Then the Cardinals’ 1-3-1 zone defense and patient half-court offense added several more degrees of difficulty.
In a warm-up event before both teams play in Saturday’s Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, Penner scored his team’s final eight points to help Aurora hold on for a 43-39 victory Friday.
“We didn’t come out with the intensity we needed to, and give Crete credit, their 1-3-1 stifled what we wanted to do offensively,” said Penner, a 6-foot-5 Nebraska-Kearney signee who finished with a team-high 15 points. He was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the final 32.6 seconds.
“That’s the first 1-3-1 we’ve seen this year and they have good athletes playing it, but we need to come out ready to play every game, and we weren’t tonight,” Penner said.
Crete (15-7) took a quick 6-0 lead on a pair of three-pointers by Klay Uher, who had a game-high 17 points. It was all Aurora (18-2) the rest of the half, however, as Lukas Pohlmann came off the bench to score 10 points and lead the Huskies to a 25-14 halftime lead.
“Lukas has done that a couple times this season, giving us a spark offensively when we’ve needed it,” said Aurora coach Tom Leininger, whose team has won 13 straight games going into Saturday’s showdown with No. 4 Omaha Skutt, which has a nine-game win streak.
“He’s a lethal weapon from the corner, and that’s the shot you can get against the 1-3-1,” the coach added.
Crete’s offensive combination of Uher and Carter Kent (13 points) helped make things interesting at the end.
After a pair of baskets inside by Uher cut Aurora’s lead to 35-34 with 3:10 left, Crete had two possessions to take the lead. The Cardinals, however, came away empty after a turnover and a missed layup.
Penner then scored on a backdoor layup off an assist from South Dakota State recruit Baylor Scheierman to make it 37-34 with 1:08 remaining. A game-tying three by Crete was off the mark on its next possession before Penner hit two foul shots for a 39-34 advantage with 32.6 seconds showing.
An Uher three with 6.1 seconds remaining got Crete back within two, but Penner produced the final score with his final two foul shots with 5.2 seconds to play.
Crete coach Garrett Borcher said for the most part, the Cardinals executed their game plan to keep Aurora from its fast-tempo, transition game.
“I told our guys before the game that our best defense tonight might be our offense,” Borcher said. “In the second half, we were getting stops, our length was bothering them and we were being patient offensively. It just wasn’t enough to win it.”
While Aurora faces Skutt at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at the Heartland Event Center, Crete takes on Class B No. 3 Platteview in the final game of the eight-game slate at 9:15 p.m.
Both coaches were already peeking ahead to those clashes shortly after Friday’s game.
“We’ve got someone tomorrow (in Skutt) that might be more athletic than what we saw tonight and will put even more pressure on us on the perimeter,” Leininger said. “We will have to handle it better than we did tonight.”
Crete will face the challenge of defending 6-10 Nebraska recruit Brady Heiman, something Borcher said the Cardinals were looking forward to.
“The great thing about tonight is that we get another opportunity to go against a great team tomorrow,” Borcher said. “I know our kids were disappointed tonight, but they’ll bounce back and be ready tomorrow.”
Brooke Williams scored 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter and nailed the Huskies’ go-ahead three-pointer with 16 seconds left to produce the final score. Maya Nachtigal added 11 points for Aurora (14-8), which trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half.
A three-point play by Morgan Maly (21 points) put the Cardinals (12-10) in front 43-42 with 1:42 left, completing a comeback from a six-point fourth-quarter deficit. Camry Moore chipped in 14 points for Crete.
Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or [email protected] On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.
The No. 6 Fremont girls basketball team went for the knockout punch in the second quarter, but No. 8 Lincoln Pius X countered with constant pr…
Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.
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AURORA — Lukas Pohlmann embraces his role off the bench for Class B No. 1-rated Aurora.
“I want to bring a spark, whether that’s a big shot, getting some turnovers or locking somebody up on ‘D,’ whatever I can do,” said the 6-foot-1 senior guard.
With the Huskies struggling to find offense early on, Pohlmann scored 10 unanswered points to give his team the lead for good early in the second quarter.
Henry Penner then went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final 33.6 seconds to lock down a 43-39 victory.
“I owe it all to my teammates,” said Pohlmann, who finished with 12 points. “They got me the ball when I was open and I just knocked them down. I’ve been blessed.”
Aurora (18-2) trailed 8-3 when Pohlmann scorched the Cardinals (15-7) for his 10 points in a row.
Aurora only attempted four shots in a methodical first quarter. The Huskies patiently worked the ball around the perimeter against Crete’s zone, while the Cardinals held the ball near mid-court on their first possession until Aurora extended its defense.
“I didn’t think they’d hold it out front right at the beginning,” Aurora coach Tom Leininger said. “We like high tempo. They took us out of that for the most part. We did get some as the game went on but early especially they really slowed us up.”
Aurora finished 13-for-29 (44.8 percent) from the floor, and Leininger said Crete’s zone defense deserves the credit for the type of night the Huskies had offensively.
“That’s the first time we’ve played a 1-3-1 all year, and anytime you’re different, it’s tougher,” Leininger said. “It takes some adjustments.
“They’re so long and athletic up top that we had a hard time executing what we wanted to do. We had a lot of different looks against them, and a lot of them didn’t work.”
