The DCS Tigers Boys Basketball Team are in the Class D1 State Semifinals!
The Tigers got the school’s first ever victory in the NSAA Boys State Basketball Tournament on Monday afternoon. The second seeded DCS Tigers won an edge of your seat, down to the wire, first round game over the Mead Raiders, 48 to 44, at the Lincoln North Star Gym.
The Tigers had a great crowd for the first time that the basketball tournament started on a Monday. Fans were treated to a great state tournament game. Every DCS player that played had an important role in the game’s outcome.
The teams were tied 11 to 11 after the first quarter and the Tigers held a slim 25-23 led at halftime. In the first half it was senior Nolan Burrell that lead the way for DCS. Burrell was dialed in, hitting two 3-pointers and battling inside for a total of 13 first half points. Sophomore Jackson Kerchal had a 8 of his 12 total points in the game in the first half.
The Raiders started the second half with a 7-point run tto take a 27-32 lead. The Tigers answered with a 8 to 2 spurt of their own to retake the lead a 35 to 34 that was capped by a 3-pointer by junior Andrew Englot. The Raiders then came back by hitting a 3-point shot of their own to grab the advantage back, 35 to 37 with 1:21 left in the third quarter. Andrew then scored again and was fouled on a drive to the basket with just a few hundredths of a second left in the quarter. He hit the free throw and the Tigers were down 38 to 39 going into the final period.
The fourth quarter came down to the final few possessions. Senior Quade Myers tied the game with a dribble drive and shot at the rim at 42 to 42 with over 3:00 left in the game. Myers then hit a 3-pointer to give DCS a 45 to 42 lead the next time down the court. The Tigers defense then came up with a stop and Mead had just 3 fouls in the half and was forced to waste time fouling to get the game to where DCS would shoot free throws.
Mead was finally able to put DCS at the the free throw line with 1:29 left and Tigers ahead by 3. DCS missed the one and one and the Raiders got the rebound with a chance to tie or get too within one. The Tigers defense came up with another stop and Mead was forced to foul again, putting the Tigers back on the free throw line with a one and one. DCS missed the shot and Mead had another chance to score. The Tigers defense held again and DCS was back at the line again with 17 seconds left. Junior Corbin Horner banked in the first free throw to put his team ahead by 4-points. He missed the second and Mead got the ball up the court and ran a play to score on a layup cutting the DCS advantage to 46 to 44. After the inbound pass, Mead fouled Burrell who went back to the free line for 2-shots with four seconds left. Burrell made both free throws, putting the Tigers ahead by 4-points, sealing the win. Mead got the ball in, but the Tigers were celebrating as the Raiders final shot missed at the buzzer. Final score 48 to 44 and DCS moved on the Class D1 semifinals. The Tigers outscored Mead 10 to 5 in the final quarter.
This was another team win for the Tigers. Burrell led the way with 15-points and his only 2-points in the second half came at the end hitting the two free throws. Kerchal had another complete game and was the only other Tiger in double figures with 12 points. He also had a good game rebounding. Andrew Englot came off the bench for 8-points and none were bigger than the 5-points toward the end of the third quarter. Senior Mark Nelms had 7 points in the game. Senior Quade Myers had 5 big points in the fourth quarter that included the 3-pointer with 3:08 to go that put DCS ahead 45 to 42. Junior Corbin Horner had just 1-point, but he made a number of big defensive plays and tipped two offensive rebounds late in the game that ended in baskets for the Tigers. Junior Alex Englot and Senior Cheve Lutz also came of the bench and played well for the Tigers.
DCS Head Coach Kris Freeland said his team did a really good job of taking care of the ball and didn’t panic when the game was on the line, taking advantage of their possessions late in the contest. “That has been the key to our success in our last five or six games,” he said. “We just have clutch kids step up when they need to step up.” Freeland said it was a huge win for the team. “They got the school record in victories and they are going to take some hardware home no matter what. I think they would like to see it sparkle. Gold shines better than silver and better than bronze, and I don’t know what fourth place is.”
The #2 Tigers record stands at 24 and 3 and will play #3 Loomis (23-4) in the Class D1 Semifinals at the Bob Deveny Sports Center in Lincoln at 10:45am on Wednesday. The other Class D1 Semifinals game features #1 North Platte St. Pat’s and #5 Burwell at 9AM.