In any other year the Gretna boys’ basketball team would be considered one of the best team in Class B. Gretna has had an incredible season amazing an 11-1 record with many wins over ranked opponents. Unfortunately, for Gretna, the Dragons are no longer in Class B with Gretna making the jump to Class A for the 2018-2019 season. Despite the challenges and Gretna was flying high coming into the Eastern Midlands Conference having just moved into the Class A rankings at No.10 and capturing the No.1 seed for the tournament. With the recognition finally coming their way Gretna looked to continue their 7-game win streak with a Conference Title.
The Dragons got their EMC tournament journey started on Thursday, January 24th as they played host to Nebraska City.
Gretna dominated the game early jumping out to a 28-4 first quarter lead before going up 42-13 at the break. In the second half the Pioneers tried to stage a comeback, but the Dragons held strong to win the game 59-43.
Gretna was led by Colby Scholl with 15 points. Hershal Vusich added 9 points, Clay Frost, Ely Doble, and Landon Graber each had 5 points, Max Tegels and Chris Atkinson both had 4 points, Zach Weise and Mason Graber both had 3 points, and Blake Podany, Tre’ Mikkelson, and Trevor Marshall each had 2 points.
With the win under their belts Gretna got back to work on Friday, January 25th as they played host to the Titans of Norris in the EMC Semifinals. The Titans came into the with a deceptive 5-9 record. After going 0-8 in the month of December Norris found their footing at the start of the new year. The Titans had won 3 of their last 4 and owned a home win over co-semifinals Waverly, and a road win over then No.2 rated York.
Norris came into the game with a plan to slow things down. This seemed to work as Gretna struggled to get into a scoring rhythm trailing 12-7 after the first quarter. The Titans kept thing slow in the second quarter as they continued to frustrate Gretna. Norris held the ball for nearly the final minute of the half before missing a shot in the closing second to take a 19-12 lead into the break.
During the half Gretna changed their attack and turned up their defensive pressure. This paid off as they forced several Norris turnovers right out of the gate.
Gretna was led by Tre’ Mikkelson with 9 points. Zach Weise added 6 points, Clay Frost had 5 points, Ely Doble had 4 points, and Trevor Marshall had 3 points. However, neither team was able to score until Gretna’s Tre Mikkelsen made a steal and hoop to cut the deficit to 19-14 at the 5:13 mark. The Dragon’s Zach Wiese then grabbed an offensive rebound and made a putback to close the deficit to 19-16 with 5:13 left in the third quarter. Norris broke their 4:22 scoring drought with a basket by Skyler Schwaninger at the 3:38 mark before Gretna answered with a three-pointer 18 seconds later to get within 21-19. Connor Price quickly answered for the Titans before Ely Doble score the last points of the quarter for Gretna to make it 23-21 at the 2:36 mark.
Having pulled within just 2 going into the fourth Gretna tried to complete the comeback only to see Norris change up their attack. Gretna head coach Brad Feeken said of the change, “I thought they were very very physical with us.” This aggressive attack by the Titans paid off as they opened the fourth on a 10-0 run to go back up 33-21 with 3:48 left in the game. Gretna got a 3-pointer from Mikkelsen and a hoop from Clay Frost to make it 35-27 with 3:08 left but each time Schwaninger had an answer for the Titans to keep their lead at double-digits and the Titans ended the game on an 8-0 run.
After the rough performance Gretna head coach Brad Feeken said of the game, “This is a good learning opportunity for us. We didn’t shoot well, but I’m not making that excuse. They took away a lot of things we wanted to do and my job, my coaching staff, and our players’ is to put us in a better position. This is disappointing, but we have good kids and I know they will respond in the gym on Monday.”
Gretna is now 12-2 on the year.
Thursday, January 24
Neb. City 4 9 18 12 – 43
#10 Gretna 28 14 12 5 – 59
Friday, January 25
Norris 12 7 4 20 – 43
#10 Gretna 7 5 9 6 – 27