Scouting reports on Omaha Central are going to change after what Deandre Hollins-Johnson did Thursday night to Omaha South.
The senior point guard had a career-high 20 points, including three 3-pointers, as the Eagles repeated as the Metro Conference's boys basketball holiday tournament champions with a 64-51 victory.
“I know my job as point guard is to fill in where needed,'' Hollins-Johnson said. “Yeah, I do feel disrespected sometimes because nobody thinks about me as a scorer.”
Tre'Shawn Thurman added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds and Tra-Deon Hollins had 11 points as nationally ranked Central (9-2) stayed unbeaten against in-state competition.
South, which was second to the Eagles in the preseason ratings, fell to 10-1. It was the second straight loss to Central in the tournament finals for the Packers, who ended 0-4 against the Eagles last season with a loss in the Class A title game.
“Like one of our players said, whoever lost this game is going to buckle down at practice and get better,'' South coach Bruce Chubick said.
An estimated 3,200 were in the Civic Auditorium arena for the tournament's return to its birthplace for its golden-anniversary season. UNO hosted the finals from 1997-98 through last season.
Hollins-Johnson, who's 5-foot-10, made 3 of 4 3-pointers, 6 of 7 shots overall and 5 of 8 free throws.
“He played great when we needed him,'' Central coach Eric Behrens said. “As our point guard, he's been through this before.”
Chubick said Central has so many scoring options that it's hard to defend all of them. The Packers held Louisville recruit Akoy Agau to four shots and four points as they often had 6-8 senior Lyle Hexom and 6-7 junior Kevin Harkins in the game at the same time.
South trailed by 12 at halftime, after getting outscored 23-10 in the second quarter, and was behind 46-35 with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
Senior guard Cam Williams, who led the Packers with 15 points, scored their next seven points to bring his team within six, 48-42, to start the fourth quarter.
The Packers, after a Hexom free throw, went scoreless for the next six minutes to let Central build a 61-43 lead with 2:02 left.
The Eagles' first six points in that 13-0 run came in less than 60 seconds on a Hollins-Johnson free throw, a Thurman 3 after Hollins-Johnson had beat the four South rebounders in the lane to his missed second free throw and KJ Scott's basket off a Hollins-Johnson assist.
“Shot selection,” Chubick said. “We were doing well around the hoop and in the lane and we're 1 of 14 on 3s and we kept jacking them up. Those aren't what we want.”
Harkins, who was playing Thursday night with a cracked rib, and Hexom combined for 10 of the Packers' first 12 points. South led by one after the first quarter before getting outscored 17-4 in the first 5:20 of the second period to trail 30-16.
“Defensive rebounding is the key when playing South,'' Behrens said. “I thought we got better keeping them from second shots.”
It was the third holiday tournament title in four years and the eighth overall for Central, but only the second time that it has won in consecutive years. The other title double was in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
“Any chance you get for a holiday title, a state title, it all feels good,'' Hollins-Johnson said.
Central's week isn't done. The Eagles have regular-season games Friday at home against Papillion-La Vista South and Saturday at Omaha North as they will have played five times in six days.
“There's a lot left in our legs,'' Hollins-Johnson said. “This is what we love to do, play basketball. Coach Behrens ran us a lot before the season, too, to get us in condition for a week like this.”
Omaha South (10-1)........................12 10 20 9—51
Omaha Central (9-2)........................11 23 14 16—64
S: Buay Tuach 4-7 2-4 10, Tyler Hall 0-8 0-0 0, Cam Williams 6-15 3-6 15, Lyle Hexom 3-8 2-6 9, Kevin Harkins 4-7 1-2 9, James Dumes 2-8 0-0 4, Marquise Collins 0-1 0-0 0, Arop Arop 0-0 0-0 0, Bobby Lage 1-8 2-2 5. Totals 20-62 10-20 51.
C: Akoy Agau 1-4 2-2 4, KJ Scott 4-9 1-2 9, Tra-Deon Hollins 2-10 7-9 11, Deandre Hollins-Johnson 6-7 5-8 20, Tre'Shawn Thurman 5-11 2-2 14, Nick Billingsley 2-7 2-2 6. Totals 20-48 19-25 64.
3-point goals: S 1-14 (Tuach 0-1, Hall 0-5, Williams 0-4, Lage 1-4), C 5-14 (Scott 0-2, Hollins 0-2, Hollins-Johnson 3-4, Thurman 2-4, Billingsley 0-2). Total fouls: S 18, C 11. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. Turnovers: S 7, C 10. Rebounds: S 41 (Hexom 9), C 39 (Thurman 8). Field-goal percentage: S .323, C .417. Free-throw percentage: S .500, C .760. A: 3,200 (est.).
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