Millard West boys fall short at Districts

Wildcat basketball season ends with a tough road loss at Elkhorn


photo courtesy of Logan Foote

Senior Zach Olson celebrates a major late game three pointer. Olson has been a huge piece for the Wildcats, but he is ready to move on. “It’s sad leaving this team,” Olson said. “But I’m ready for the next step.”

Carson Fox, Staff Reporter

The Millard West basketball team played in a win or go home game at Elkhorn on Saturday, February 29th, 2020. If the Wildcats were able to win out, they would crack a Cinderella opportunity at State. If they lost to the 15-7 Antlers however, their season would be over.

It’s never easy playing away from home, especially since the 8-13 Wildcats came in with a 3-8 record playing in enemy territory this season. It has been a rough year for the team, but the players were hoping to make one last final push at the end of the season in hopes of making it to State.

The game was deadlocked during the first quarter. Neither team was able to get a bucket. It was the tone-setter for the defensive wave of the game. Elkhorn was able to establish their pace early, and neither team could get going. Millard West was able to make a few extra buckets and they carried a small 10-8 lead into the second quarter. 

“It was just a defensive battle,” junior Ryan Larsen said. “It felt like an elimination game the way neither team was giving a single inch to the other team. 

The second quarter went much the same way. Both teams missing shots and easy buckets, trying to crack the defensive trend of the game. Nobody could crack it. Any time a team would make a shot and attempt to put a run together, the other team would get a bucket. The Antlers were able to control it late in the half though, and they reclaimed the lead with 1:04 left in the half. They closed out defensively and held a 22-21 lead at half.

“You try not to give up little runs like that,” junior Dominic Humm said. “In a game like this it’s usually the first team that makes a run, wins. We just didn’t want to allow a big run.”

The young juniors were the offensive story for Millard West, combining for 32 of the 39 points for the Wildcats. Larsen and Humm would combine for 19 together, leading the focal point of the offensive attack

The offense stalled, however, in the third quarter. The Wildcats came out sluggish, missing shots and not rebounding. They were still stout defensively, and only gave up 10 points on that end. The bad news was the offense only put up seven points in the quarter. Millard West, despite an awful half, still just found themselves down four. 

The fourth quarter was the last hope for the Wildcats. They had to win this quarter by five to make it to the next round. They were able to put the offense together at some points, falling apart in others. The only consistency they were able to find was their defense. Millard West was able to get within one with the closing seconds. They got a stop, forced the ball upcourt, and senior Zach Olson took a last ditch heave at the buzzer. 

That buzzer signaled the end of the season for the Wildcats. 

“It’s always tough going out like that,” Olson said. “All the work we put in year round, it sucks for it to end like that.”


There’s a lot to be proud about with the Wildcats. They fought through loads of adversity this season, losing seniors Kaedyn Odermann to injury and Tristan Gomes opting not to play. They were inches away from many big upsets, and were overall able to grow as a team. They aren’t happy about the result either, but they gave all the effort they could to the game. It’s sadly another disappointing year for Millard West.

The future though, is extremely promising. Most of the leading scorers on the roster this year were juniors. They will all return next year, likely being the catalysts to a dream season. It’s been a few years since this team has been back into the state tournament picture, but hopefully the wait is not so far away. 

“I just hope next year we can really put it all together,” junior James Conway said. “We had some times this season where we felt like we could beat anybody. We just have to put it all together next year.”

Conway finished the game with seven points of his own, knocking down all three of his field goal attempts. He will have the ability to really show his true talents next season.

Had the Wildcats won the District, they likely would have faced one seed Bellevue West in the quarterfinals, a team that Millard West nearly defeated on the road just a couple weeks ago. Would they have won the State tournament? Probably not, but sadly these players won’t have the chance to shock the state. 

The feeling has to be sour for the players. The Cats have only had six winning seasons since the 2005-06 season. Millard West finished 8-14, and the state knows they’ll be back on a revenge tour next season.