Published Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:01 am / Updated at 1:16 am
Short-handed Crusaders down Aquinas, 47-41

Short-handed Grand Island Central Catholic didn’t let the absence of two key players spoil a winning week.

Playing without 6-foot-4 junior center Youhanna Ghaifan (knee) and 6-1 junior forward Brett Wiens (concussion), the Class C-1, No. 8-rated (Omaha World-Herald) Crusaders shook off a slow start and beat Aquinas Catholic 51-38 on Friday night.

“We were a couple men down tonight, but I thought our kids played hard and did the things they needed to do on the boards,” said Central Catholic coach Tino Martinez, whose team knocked off previously unbeaten York 50-44 on the road last Tuesday night. “We got hurt a couple of times because we weren’t playing with a lot of size at any given time, but we definitely feel good about coming out with a win in a situation like that.

“Our kids fight hard. They compete in practice like crazy every day and it’s definitely no different on game night.”

Phoenix Stevenson led the way for GICC (10-4), pacing his team in points (19), rebounds (six) and assists (five). The 5-10 senior had 11 second-half points recorded five of the Crusaders’ eight offensive rebounds.

“Tonight might have been the first time in the last 2 1/2 years where Phoenix hasn’t drawn the toughest defenisve assignment that we hand out,” Martinez said. “He’s a tremendous defensive player and he always commits to being good on the boards, but tonight he was able to get his offensive game going a little bit. He’s fully capable of scoring some points for us.”

Eli Hunter added 15 points and John Rohweder scored 14 for the Crusaders, who led 27-26 before outscoring Aquinas 11-2 in the final 4:48 of the third quarter.

“Eli could really lead us in scoring, but he’s such an unselfish player that we have to really get on him to look for some of his own opportunities,” Martinez said. “I think he probably realized tonight that being a few men down, we needed his offensive output a little bit.

“Plus, I think they were trying to take Rohweder away on the perimeter and that kind of opened things up and Phoenix and Eli were both very aggressive-minded, offensively, tonight.”

Not to be overlooked was the early sharp-shooting of Rohweder. With GICC trailing 6-2 early, the 6-2 junior hit three 3-pointers to help the Crusaders lead 15-10 after the first quarter.

“Johnny really stretches the floor,” Martinez said. “He did a good job of stepping into his shots and getting his rhythm and kind of shooting us into a lead.

“At that point, I thought we were able to settle in, defensively, and take some things away that Aquinas was hurting us with early as far as some drives to the basket and kick-outs, offensive rebounds, transition baskets and things of that nature.”

The Crusaders prevailed, despite being outrebounded 28-24.

“Central Catholic is a little bit different of a team without Youhanna, but they did a nice job of getting some kids to step up,” Aquinas coach Tony Smith said. “They were more of a perimeter-oriented team tonight whereas we were really prepared to double down and spent some time in practice doing that versus working on a lot of their perimeter stuff.”

Ryan Vavrina scored 13 points and Nathan Kovar had 11 to lead the Monarchs (3-10). Aquinas leading scorer Trev Semrad was limited to nine points on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor.

“It was typical Grand Island Central Catholic good defense,” Smith said. “They kind of dictated what we were going to do on offense rather than us dictating what we wanted to do.

“They did a good job of playing Trev Semrad hard and we had some other guys step up, but again, (GICC) knows how to play man-to-man defense and they do it well over and over again.”

Martinez said the Crusaders hope to regain the services of Wiens soon. However, the timetable for Ghaifan’s return is uncertain.

“We’re obviously hoping to get him back as soon as possible, but it’d difficult to say,” Martinez said of Ghaifan. “It’s just going to depend on the swelling and the soreness of it. Hopefully, the treatment will run its course and he’ll be back sooner rather than later.”

AQUINAS CATHOLIC (3-10): Vavrina 5-8 1-2 13, Semrad 3-10 2-2 9, Kobza 0-5 1-4 1, Kovar 5-9 0-0 11, Smith 0-3 1-2 1, Jakub 1-1 1-2 3, Ketteler 0-1 0-0 0, Pelan 0-0 0-0 0, Emswiler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-37 6-12 38.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC (10-4): Stevenson 9-14 1-2 19, Brokaw 1-5 0-0 2, Rohweder 4-8 3-4 14, Hunter 5-12 5-7 15, Allen 0-3 0-0 0, Heidelk 0-1 1-2 1, Pfeifer 0-0 0-0 0, Beck 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 10-15 51.

