Published Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 11:22 pm
Eagles get back in the win column

Omaha Central did something Saturday night it hasn’t done in four years.

Snap a losing streak.

Coming off back-to-back losses to the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in Class A, the three-time defending state champion dominated Kearney with its size inside as No. 3 Central rolled to a 68-39 victory at Central High School.

“We just wanted to come out and play hard and compete at a high level,” Central coach Eric Behrens said. “I thought we did that. I was happy with the effort and glad to get the win.”

Omaha Central (16-4) had lost its previous two games to second-ranked Papillion-La Vista on Jan. 26 and top-ranked Omaha South 65-59 on Friday. Before the loss to Papillion, Central had won 51 straight games against Nebraska opponents. Central’s other losses this season came at the City of Palms Classic in Florida.

“You talk about walking into a hornet’s nest,” said Kearney coach Scott Steinbrook, whose team dropped to 11-9 on the season. “With them having lost two straight, it being Senior Night and them getting Tra-Deon (Hollins) back, it’s tough.”

Hollins, a three-year starter, had missed five straight games with a high ankle sprain. But the senior guard came off the bench in the first quarter and hit a layup and a 3-pointer as Central started to take control midway through the first quarter.

Kearney came out strong, hitting five of its first six attempts as senior Jake Weis scored 10 points in the game’s first 3:35. The Bearcats led 12-9 at that point, but the Eagles locked down defensively after that.

For the rest of the game, Kearney went 9 of 39 from the floor.

“They run a lot of good motion sets,” Behrens said. “Their guys are going to take a lot of jumpers and 3s. I thought we did a good job of contesting those and keeping them from getting second shots.”

Central scored 15 straight points after falling behind 12-9. And when Tre’Shawn Thurman and Deandre Hollins-Johnson hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Central stretched its lead to 34-16 with 5:15 left in the first half.

After its slow start, Central hit 13 of 14 shots from the field. The Eagles shot 67 percent in the first half as they led 42-23 at halftime, and 17 of their 27 field goals on the night came in the paint.

Central also finished with a 41-20 advantage on the boards. Kearney, which has three players taller than 6-foot and its tallest player listed at 6-3, was held to three offensive rebounds in the first three quarters and seven for the game. Central played six players who are 6-5 or taller.

“Behrens told us we need to pick up on our rebounding because that was a big reason we lost to Papillion and South,” said Central’s Kevin Scott, who had a game-high 10 rebounds to go with seven points and six steals.

“We had some textbook box-outs, but when you’re 5-9 and the other guy is 6-7, the taller guy usually is going to get it,” Steinbrook said. “But our guys competed like crazy.”

Nick Billingsley scored 12 in the first half and led Central with 14 points, while Thurman added 11 points and five rebounds.

Weis led Kearney with 16 points, and guard Damien Austen also finished in double figures with 13.

Central has another marquee matchup next weekend. After playing at Millard South on Thursday, the Eagles face Oak Hill Academy, Va., in Grand Island next Saturday.

Kearney (11-9) ................. 14 9 9 7—39

At Omaha Central (16-4) ................. 24 18 10 16—68

K: Ben Clark 1-3 3-4 5, Damien Austen 5-12 2-3 13, Jake Weis 6-11 0-1 16, Isaac Armstrong 0-1 0-0 0, Bryan Burchell 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Cervantes 0-4 0-0 0, Peyton Pocock 1-8 0-0 2, David Erickson 0-1 0-0 0, Dakota Schriner 1-1 1-1 3, Brady Johnson 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 14-45 6-9 39.

OC: Akoy Agau 2-4 1-1 5, Malik Harris 3-4 0-2 6, Christian Harmon 1-5 0-0 2, Kevin Scott 3-6 1-2 7, Tra-Deon Hollins 3-8 0-0 8, Deandre Hollins-Johnson 2-4 0-0 6, John Carter 0-1 1-2 1, Nick Billingsley 5-9 3-3 14, Jon Allee 0-0 2-2 2, LaTrell Jameson 1-1 0-0 2, Austin McGaugh 1-3 0-0 2, Reath Nyoach 1-1 0-0 2, Tre’Shawn Thurman 5-7 0-0 11, Jace Schwarz 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-54 8-12 68.

3-point goals: K 5-23 (Weis 4-8, Austen 1-4, Clark 0-1, Armstrong 0-1, Cervantes 0-4, Popock 0-5); OC 6-16 (Hollins-Johnson 2-3, Hollins 2-6, Thurman 1-2, Billingsley 1-2, Carter 0-1, Scott 0-1, Schwarz 0-1). Rebounds: K 20 (Schriner 5); OC 41 (Scott 10). Turnovers: K 16, OC 16. Total fouls: K 11, OC 12. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none.

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Contact the writer: Gene Schinzel    |   402-444-1038    |  

Gene Schinzel is a copy editor and staff writer for The World-Herald.

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