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Kapaun, Circle, Collegiate, El Dorado first-round winners at Bluestem Classic

Published Jan. 23 at 10:21 p.m. | Last updated Jan. 24 at 6:27 a.m.

EL DORADO – Kapaun Mount Carmel guard Thomas O’Connor was one of three Crusaders who could have taken some suspense out of their Bluestem Classic battle with Trinity Academy on Thursday.

But like Nick Auer before him and David Ewers seconds later, O’Connor missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free-throw attempt in the game’s final 31 seconds.

“We had three good opportunities to seal the game and we just couldn’t do it at the free-throw line,” O’Connor said. “We had to get stops at the other end.”

Kapaun got that accomplished, holding off Trinity 55-53 to advance to Friday’s semifinals against Circle. Collegiate and host El Dorado also won quarterfinal games.

O’Connor acknowledged some nervousness down the stretch. But without the 5-foot-11 junior’s 19 points and five three-pointers, Kapaun probably wouldn’t have escaped.

O’Connor’s biggest basket was a three from the top of the key with 1:50 remaining. It was the game’s final points.

“He stepped up,” said Kapaun coach John Cherne, whose team improved to 5-5. “Thomas played one of his better games of the year.”

Michael Lickteig added 13 points and Atir Cherne had 11 for Kapaun, which saw a 38-30 halftime lead evaporate as Trinity reeled off 15 unanswered points. Junior Alex Carro scored eight of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter for the Knights.

“Coach (Steve Miller) talked about how we attacked the whole third quarter, got some stops and we rebounded,” Carro said. “That helped, but then we struggled again attacking their press.”

Kapaun, which trailed 45-38 after Trinity’s run, scored eight points in the final two minutes of the third to regain the lead. But the Crusaders needed another rally after Trinity took a 53-50 lead on Carro’s drive with 3:47 remaining.

Brock Monty hit a baseline jumper to cut Kapaun’s deficit to one. Then after Trinity’s Austin Shanks missed two free throws, O’Connor gave the Crusaders the lead for good with his final three.

Trinity had three possessions down the stretch to tie or take the lead, but Jones and Carro missed three-point attempts, and Atir Cherne’s pressure forced Carro to commit a backcourt violation on the other possession.

“It’s just like any other tournament,” John Cherne said. “You’ve got to play to survive. This is going to be what sub-state is like – just find a way.”

Collegiate 60, Newton 53 – Austin Waddell broke a 50-all tie in the fourth quarter with six of his team-high 16 points to give Collegiate the lead for good. The Spartans needed such heroics to overcome a solid comeback by Newton.

“We played the first couple quarters like the team I know we’re going to be,” Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel said. “We’re not quite ready to be there for a whole game.”

Collegiate’s fullcourt pressure fueled a 24-2 first-half run that put the Spartans up 29-8 just over two minutes in to the second quarter. But Newton, which got 22 points from Sam Lehman and 14 from Tevin Berry, slowly chipped away at the deficit.

Newton took the lead twice in the fourth quarter, the final time at 45-44 with 5:27 remaining. But after Berry’s three-pointer tied the score at 50 at the 2:58 mark, Waddell put Collegiate ahead for good with a three-point play. After a Newton turnover, Collegiate got three shots on its next possession, with Waddell bouncing in a three-pointer that put the Spartans up 56-50.

“I wish I could Austin to play every quarter like the fourth quarter,” Fiegel said. “He’s a fourth-quarter guy, I guess. We’ve had some talks about it.”

Jack Larsen added 13 points, including three three-pointers, for Collegiate. Ten of the 11 Spartans who played scored points.

Circle 67, Great Bend 59 – Dylan Driver scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to help Circle pull away.

Justin Wright added 14 points for Circle (8-2), which used a 15-0 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to build a 53-40 lead.

Kody Crosby scored 18 points and Bryce Beck had 15 for Great Bend (1-8).

El Dorado 68, Campus 52 – Travis House made three three-pointers in the second quarter and finished with 17 points as the host Wildcats advanced.

Isaac Johnson scored nine of his 13 points in the first half for El Dorado, which led 39-13 at the break. Campus was led by Caleb Parker with 14 points and Travon Moore’s 12.

Circle 67, Great Bend 59

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Circle1714181867

GREAT BEND: Crosby 18, Beck 15, Sullivan 3, Reiser 9, Warren 6, Bryant 6, Westhoff 2.

CIRCLE: Kirkpatrick 8, Driver 19, Cannon 8, Richard 4, Fowler 6, Horyna 8, Wright 14.

Kapaun 55, Trinity 53

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Trinity 191115853

KAPAUN: Ewers 1 0-1 2, O’Connor 7 0-1 19, Auer 0 0-1 0, Monty 2 0-0 4, Cherne 4 1-2 11, Hickerson 1 0-0 2, Sheets 0 2-2 2, Lickteig 6 1-1 13, Patton 1 0-0 2.

TRINITY: Carro 10 0-1 20, Miller 1 1-2 3, Loon 0 0-0 0, Mosley 2 0-0 4, Jones 4 3-3 12, Johnson 0 3-4 3, Shanks 2 2-4 6, Burns 1 0-0 3, List 0 2-3 2.

Collegiate 60, Newton 53

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Collegiate1715101860

NEWTON: J. Kingsley 3, Berry 14, Downey 1, Robinson 4, R. Kingsley 5, Carlgren 4, Lehman 22.

COLLEGIATE: Chugg 2, Christian 6, Larsen 13, Root 4, Copher 4, Waddell 16, Dick 2, Adams 7, Moxley 3, Reed 3.

El Dorado 68, Campus 52

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El Dorado1722171268

CAMPUS: Nicks 5, Schutt 2, Moody 2, Leeper 2, Parker 14, Taylor 3, Moore 12, Chavez 6, Howard 4, Walker 2.

EL DORADO: Haines 5, House 17, A. Hildreth 8, Haury 9, Johnson 13, McAdoo 2, Cuskelly 4, Howland 2, Ladson 4, D. Hildreth 4.