It took the better part of 3½ quarters to get there, but Tuesday night's rematch of the second and third-ranked teams in the state eventually lived up to its billing.
And it ended in the same way the previous meeting had.
Top 10 No. 2 Omaha South built a 13-point lead with just more than five minutes to play, then had to hang on late for a 57-55 win over third-ranked Papillion-La Vista. The Packers also won by two when the teams played in the semifinals of the Metro Holiday Tournament.
“We knew that if we didn't bring our 'A' game the entire game, they'd get us,” South coach Bruce Chubick said. “And they almost did.”
After trailing for the majority of the first quarter, Papio finished off a 14-4 spurt in the second to grab a lead. The Monarchs then went more than eight minutes without a bucket — they scored just one point in that stretch — as South scored 16 in a row to take control.
The Packers' lead would grow to as many as 14 in the third before Papio began chipping away. The Monarchs nearly completed the comeback when Nate Maloley hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 16.6 seconds to play.
Maloley, who had made 7 of 8 from the line, missed and South's Cam Williams knocked down a pair with 12.9 seconds left to extend the lead. Each team had another pair from the line after that. Papio's Brett Dougherty made his first, missed his second on purpose and watched Lyle Hexom of South grab the rebound with two ticks left.
Hexom then missed both — the second on a lane violation — to give the Monarchs one more opportunity. But a long pass was snagged near the sideline by Hexom as the buzzer sounded.
“It was like pulling teeth through someone's ear,” Chubick said of his team's play down the stretch, which included nine turnovers in the final frame.
After hitting 20 of 21 free throws for a career-best 35 points in Saturday's win against Omaha Benson, Williams was 10 of 14 from the line for 14 points.
South junior James Dumes also finished with 14, all in the second half, in his return to action. Dumes had sat out the previous five games for disciplinary reasons, but provided a spark off the bench Tuesday. Three times in the second half he came up with steals and finished the fast break with a one-handed dunk. He made all six attempts from the floor and two of three free throws after halftime.
“He really stepped up and played well,” Chubick said. “He's a gamer.”
Maloley led Papio with 17 points. Spencer Lewis chipped in 11 and Dougherty added 10 for the Monarchs. Lewis had a clean look at what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer in the last 10 seconds, but came up empty. Dougherty missed his first seven shots from the floor, but led all players with 13 rebounds.
“We showed some resiliency and competed there,” Papio coach Jason Ryan said. “But at the end of the day, South's pressure defensively and offensively was the difference. When you play good teams like that, you get exposed a little bit.”
Papio's week doesn't get much easier. After a Friday night tilt with previously ranked Fremont, the Monarchs host top-ranked Omaha Central on Saturday.
Papillion-La Vista (13-3)...............................8 10 9 28 – 55
Omaha South (16-1)........................10 9 18 20 – 57
PLV: Ja'Pree Murray 1-6 0-0 3, Spencer Lewis 4-8 1-3 11, Keenan Neelon 1-2 1-2 3, Bryce Sheard 0-2 0-0 0, Matt Safranek 2-3 0-0, Nate Maloley 4-9 7-9 17, Tyler Dougherty 2-4 1-2 5, Brett Dougherty 2-9 6-12 10 Totals 16-43 16-28 55.
OS: Bobby Lage 1-3 0-0, Tyler Hall 0-2 1-2 1, James Dumes 6-7 2-3 14, Cam Williams 2-8 10-14 14, Buay Tuach 2-5 0-1 5, Arop Arop 2-3 1-2, Lyle Hexom 3-6 3-6 9, Kevin Harkins 2-2 2-2 6 Totals 18-36 19-30 57.
3-point goals: PLV 7-18 (Murray 1-3, Lewis 2-4, Sheard 0-1, Safranek 2-3, Maloley 2-7); OS 2-7 (Lage 1-2, Hall 0-1, Williams 0-1, Tuach 1-2, Hexom 0-1). Rebounds: PLV 31 (B. Dougherty 13), OS 31 (Hexom 8). Turnovers: PLV 20, OS 18. Field goal percentage: PLV .372, OS .500. Free throw percentage: PLV .571, OS .633. Total fouls: PLV 19, OS 23. Fouled out: Neelon, Tuach. Techncials: None. Att: 650 (est).
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