Basketball Team Comes up just short at State Tourney
May 10, 2019
“We got the ball back and then obviously we lost the ball, and they got a bucket.” That is how Central head coach Eric Behrens remembers the final seconds of the 2019 Class A Boys State Basketball Tournament. That play would prove to be decisive as Omaha South beat Central 58-56 earlier this month at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
In the previous two seasons, Central had arrived at the State Tournament with lots of momentum. That momentum was halted each of the two previous years, as the Eagles got bounced in the quarterfinals both seasons. This year Central played Westside in the state quarterfinals, and it looked like the same thing was going to happen when Westside hit a three to take a 63-60 lead with 49.4 seconds left. But, Central responded with a quick 6-0 to lead by three with 9.7 left. Westside’s look to tie the game did not fall, and the Eagles advanced to the state semifinals. Behrens said Central was, “Fortunate to come out on top”, and it was a, “really competitive game.” He credits his players for making big plays down the stretch and winning the game.
In the semifinals, the Eagles played the #1 seed in the tournament, Bellevue West. Central may have played their best half of the season in the opening 16 minutes, as they led the Thunderbirds 37-17 at the break. Central was on cruise control in the second half leading 57-29 after three and winning the game 71-57. Behrens said, “I thought our guys played really well. I thought we attacked the press really well and changed up our defenses a little bit and just seemed to find some success. It was probably one of our better games of the year.”
Central was looking for its first state title since 2013 when they took the floor to play South in the final. Central jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, and led 16-9 after 8 minutes. It was a mostly even second quarter, and the Eagle led 29-23 at the break. South made their run in the third quarter and took a 36-35 lead late in the period. The lead then ballooned to 6 with 3:38 left, before Central went on a quick 9-3 run to tie it at 56 in the final minute. The Eagles played good defense, and got the ball back and had one shot to win the state title. But, South forced a Central Turnover and scored the game winning bucket in the final seconds. South 58, Central 56. Behrens said, it was “a lot like Thursday in the sense that it was just going to come down to the last minute.” He said, it was “an unfortunate way to lose a game.”