Aquinas Catholic .......................... 10 9 9 10—38
Central Catholic ............................ 15 10 13 13—51

3-point goals—Aquinas 4-14 (Vavrina 2-5, Semrad 1-6, Koba 0-2, Kovar 1-1), GICC 3-7 (Rohweder 3-6, Allen 0-1). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Aquinas 28 (Kovar 9), GICC 24 (Stevenson 6). Assists—Aquinas 8 (Semrad 5), GICC 12 (Stevenson 5). Turnovers—Aquinas 13, GICC 6. Total fouls—Aquinas 15, GICC 11. Technicals—None. A—NA.


Grand Island Central Catholic overcame a 23-19 halftime deficit and recorded a 47-41 home-court victory over Aquinas Catholic Friday night.

The Crusaders (5-9) outscored the Monarchs (5-8) by a 19-9 margin in the pivotal third quarter, hitting 9-of-16 shots from the field. Emily Herbek led the rally, scoring 10 of her game-high 14 points in the quarter.

Herbek finished with a game-high 14 points and seven rebounds for the Crusaders (5-9). Teammate Emma Benton added 13 points and nine rebounds.

GICC shot 54.5 percent (12-of-22) after the intermission and had a 37-28 rebounding edge as Benton (seven) and Herbek (four) combined for 11 of their team’s 14 offensive rebounds.

“The difference was Emily Herbek and Emma Benton,” GICC coach James Lowry said. “I thought they went to the boards hard, I thought they posted up hard and I don’t think we got those two the ball enough.

“We talked about running the floor hard and I thought both of them ran harder than the other team tonight. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of coming out with an attitude and outworking somebody and I was really, really proud of those two girls tonight.”

Elyssa Kohmetscher finished with 11 points for the Crusaders, who commited just three second-half turnovers after having 10 miscues in the first half.

“Elyssa Kohmetscher and Laura (Lowry) handled the ball pretty well and weren’t careless with it,” James Lowry said. “That’s really important for our team because we have to get shots almost every trip down the floor.

“Our girls did a good job of seeing where we could attack and getting the ball inside with Emily and Emma. We weren’t as equal-opportunity scoring-wise as we have been much of this season, but we played smarter on offense.”

Kinsey Kozisek scored 11 points and Julie Daro had 10 to lead Aquinas (5-8). The Monarchs were held to 20-percent shooting (5-of-25) in the second half.

AQUINAS CATHOLIC (5-8): Vandenberg 1-4 2-2 5, Daro 4-6 2-2 0-2 10, Kozisek 2-11 7-8 11, Vavrina 0-8 1-2 1, Beringer 2-6 0-0 6, Hilfiker 1-4 1-1 3, Eller 2-4 0-0 5, Krafka 0-2 0-0 0, Pokorny 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 12-45 13-16 41.

CENTRAL CATHOLIC (5-9): Herbek 7-11 0-4 14, Flaherty 1-6 0-0 2, Kohmetscher 3-5 5-9 11, Moravec 0-4 0-0 0, Benton 6-12 1-2 13, Lowry 3-7 1-2 7, Anspauch 0-2 0-0 0, Seiler 0-0 0-0 0, Goering 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-47 7-17 47.

Aquinas Catholic ..................... 14 9 7 11—41
Central Catholic ....................... 10 9 19 9—47
3-point goals—Aquinas 4-11 (Vandenberg 1-1, Daro 0-2, Kozisek 0-1, Vavrina 0-2, Beringer 2-2, Eller 1-3), GICC 0-3 (Flaherty 0-2, Kohmetscher 0-1). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Aquinas 28 (Hilfiker 7), GICC 37 (Benton 9). Assists—Aquinas 6 (Beringer 4), GICC 6 (Flaherty 2). Turnovers—Aquinas 8, GICC 13. Total fouls—Aquinas 15, GICC 16. Technicals—None. A—NA.

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