Raiders take Tigers to wire, but fail at state | Community

Alex Eller

LINCOLN — In a contest that went to the wire, the No. 7 D-1 Class boys’ basketball team failed to defeat the No. 2 Dundy County Stratton D-1 Class at the first round of the Class D-1 State Basketball Tournament at Lincoln North Star High School on March 7.

The game’s difference was razor thin and came down to a few shots the Raiders couldn’t convert.

“There was a potential five-point swing late in the third when we missed the transition and DCS went the length of the floor and converted a three-point play,” Mead head coach PJ said. Quinn. “We had some decent looks in the fourth, but we just couldn’t knock them down.”

Trailing 2-0 to start the match, Tyler Pickworth was able to knock down a jumper for Mead to tie the contest at 2-2. After four straight points by the Tigers, Pickworth and Frankie Hebenstreit made two straight buckets to tie the game at six.

Hebenstreit connected on another field goal late in the quarter that helped Mead take an 11-9 lead. The Raiders unfortunately failed to stop and the game was tied 11-11 going into the second.

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It was Pickworth who once again got the score for Mead with a bucket to start the quarter. A basket under from AJ Carritt stopped a DCS four-run run and cut the Raiders’ deficit to one at 16-15.

Mead took a 23-22 lead when Hebenstreit and AJ Carritt managed to score on back-to-back possessions. It didn’t last long, with Nolan Burrell for the Tigers connecting on a three that put DCS ahead 25-23 at halftime.

Coming out of the break, the Raiders attack was clicking on all cylinders. They were able to post their best result of the game with 16 points over the next eight minutes.

A big reason for the success was the play of AJ and Luke Carritt who scored six points in no time to start the quarter. Tye Dickes knocked down a bucket off the bench that gave Mead a 39-38 lead with a quarter to play.

During the fourth quarter, the Tigers stepped up the defensive intensity on the Raiders and only gave up five points to them.

With less than four minutes remaining, Mead was leading 42-40 when Quade Myers made a basket for DCS to tie the game. It helped the Tigers score four straight points and go up 46-42.

The Raiders came back to within two runs with a bucket from Luke Carritt, but in the end it wasn’t enough, with Nolan Burrell closing the game with two free throws for DCS.

Although he lost the contest, Quinn is very pleased with his team’s efforts. He knew he had a team that could compete at the state tournament level, despite all the injuries they had suffered.

“After winning a very competitive holiday tournament, we felt we had a team that could compete for the state championship,” Quinn said. “After losing two starters in mid-January, we lost games that we still hoped to win. This team could have easily given up at that point. Instead, they showed a lot of tenacity and conviction as we worked to figure out how to play with a different formation, and this group played their best basketball when it mattered.

AJ Carritt beat Mead with 13 points and Pickworth was also in double figures with 10 points. Hebenstreit scored nine points, Luke Carritt dropped eight points and Dickes finished with four points.

The Raiders finish the season with a 16-11 record overall. AJ Carritt, Pickworth and Collin Konecky are the seniors on this year’s team who have helped keep this group together through their struggles and lead them to declare themselves.

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