LINCOLN – Following back-to-back state championship titles in 2017 and 2018, the Ponca boys basketball team is coming off a third place finish a year ago and began their quest of a state title Thursday late afternoon.
From Lincoln Southeast High School, #5 Ponca looked to avenge a loss in last year’s tourney taking on #4 Yutan. The Chieftains defeated the Indians in the C2 semis a year ago, 46-42. Earlier in the afternoon, #1 Grand Island Central Catholic defeated #8 Palmyra, 41-38.
After both teams hit three-point shots with less than a second in regulation the game went into the first OT and then another before Yutan hit their foul shots to win 63-56 in double overtime. Yutan improves to 23-3 while Ponca ends their season at 23-5.
In the first quarter, the Chieftains took the early lead of 17-13 before Ponca cut into the deficit with an 11-8 second. At the break, Yutan led 25-24. Ponca then took the lead into the final quarter thanks to a 10-6 third before Yutan answered with an 18-15.
Ponca hit a three-point shot to take the go-ahead lead and with .6 seconds put back on the clock, Yutan followed suit to send the game into OT tied at 49 all. Both teams then scored three points in the first OT before the Chieftains outscored the Indians 11-4 in the second OT to again win 63-56 in double overtime.
Ponca was led by Brandon Kneifl who scored 18 points, followed by Cayden Phillips with 13 points as Carter Kingsbury was held to 10 points (6-8 FT). Other scoring leaders for the Indians came from Paul Masin with seven points, Bryar Bennett added six points and Aden Anderson scored two points.
The Indians shot 11-14 from the foul line.
Three Yutan players poured in double figure scoring led by Trey Knudsen with 20 points, Will Hays added 19 points (15-20 FT) and Colby Tichota tallied 13 points.
Yutan finished 21-29 from the charity stripe.
The Class C2 semifinal will open at 7 p.m. from the Bob Devaney Sports Center between #1 Grand Island Central Catholic vs. #4 Yutan Friday. The other half of the bracket was in action Thursday evening between #2 BRLD vs. #7 Doniphan/Trumbull at 7 p.m. followed by #3 Sutton vs. #6 Centennial at 8:45 p.m.