The Scottsbluff Bearcats earned a hard fought, 53-42, win over Crete on Thursday night in the opening round of the Class B State Tournament in Lincoln.
With the win it’ll be Scottsbluff vs. Aurora in the semifinals at Pinnacle Bank Arena starting at 2:45 mountain time Friday afternoon.
On Thursday night Crete forced Scottsbluff to play a more patient style of basketball and over the course of four quarters the Bearcats proved to be up to the challenge.
Scottsbluff jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter only to watch Crete rattle off the final 10 points to lead 12-9 at the end of the opening eight minutes.
The Cardinals stretched the run to 14-0 early in the second quarter to lead 14-9 but Scottsbluff stayed within striking distance and in a really low scoring first half it was Crete on top at the break 20-18.
6’8 senior Landon Walker scored 10 of his game high 20 points in the first half. Crete had no answers for the big guy in the paint.
Meanwhile the Crete defense was able to hold Dru Kuxhausen to just 2 first half points.
Crete at times just turned their 1-3-1 trapping zone defense into a bit of a hybrid and just face guarded Kuxhausen off the ball and for the most part, limited his looks and shot attempts all night long.
Evan Hughes stepped up when called upon in the first half, canning two huge three point shots.
The second half started positively for the Cardinals. Crete jumped out with a 8-2 spurt to take a 28-20 lead.
Scottsbluff responded immediately with a patented 14-0 run to go in front 34-28.
A big part of the run was Walker down low and reserve guard Gabe Patton. Walker scored six more in the quarter and Patton drilled two monster treys during the run.
Crete hung tough, forcing some turnovers with their swarming, pressure, zone defense and scored the last four points of the third quarter as Scottsbluff took a 34-32 lead into the fourth.
After Crete tied the game 34-34 early in the fourth quarter Dru Kuxhausen had his best stretch of the night, when it mattered most. Late.
Despite the attention he received from Crete defensively, Kuxhausen stayed patient and it paid off as he got a few shots to go late. He had 8 of his 12 points in the final stanza.
Devin Buderus scored 5 in the fourth and Walker finished off his big night with 4 more down the stretch as Scottsbluff pulled away for the double digit win, 53-42.
Walker finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Kuxhausen had the 12 while Patton finished with 8 points off the bench and Hughes added those 6 first half points.
Scottsbluff moves into the semifinals tomorrow where they’ll take on Aurora. In last year’s Final Four matchup Scottsbluff beat Aurora 65-59.
Aurora looked outstanding tonight, smashing Elkhorn South 75-46. Aurora’s record sits at 25-1.
KNEB will have the broadcast on 94.1 The Brand and kneb.com starting at 2:30 p.m. mountain time with opening tip scheduled for 2:45 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
In the first game of the day on Thursday at PBA Alliance might have played their best game of the season, beating Platteview 65-50, to advance to the first semifinal tomorrow afternoon.
Austin Luger was the best player on the floor in the win for the Bulldogs. He finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Alliance plays top seed Gretna at 1 p.m. mountain time on Friday.
In D-2 action Mullen got a win over defending state champion Humphrey St. Francis, 45-44.
It was Mullen’s first win the state tournament since 1923.
Mullen will play top seed Riverside tomorrow in the semifinals at 6 p.m. mountain time at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
Riverside advanced with a 70-27 win over Garden County.