Papillion-LaVista South scored more than three quarters of its points on either free throws or three-pointers Saturday to upset North Platte 60-57 in the district semifinals at the Dawg House."They were playing to their strengths," said NPHS coach Matt Kaminski of the Titans. "They made a lot of big shots tonight and they shot the ball well."
Neither team had much of a lead in the first three quarters of action. But after Michael Herrmann missed the second of two free throws early in the fourth, South (8-15) got the offensive rebound. That led to Brent Kirsch making a three to give the Titans a 44-37 lead.
Both teams battled but with 2:44 remaining, Shane Mauch got a three-point play to follow a trey by Kade Erickson to bring the Bulldogs to within 53-52.
On the ensuing possession, Aaron Rothermund drew the fifth foul on Drew Callaghan and made both free throws to put South up by three.
But then Erickson drained another three for the Bulldogs (16-7) to tie the game and both teams continued to go back and forth.
"We were down by seven points in the fourth quarter and I thought our kids made plays and fought back," Kaminski said. We showed a lot of heart and determination."
With 7.7 seconds left, Herrmann made what proved to be the game-winning free throws after a foul was called on Luke Wright after he went up for a shot inside to make it 58-57.
There was still enough time for the Dawgs to get a good look at a winning shot. Jack Kenny brought the ball up the court and drove to the hoop, where he was fouled by Herrmann with 2.8 seconds.
"Without (Kenny) we lose that game by double figures," said Kaminski of his senior point guard.
The foul was ruled not to be in the act of shooting, making the trip to the line a one-and-one. On the first shot, Kenny's attempt hit the front of the rim and bounced away. Herrmann got the rebound and was fouled with .7 seconds left.
Herrmann made both to make it a three-point game. Mauch's one-arm heave from 75-feet out fell short and fourth-seed Papillion-LaVista South completed the upset.
There is still a chance for North Platte to get into the state tournament if the six other number one seeds win their respective districts. But regardless, Kaminski said that he was proud of his team for all it accomplished.
"It's been a very positive season," he said. "We had a lot of highs. This is a good group of kids. They are unselfish and they played for each other. They had a good attitude and they worked hard."
Score by quarters
Papillion-LaVista South: 6-18-16-20 - 60
North Platte 10-15-12-20 - 57
Papillion LaVista South (60)-Brent Kirsch 8, Zach Gregerson 2, Aaron Rothermund 14, Nate Stoner 1, Michael Herrmann 14, Tyler Johnson 7, Isiah Martin 10
North Platte (57)-Shane Mauch 21, Kade Erickson 9, Jack Kenny 7, Drew Callaghan 12, Luke Wright 8
Free Throws: PLS 24-28, NP 7-11; Three Point Goals: PLS 8 (Rothermund 4, Kirsch 2, Martin 2), NP 7 (Erickson 3, Mauch 2, Kenny, Callaghan)