bahe said his guys need to look past this game and focus on the rest of season.
“We turned the calendar to February. We said we were going to be better time we turn the calendar, and we are still holding true to that,” he said.
“You now get into the grind of the season you just have to keep competing and keep getting better.”
Adams Central 11 18 15 14—58
Northwest 19 12 15 8—54
ADAMS CENTRAL — Lipovsky 18, Slechta 13, Boelhower 11, Foster 8, Smith 5.
NORTHWEST — Hageman 12, Brandt 11, Hayes 9, Walford 8, Juengst 7, Janky 5.
Crete 62, Northwest 18
The Crete girls showed why the Cardinals are so tough, pounding Northwest 62-18 Friday night to win their second straight Central Conference Tournament title.
The Cardinals were led by senior Morgan Maly who lit it up for 30 points.
“I had a little bit of a rough start, but my teammates kept finding me and I was able to shoot the ball,” Maly said.
She did scoring 18 of her points in the first half.
Crete coach John Larsen said for Maly, it was just another day at the office.
“She’s fantastic,” he said. “I am trying to lobby to get another year out of her.”
Larsen said winning the crown two years in a row defines his players.
“It’s great. It says a lot about the kids. Their development, their desire, and they still want to keep going, keep improving. That’s the nice thing. That’s what makes it a fun group to coach.”
Northwest held its own in the first quarter only trailing the Omaha- World Herald No. 6 team by four points, 16-12, but from there things unraveled.
Northwest’s offense scored just six more points the rest of the game combined.
“I thought the way we came out the first quarter was exactly what we need and prove to ourselves that we can play any time, any day, any where with Crete,” said Northwest coach Russ Moerer.
“For a 2-3 zone to discombobulate us like that, frankly, is disappointing,” added Moerer.
Moerer said the pace of the game really dictated the outcome.
“We knew going in if you take quick shots against their zone especially, they release players down court. They caught us in player transitions all night where we didn’t rotate back defensively.”
For Crete the game plan was simple, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
“We did a walk through and weren’t going to change a whole lot. We knew who we had to stop, Whitney (Brown) is a great player. We wanted to get out on their outside players and rebound and I thought we did a great job of that.”
“Those are basic fundamental things we know, but for some reason we weren’t able to focus,” said Moerer.
Northwest was led by Addie Esquivel who poured in seven points off the bench going 3-5 from the stripe.
Moerer said this one stings but there is a lot of basketball left in the season and they must move onward and upward come Monday.
“Our mentality is stay in the moment,” he said. “This is a painful moment and we need to understand why that happened and then Monday we need to flush it and get back to work.”
For the Cardinals, Maly said they too have more work to do. She said having the Central Conference crown again for the second consecutive year feels good, but they have bigger fish to fry.
“This isn’t the one we want,” she said referring to a state title.
Crete 16 23 18 5—62
Northwest 12 2 4 0—18
CRETE — Maly 30, Newton 14, Mach 9, Henning 4, Weyand 2.
NORTHWEST — Esquivel 7, Brown 6, Caspersen 4, Suttles 3.