Wildcats defeat the Vikings

Millard West takes down Omaha North in a heated game


The Wildcats were down a man going into the game, and it forced them to adjust to changes. They started off slow, but once they got used to the adjustments, they were able to pick up speed. “Our biggest challenge was knowing that senior Evan Meyersick wasn’t going to play. We had to make sure guys knew our plays from different positions to fill in,” coach William Morrsion said.

Garrett Wilcoxen, Staff Reporter

On Saturday, Feb. 27, the Millard West Varsity Boys basketball team competed against the Omaha North Vikings. The Wildcats lost their previous game to Abraham Lincoln High School, and a win in this game would secure them a record of 16-6, along with bringing them to State.

The first quarter started off slowly with Omaha North winning the tip and taking their time bringing the ball up the court. The Vikings made several passes before attempting a shot, and ultimately got the ball blocked on their first drive by junior Chase Hultman. After an inbound by Hultman, the Wildcat power forward James Conway put up a reverse layup and missed the shot due to contact. Viking senior Curtis Ogba then proceeded to sprint with the ball down the court and draw a foul from the Wildcat defense. After a pass in, Ogba got the ball back and put up a floater for two points giving Omaha North the lead. Following this play, both teams missed a shot, and on the Wildcats’ next drive, senior shooting forward Dustin Hatch was able to get a board and put the ball up for two.

About halfway through the first quarter, senior shooting guard Ryan Larsen committed a foul. The Vikings were able to make a free throw, and Conway answered back with a wide open three. Almost one minute later, the Wildcats were able to capitalize once again on a Viking defensive error, and Hultman assisted Hatch for another three. This sparked something in the Viking offense and several Omaha North players started to pick up their pace. This led to a Viking bucket after the Wildcat defense couldn’t keep up with Omaha North junior Keshaun Williams. Directly after this play, both teams accumulated together three fouls and two violations, which gave both teams two points off of free throws. Rounding out the quarter, Viking junior Mason Strong was able to sink two free throws and the quarter ended with a score of 10-9 Wildcats.

“We started off with man defense and struggled to keep them out of the paint,” Hatch said. “We then decided to switch to a 3-2 zone in the first quarter to keep them from getting close shots. After this switch, they struggled against our defense, which allowed us to comfortably score without worrying about forced shots.”

The second quarter began with the Wildcats in possession of the ball. After several passes, Wildcat senior Dominic Humm was able to get an open three and completed on the opportunity. On the Vikings’ drive, they lost the ball, and Conway was able to get a crucial pass to Humm again for a difficult shot completed off the glass. Soon after, a timeout was taken by Omaha North.

Coming out of the timout, Ogba hit a deep three to lessen the Wildcat lead to three points. Following this play, Conway drove in for a reverse layup and got an AND1. This forced the Vikings to step up their offensive game, and Strong was able to knock down a heavily contested three point shot. On Millard West’s next drive, a miscommunication resulted in Strong stealing the ball, and he was able to make another bucket, bringing it to a one point game. Shortly after, Conway hit his second reverse layup of the quarter and his tenth point. Early in Omaha North’s next drive, there was a turnover and Conway went to the line after a shooting foul. He made both shots, ending the quarter with a score of 22-17, Wildcats lead.

“We went into the quarter with high intensity and we decided to play more physical,” junior Trace Thaden said. “We were struggling with getting fouls early on, so it felt good to know we had control over the ball and the score.”

The third quarter was off to a slow start until Larsen stole a pass and brought the ball up the court. This drive ended up at the line with Conway completing two shots from a foul by Williams. After a bricked corner three by Omaha North, Strong was able to get the board and put up a two point step back jumper. This was immediately followed by Hultman feeding Conway for a contested layup, and the Vikings capitalized on the next play getting Strong open for a wide open jumper. Millard West was then able to extend their lead even more with Conway scoring once again, and Thaden completing a jumper on the play after. Soon after Omaha North called a timeout, and even with Omaha North having the time to regroup, Millard West kept their momentum after the break. Larsen was able to hit a three, making the score 37-25 with the Wildcats on top ending the quarter.

“We tried to keep the pressure up after the second half, even though I was in foul trouble earlier on,” Larsen said. “We improved on picking our intensity on defense this quarter, and although we didn’t struggle with much, sometimes we mess up little things from time to time, which we could have fixed.” 

The fourth quarter began with the Wildcats taking the ball down the court with speed and agility. They were able to set a screen and Larsen hit a deep three that wasn’t counted due to an offensive foul. After a block in the paint by Conway, the Wildcats had full possession again, and after several Viking fouls, Larsen hit a three point shot to make it a 15-point game. This was answered seconds later with a three point shot by Williams assisted by sophomore T’Andre Perkins. On the Wildcats next drive, Williams got a steal and was able to get a wide open layup to lessen Omaha North’s deficit to ten. The Wildcats then started to improve on their passing decisions and found Larsen open for his second three point shot of the quarter.

After a Millard West timeout, Ogba brought the ball up the floor and missed a deep three. The shot was rebounded by Conway, and Larsen was able to drive for a layup. After three missed three point opportunities by the Vikings, the Wildcats got the ball back and started to run out the clock. With 2:40 left, Thaden drove for a layup, making it a 17-point game. At this point, Omaha North was only focused on taking threes and didn’t play team ball. Several players took deep threes to try and bring their team back, but none were completed. Finally, after a ball broke loose, the Vikings scored off a free throw and were immediately answered back by the Wildcats. As the last shots of the quarter were taken, the game ended with a score of 52-34 Wildcats on top.

“About midway through the fourth quarter, we went into a semi-delay game,” coach William Morrison said. “I told our guys that we really didn’t have to shoot any more. This is because we had a big enough lead that we could melt the clock away with being careful with the ball and making free throws.”

Since the Wildcats were able to win this game and clinch the win against Omaha Westside, they will be back in action for another tournament game on Tuesday, Mar. 9, against Pius X.