NORFOLK – O’Neill and Pierce squared off in the Mid-States semifinals on Friday night in a rematch of last year’s Mid-States finals.
O’Neill had the slight edge in the first half after shooting 59% from the field that helped them to a 28-20 lead at the break.
Despite the high shooting percentage for O’Neill, Pierce’s defense did not give up anything easy for the Eagles and also forced 7 first half turnovers.
That changed in the second half.
O’Neill came out firing in the third quarter and went on a 9-0 run to start and outscored the Bluejays 14-5. O’Neill went on to win 54-36 w/ junior Justin Appleby leading the way for the Eagles with 13 points. Pierce shot under 38% in the loss and were led in scoring by Brady Simmons with 13 points.
On the other side of the bracket, it was an instant classic between Wayne and Hartington Cedar Catholic.
Both teams exchanged baskets throughout the first quarter, with the score tied at 15-15 heading to the second. Hartington Cedar Catholic was able to lead by as much as 8 points in the second quarter before Wayne’s Jack Evetovich buried a 3-pointer before the buzzer to pull the Devils to within five at halftime.
Exchanging baskets was the trend throughout the 3rd quarter with another 3-pointer made at the buzzer, this time by Wayne’s Payten Gamble.
Later on in the fourth quarter, Wayne had a 57-56 lead with seconds remaining but Cedar Catholic’s Sean Kathol was sent to the free throw line after being fouled and was able to make one of his free throws to send the game into the first overtime.
Whatever one team did, the other matched. Moving on to the second overtime, with just 7 seconds remaining, senior Stephen Hillis (HCC) went 1-2 at the free throw line to give his team a three point lead. Wayne’s Tyler Gilliland had a shot to send it to a third overtime, but missed.
Hartington Cedar Catholic advances to the Mid-States finals and will take on O’Neill after a 77-74 victory in two overtimes.
The Trojans were lead by Riley Arens and Stephen Hillis, who each finished with 22 points in the win. Wayne’s Payten Gamble finished with a game-high 35 points and making seven, 3-pointers.