LINCOLN – The streak lives on.
Just like the previous 51 opponents, Grand Island Central Catholic couldn’t find a way to outscore BRLD (Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur) in Saturday’s Class C-2 state championship game.
The Wolverines (29-0) used 16 points and nine assists from Lucas Vogt to roll past the Crusaders 61-47 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“He’s one heck of a player,” BRLD coach Cory Meyer said. “I’m lucky to have him. He’s a floor general and a coach out there on the floor. He knows what to do. He’s so smart – so smart – and so slick, and a great ballplayers.
“It’s really cool that he played so well and got his 1,000th point here. He’s just going to add to it.”
BRLD earned its second straight state title and extended its winning streak to 52 games, the sixth longest in state history.
Meyer said a strong start and a solid defensive effort against GICC’s 6-foot-9 post Dei Jengmer keyed the win.
“The way we started was something I was really hoping for,” he said. “(In Friday’s overtime win over Sutton), we just didn’t have much energy. We were flat. Tonight, we just came out ready to play. That’s something the kids have to dig in, and they did that.
“Before the game, talking to the posts, they had to have a big game, and they did. They had a really good game. We know GICC really tries to get the ball inside, and we did a good job there denying (Jengmer) the ball and helping backside.”
For the second straight evening, Grand Island Central Catholic (25-4) got off to a rough start and trailed by double digits by the end of the first quarter.
“We talked about the importance of getting off to a quick start on both ends of the floor, and we knew how good BRLD was, and Lucas Vogt in particular,” GICC coach Tino Martinez said. “And it just didn’t happen for us. We got into a hole from basically the get-go, and it was too big a hole to dig yourself out of against a team like BRLD.”
The Crusaders came up empty on their first four possession while Will Gatzemeyer scored five points to stake BRLD out to a 7-0 lead 2:29 into the game.
“We were pretty stagnant,” Martinez said. “I think we had to be a little jitterish. We turned the ball over four of the first six possessions.”
Russ Martinez hit a 3-pointer to get GICC on the scoreboard nine seconds later, and the Crusaders got things going on the offensive end to claw to within 9-7.
But the Wolverines closed out the quarter with nine unanswered points and turned that into a 12-0 run on a Gatzemeyer 3-point to go up 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Marcus Lowry got the Crusaders back within eight with back-to-back 3-pointers, but BRLD answered with a 10-0 run to lead 31-13 at the half.
GICC stormed back from 15 points down to defeat Yutan in triple overtime in Friday’s semifinal, but there would be no comeback this time. In addition to battling BRLD, Central Catholic was also fighting the effects from that lengthy win.
“Isaac Herbek was cramping. Koby Bales was cramping,” Tino Martinez said. “That probably had to do a little with the extra minutes (Friday) night. This is the first time we’ve played three games in a row. …
“I just hate to take anything from BRLD because they’re just so good.”
BRLD shots 59.5% from the floor (22-for-37) while the Crusaders were 16-for-43 (37.2%).
Dylan Beutler tied Vogt with a game-high 16 points and Gatzemeyer finished with 12 for the Wolverines.
Herbek led Central Catholic with 14 points. Russ Martinez chipped in 12 and Lowry had 10.
With its top seven players returning next year, the Crusaders hope to use the loss as a learning experience to build on for next year.
“We were exposed a little bit tonight,” Tino Martinez said. “I didn’t think we handled the ball pressure. Lucas Vogt can put so much pressure on the ball, and our guards simply weren’t good enough tonight. There were nights where they were, but tonight wasn’t one of them.
“We have a lot of learning lessons. I think we need to gather ourselves a little bit, gather our thoughts and we need to get back into the gym at some point and get some individual skill work done knowing what we weren’t able to do.”