By Tommy Rezac
LINCOLN – It all seemed to be coming together for Milford.
The Eagles (21-6), who led No. 1 Ogallala 19-7 after the first quarter, built on that momentum throughout the game, and led 43-36 entering the final period at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
The Indians (27-0) came all the way back, and a two-point basket by junior Clayton Murphy with 29.8 seconds left was enough to lift Ogallala to a 55-54 win over Milford in the Class C1 quarterfinals at the boys’ state basketball tournament Thursday.
The Eagles had time for a potential game-winning shot, but with about four seconds left, Murphy swiped the ball away from Milford’s Grant Jakub to all but seal a victory.
Murphy got fouled by Jacob with 2.2 seconds left, and Murphy missed the front end of a one-and-one. Milford senior Nathan Mensik, who scored a game-high 27 points, heaved a shot from mid-court at the buzzer, but it fell well short.
Mensik, who led Milford this year with 14.4 points per game, went down with injury with about three minutes left in the game, and didn’t return until about 1:30 remaining.
Mensik came back in, and almost immediately hit a layup to give Milford a 54-51 lead with just over a minute left, but the Eagles wouldn’t score again.
On the prior possession, Milford sophomore Isaac Yeackley made a three-pointer to give the Eagles a 52-45 lead with about three minutes to go. It appeared then that perhaps, Milford would hang on.
But just seconds later, Brown made his fourth three-pointer of the game to make it a 52-48 ball game with just over two minutes left.
Brown, who leads Ogallala with 16 points per contest, ended up with a team-high 22 points Thursday – 12 of those 22 came from the three-point line.
While the Indians found success at times from beyond the arc, making five triples as a team, the free throw line was problematic for them throughout. Ogallala made 6-of-15 attempts at the charity stripe. Milford meanwhile connected on 10-of-15 shots from that same distance.
OGALLALA (27-0): 7 18 11 19 – 55
MILFORD (21-6): 19 15 9 11 – 54
O: Evan Allen-Mader-2; Trey Rezac-2; Clayton Murphy-10; Carter Brown-22; Lucas Paloucek-4; Adam Kroeger-2; Cameron Raffaeli-13.
M: Isaac Yeackley-5; Bragan Meyer-13; Grant Jakub-3; Nathan Hostetler-2; Nathan Mensik-26; Mason Roth-2; Seth Stutzman-3