“He’s done that a couple times for us,” Leininger said. “He did that in the semifinals of the conference tournament, too — he hit back-to-back-to-back threes. He’s kind of a lethal weapon from that corner, and he’s stepped up when we’ve needed him. We were struggling.”
Crete trailed 25-14 at the half but battled back to within one point in the fourth quarter.
But Baylor Scheirman hit Penner cutting down the lane, and he was able to lay the ball up and over the front of the rim to give the Huskies a 37-34 lead with 1:06 remaining.
Penner, who had a team-high 15 points, then cashed in at the free-throw line on three 1-and-1 situations. After Penner missed Aurora’s first free throw of the game on a possible 4-point play, the Huskies went 11-for-11 from the line.
Aurora quickly turns around and faces No. 2 Omaha Skutt Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the Heartland Hoops Classic.
“We’re pretty confident but it’ll be tough,” Pohlmann said. “They’re a good team, they’re really quick and it’ll be a challenge. We’re honored to be able to play in that.”
Carter Kent 5-13 2-3 13, Carson Deisley 0-5 3-3 3, Janah Weyand 0-1 2-2 2, Klay Uher 7-13 0-0 17, Ethan Mach 2-6 0-0 4, Zach Fye 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-39 7-8 39.
Cade Reichardt 0-4 2-2 2, Jayden Herzberg 1-1 0-0 2, Ian Boerkircher 1-1 1-1 3, Baylor Scheierman 3-8 0-0 9, Henry Penner 4-8 6-7 15, Lukas Pohlmann 4-7 2-2 12, Cade Schuster 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Stevenson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-29 11-12 43.
3-point field goals—Crete 4-14 (Kent 1-6, Deisley 0-2, Uher 3-4, Mach 0-2), Aurora 6-18 (Reichardt 0-4, Scheierman 3-5, Penner 1-4, Pohlmann 2-5). Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Crete 18 (Mach 5), Aurora 23 (Scheierman 7). Assists—Crete 3 (Weyand 2), Aurora 7 (Herzberg 5). Turnovers—Crete 10, Aurora 17. Total fouls—Crete 12, Aurora 7. Technicals—none.
Brooke Williams wasn’t going to let her classmates walk off of Aurora’s court after their final home game with a loss.
The senior guard sank a 3-pointer from the right side with 17 seconds left to lift the Huskies past Crete 45-43 Friday night.
That came after Crete took a 43-42 lead with 1:42 to go on a 3-point play by Morgan Maly.
“I just know that my teammates worked to get me open and to get the shot up,” said Williams, who finished with 19 points. “They helped me get there.”
Kennedy Krejdl rebounded a missed Aurora free throw, and the Huskies set things up for a go-ahead shot during a timeout with 1:08 to go.
“I thought they were going to be in man and they went to zone, which is fine because that play actually works both ways against man or zone,” Aurora coach Phil Thramer said. “We worked the basketball around a little bit. I was a little timid about calling that set. I was going to call timeout after they came out in their 1-3-1, but I figured that set with the down-screen concept would work.
“It was our best shooter in the corner, and she had a big game tonight.”
But it was a rough start for Williams and the Huskies. She missed her first seven shots, and Aurora trailed 24-19 at the half.
Williams heated up in the second half and sank 7 out of her final 10 attempts.
“I knew at halftime that someone had to step up and shoot the ball,” she said. “I just thought that I had confidence going into the second half.”
“She leads our team in field-goal attempts from the 2-point line and the 3-point line because that’s the type of player she is,” he said. “Some night she might have four or six (points). Other nights she’ll have 19.
“Therefore we’re going to let her take her shots as they come. She very rarely takes bad shots.”
Maya Nachtigal added 12 points off the bench for the Huskies, who won their last two games of the regular season by a combined five points.
“We’ve been in a lot of four-quarter battles through the course of the year,” Thramer said. “Earlier in the year, some of them didn’t quite go our way. We played hard for four quarters in those prior games and didn’t quite come out on top.
“But our last two match-ups — against Northwest and again tonight — were tight throughout the course of the ball game. We were fighting, we were clawing back after some runs in the first half that we gave up to go down by four or five.”
Maly finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Crete. But she was limited to five points after halftime while battling foul trouble.
Hannah Newton 1-5 0-2 2, Jayda Weyand 0-1 0-1 0, Ellie Allen 3-8 0-2 6, Morgan Maly 7-13 6-6 21, Camry Moore 5-10 2-4 14, Lexi Mach 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 16-39 8-15 43.
Bailey Collingham 0-3 0-0 0, Tanner Ohlson 1-6 0-0 2, Corrie Schneider 1-5 4-6 6, Brooke Williams 7-17 3-5 19, Kennedy Krejdl 1-3 1-2 4, Maya Nachtigal 5-8 1-3 12, Megan Snyder 1-4 0-0 2, Jacalyn Kliewer 0-0 0-2 0, Jaelyn McDonald 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-47 9-18 45.
3-point field goals—Crete 3-9 (Newton 0-4, Maly 1-2, Moore 2-3), Aurora 4-13 (Collingham 0-2, Ohlson 0-3, Williams 2-5, Krejdl 1-1, Nachtigal 1-1, Snyder 0-1). Fouled out—Maly. Rebounds—Crete 31 (Maly 10), Aurora 32 (Schneider 10). Assists—Crete 4, Aurora 9 (Ohlson 4). Turnovers—Crete 12, Aurora 6. Total fouls—Crete 15, Aurora 14. Technicals—none.
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