Free throw accuracy and 27 points from behind the arc gave Papillion-LaVista South the edge as they overcame a late North Platte lead to advance in A-6 District action. Two Michael Herrmann free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining erased a 57-56 North Platte lead. Herrmann added two additional throws from the charity line with .7 left for a 60-57 Titans win.
“That was a game of high emotion for me,” Titans coach Joel Hueser said. “Just because we were going against the best player I ever coached, Matt Kaminski. I’m so proud of him and what he is doing here at North Platte. So my hats off to him — he’s doing a great job.”
Hueser coached Kaminski from 1991-93 in McCook.
Herrmann led the Titans with 19 points on two field goals, one from behind the arc and was 14-of-18 from the line. South ended the game 21-of-27 from the charity line while the Bulldogs were seven-of-12.
“He’s a strong kid,” Hueser said of Herrmann. “We knew we wanted to establish the paint and I thought the kids really did a good job of getting him some early looks by screening deep into the paint.
“Then he did a nice job of using some shot fakes, trying to take it up through their nostrils. We were fortunate to have Callaghan foul out as well, because he’s a great player.”
The Titans (8-15) carried a 41-37 lead into the fourth quarter. Eight 3s would be made in the final eight minutes, three by South and five coming from the Bulldogs. Papio’s Brent Kirsch and Aaron Rothermund sandwiched 3s around one from the Bulldogs Shane Mauch to lead 47-40 with 6:14 left in the game.
North Platte’s Kade Erickson, held without a point until the fourth, took a Jack Kenny assist and nailed a 3 from the left corner to get within five at 48-43. South’s Herrmann hit a 3 from the top of the key and Kenny answered 15 seconds later with a 3 of his own.
After Papio’s Tyler Johnson scored in the paint to give his team a 53-46 lead, Erickson hit his second 3 of the quarter and Mauch brought down the house as he scored on a break, was fouled and hit the free throw to bring the Bulldogs within one at 53-52.
Mauch, a sophomore, ended with a game-high 21 points on six-of-eight shooting. Three were from 3-point territory and he was six-of-seven from the line.
“Shane, from the get-go, came off the bench with an offensive mindset and made an impact for us right away,” said North Platte coach Matt Kaminski. “He really got in a rhythm and was a huge impact in the game.”
But just 14 seconds later, North Platte’s 6-7 Drew Callaghan picked up his fifth foul and Rothermund made both charity tosses to stretch the lead to three. Callaghan’s fifth foul would prove costly for the Bulldogs.
Erickson tied the game seconds later as Kenny found him open from behind the arc for a 55-55 score at the 2:12 mark.
North Platte (16-7) got the ball back with a little less than two minutes to go, but a missed 1-and-1 attempt gave the ball back to the Titans.
With 1:05 remaining, Herrmann made one of his two free throws, giving the Titans the lead, but Mauch gave the 57-56 lead back to the Bulldogs on two free throws with 38.4 left.
After a South timeout, the Titans worked the clock down and with 7.7 seconds to go Herrmann was fouled and scored the two go-ahead free throws. But North Platte still had a glimmer of hope.
Kenny received the inbounds pass, maneuvered down the floor and was fouled going to the basket and was awarded a 1-and-1. With 2.8 on the clock, Kenny’s free throw landed firmly on the back of the rim and fell off. Herrmann was fouled on the rebound and hit two free throws for the final score.
“I think all day Jack played a super game,” Kaminski said. “He had some incredible assists, really attacked the basket well and it was the same situation at the end there.
“We wanted him to push it out, attack in transition and he got that and did what he could to put us in the position to win.”
South was able to control the offensive boards in the final two and a half minutes without the presence of Callaghan.
“In a situation like that we need him in there,” Kaminski said. “His presence, obviously, makes us a better team.
“It’s unfortunate he fouled out but we’ve been in that situation before where he was in foul trouble and needed kids to step up and make plays. We did that down the stretch tonight.”
Both teams started slowly, with the Bulldogs holding a 10-6 advantage at the end of one.
“A little jitters,” Hueser said of the opening quarter. “For us, some of our kids haven’t traveled more than two hours in a vehicle their whole life. Maybe a little bit of that and I’m sure the kids here at North Platte were feeling a little pressure as well since they were the No. 1 seed.
“It was a tough environment [in a packed house] and I guess that’s what makes the high school environment fun. Both teams played through it. If I was a spectator as a neutral party, it was a pretty good basketball game to watch.”
The scoring picked up in quarter two with the Bulldogs carrying a slim 25-24 lead into half. A 3 from the corner at the buzzer by Isiah Martin gave the Titans the momentum heading to the locker room.
Rothermund hit two of his four 3s for the game in the third quarter giving the Titans a 40-37 advantage heading into the decisive fourth. The Titans finished with nine 3s while the Bulldogs had eight.
“He’s had some games where he shot it well,” Hueser said of Rothermund. “Earlier against Fremont I think he made eight or nine 3s. He’s very capable of that.
“You live or die a little bit by that 3, yet how many big shots did [North Platte] have in the fourth quarter to get back in it. So that 3-point line is an equalizer, that’s for sure. We were able to get our share of them.”
“Two really good teams were going at it and when they shoot the ball that well they’re a pretty good team,” Kaminski said. “I think they’re pretty pleased with the way they shot it from the line and the 3-point line.
“We contested it well but they made a lot of tough shots. Both teams made a lot of tough plays but we just didn’t make enough.”
Papillion-LV South (8-15)..............................6 18 16 19 — 60
North Platte (16-7).......................................10 15 12 20 — 57
P: (2 pt, 3 pt, ft, pts) Brent Kirsch 0, 2, 2/3, 8; Zachary Gregerson 1, 0, 0/0, 2; Aaron Rothermund 0, 4, 2/2, 14; Michael Herrmann 1, 1, 14/18, 19; Tyler Johnson 2, 0, 3/4, 7; Isiah Martin 2, 2, 0/0, 10.
NP: Shane Mauch 3, 3, 6/7, 21; Kade Erickson 0, 3, 0/0, 9; Jack Kenny 2, 1, 0/2, 7; Drew Callaghan 4, 1, 1/2, 12; Luke Wright 4, 0, 0/1, 8.