LINCOLN – The Elmwood-Murdock boys saw Hastings St. Cecilia end their season in 2017 with a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot at the state tournament.
Bancroft-Rosalie-Lyons-Decatur Northeast pushed the replay button on that scenario in a dramatic state tournament game Thursday night.
BRLD freshman Lucas Vogt made a 30-foot shot as the buzzer sounded to give the Wolverines a 48-47 overtime victory. Vogt launched his attempt from the righthand arc and watched as it sank straight through the net. The jumper capped a roller-coaster evening that put a standing-room-only crowd at Lincoln Southeast through a range of emotions.
Elmwood-Murdock head coach Matt Shelsta said the opening quarter played a large role in the Class C-2 game’s eventual outcome. Fifth-seeded BRLD made five 3-pointers in the first period and built a 17-6 lead after eight minutes. That forced Elmwood-Murdock to expend extra energy to whittle away the deficit in the next three quarters of regulation.
“Our effort was the difference,” Shelsta said. “We gave no effort in the first quarter, and they made us pay for it. We decided to play a lot harder after the first quarter, and things started to go our way after that. Unfortunately, you can’t have a stretch like that in the state tournament. You don’t get rewarded if you take certain parts of the game off, and we did that and BRLD didn’t.”
The fourth-seeded Knights (19-5) erased a 26-13 halftime deficit in the third period. The team pulled within 26-25 by holding the Wolverines scoreless for the first 6:16 of the quarter. Zach Rust’s third 3-pointer of the period then helped E-M deadlock the game at 28-28.
Elmwood-Murdock took a 34-31 lead after Wes Dreamer produced an offensive rebound and putback with 3:19 to go in regulation. A coast-to-coast layup by Vogt and two free throws by Trenton Gatewood gave BRLD a 35-34 edge with 20.3 seconds to play.
The teams then traded pressure-packed shots. Rust canned a 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds left to help E-M go up 37-35. Vogt then took the ball upcourt and drilled a diagonal bounce pass to Kenyan Lovejoy through the lane. Lovejoy made a layup with 1.6 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Short jumpers from Dreamer and Nolan Langfeldt gave the Knights an early 41-40 lead in overtime, and Dreamer’s rebound and putback at the 2:10 mark made it 43-40. Lovejoy then produced one of the game’s biggest plays with BRLD down 44-41. He dove on his stomach toward the sideline and tapped a loose basketball downcourt. The hustle play resulted in a fast-break layup by Will Gatzemeyer with 1:13 left.
Jaxon Johnson set up the winning sequence for BRLD (25-2) after he grabbed a missed free throw by E-M with 6.5 seconds left. He tossed the basketball to Vogt, who raced ahead and thought about trying to drive inside to tie things up at 47-47. He saw the game clock winding down and decided to unleash a long-distance trey instead. His teammates mobbed him on the court after the attempt went in.
Dreamer ended the evening with 21 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Rust finished with 15 points, one assist and one rebound, and Payton Frahm collected four points, four rebounds and one assist.
Carter Bornemeier generated four points, five rebounds and three steals. Langfeldt tallied two points and four rebounds, Austin Meisinger made one rebound and one assist and Massimo Lojing scored one point. Tyler Marlatt chipped in one rebound for E-M.
Shelsta said he felt the Knights could hold their heads high after the contest. The senior group of Rust, Meisinger, Frahm and Caleb Marlatt became the first E-M class to qualify for three consecutive state tournaments. The seniors helped the program register an 80-28 mark during their four-year careers.
“The season was definitely successful,” Shelsta said. “We went 19-5 and we had guys who played in their third straight state tournament. There are a lot of kids who never get to be on this stage even once, so to be able to play at state for three straight years is an incredible achievement.
“This group of seniors has played a really big role in that success, and I’m very proud of them for the way they’ve conducted themselves this season. Not only were they great leaders on the court, but they’ve done a lot of really good things in the school and community. They’ve been great examples of how to do things the right way.
“When we went into the locker room after the game we told the kids that we love them and we know they’ll succeed in life. They kept on working this season after every game, and that’s what we’ll continue to do. We’ll keep on doing the best we can not only in basketball games, but in teaching life lessons through this sport as well.”
BRLD 17 9 2 9 11 – 48
Elmwood-Murdock 6 7 15 9 10 – 47
Lovejoy 2-12 2-2 7, Gatewood 1-3 3-3 5, Vogt 6-16 1-2 17, D. Snyder 4-11 2-2 14, Johnson 1-1 1-1 3, Ronnfeldt 0-2 0-0 0, M. Snyder 0-1 0-0 0, Beutler 0-0 0-0 0, Gatzemeyer 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 15-47 9-10 48.
Langfeldt 1-2 0-0 2, Bornemeier 2-11 0-1 4, Rust 4-15 3-4 15, Dreamer 7-11 7-9 21, Frahm 2-3 0-0 4, Marlatt 0-0 0-0 0, Lojing 0-1 1-2 1, Meisinger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-43 11-16 47.