LINCOLN — It took Omaha South a while, but the second-ranked Packers finally managed to pull away from unranked North Platte on Thursday at the Class A boys state basketball tournament.
Senior forward Lyle Hexom scored 20 points to lead South to a 52-36 win over the Bulldogs at the Devaney Center. The 24-3 Packers advance to a 10:45 a.m. semifinal Friday while North Platte finishes the season 16-8.
South won despite playing without junior guard James Dumes, who was sidelined because of an undisclosed disciplinary issue. Packers coach Bruce Chubick didn’t rule out Dumes’ return Friday.
“He could be back,” the coach said. “He’ll play again when I think it’s time.”
South led most of the way but was unable to open up much daylight against the Bulldogs, who were making their first state tourney appearance since 2004. The Packers led 22-14 at halftime and 32-25 after three quarters before turning up the intensity a notch in the fourth.
Hexom, who had two dunks late in the third quarter, kept the Packers rolling in the fourth quarter with a putback. A layup by Cam Williams extended South’s lead to 11, and that advantage stayed in double digits most of the way from there.
Hexom scored eight points in the final period and the Packers widened their lead. Bobby Lage finished with 13 and Williams added 12 for South, which lost to Omaha Central in last year’s state final.
“Just advance, that’s the name of the game,” Chubick said. “Give credit to North Platte for keeping that game so close.”
Bulldogs coach Matt Kaminski said his team simply needed to make more shots against the second-seeded Packers.
“We hung around, but we couldn’t get any shots to fall,” he said. “We were 1 for 17 from 3-point range, and that isn’t going to get it done at state.”
The Bulldogs reached state as a wild card after losing at home to Papillion-La Vista South in a district semifinal. They went 0-4 against Metro Conference competition, including Thursday’s loss.
“As far as our effort, I couldn’t be happier,” Kaminski said. “It was a bad shooting day for us, but I couldn’t be prouder of my team.”
Drew Callaghan led North Platte with 15 points and nine rebounds.
North Platte............................10 4 11 11 — 36
Omaha South...........................11 11 10 20 — 52
NP: Shane Mauch 7, Jack Kenny 5, Drew Callaghan 15, Luke Wright 9.
OS: Bobby Lage 13, Tyler Hall 2, Cam Williams 12, Lyle Hexom 20, Arop Arop 1, Kevin Harkins 2, Arop Makoor 2.
Officials: Kurt Hinrichs, Joe Wells, Kevin Koch.
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>> Video: Omaha South-North Platte game highlights: