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Ogallala ends Scotus boys postseason run in district final

February 27, 2019

The magical run that saw Scotus Central Catholic boys basketball win three straight postseason games and advance to an unlikely district final came to an end Monday evening in Kearney in a 79-61 loss to unbeaten Ogallala.

The Indians (26-0), ranked No. 2 in Class C-1 according to the latest Lincoln Journal Star Prep rankings, proved to have too much firepower for a Shamrock squad that had finally found its shooting touch after a 6-16 regular season.

Ogallala enjoyed leads of 12 points in the first quarter, 15 points in the second and 14 in the third. Nonetheless, Scotus wouldn’t go away, at least initially.

It was just a three-point separation at halftime before a 14-4 start to the second half established a double-digit lead the Indians held the rest of the way.

SCC ends the season at 9-17 while Ogallala advances to its second straight state tournament next weekend in Lincoln.

“It went about how I thought it would. I really thought we had to do some little things, like rebound and not turn it over, to be in the game at the end,” coach Tyler Swanson said. “We didn’t play quite well enough to push it to the end there, but we made it a game. We made it fun for everybody, and if we make a few more shots and don’t turn it over so much, I think it’s close in the end.”

Ball control was an issue throughout the contest. Scotus turned it over seven times before and after halftime. Fourteen total turnovers became 25 Ogallala points.

The Shamrocks also lost the rebounding battle, surrendering 10 offensive boards that became eight Indians points.

Cameron Raffaeli, a 6-foot-2 forward, was a major factor in that statistic. The Ogallala senior scored a game-high 20 points leading three other teammates that each had 10 or more.

Scotus seniors Caden Pelan and Grant Shanle led their side with 19 apiece.

“It was a three-point game at the half. That’s where we wanted to be. We wanted to put the pressure on those guys,” Swanson said. “They’ve been there before. They’ve had close games, even though they’re undefeated. We wanted to put that pressure on them and make them think in the back of their minds, we’re right there.”

Down 25-12 after one, Scotus cut it to a five-point game midway through the second with 10 straight points. Ogallala answered with back-to-back 3s and eight of nine pushing the difference back up to 12.

Scotus sophomore Josh Faust responded for the ’Rocks with two 3s off the bench sandwiched around a Pelan 3 all within the final 90 seconds of the half, and just like that, it was a 40-37 score at intermission.

Perhaps it was an unfortunate break for the Shamrocks. They had seized all the momentum, and for the first time in the game, had the Indians looking as if they were beginning to doubt their inevitability.

They refocused, scored 14 of the first 18 points of the third and, outside a Connor Wiehn 3 to open the fourth, held a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.

Pelan, Shanle, Bryce VunCannon and Tyler Wurtz all played in their final Scotus games.

“Even in January, and the last few games, we played hard every game. I think teams were afraid to play us. Our record wasn’t great, but our effort was always there. That’s a tribute to the seniors,” Swanson said. “We never gave up on the kids, they never gave up, and this is what we got - everybody was rewarded with a chance to play for the state tournament.”

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com