LINCOLN – The Ponca Indians outscored the Centennial Broncos 30-19 in the second half of Saturday morning’s Class C-2 consolation game at Lincoln Southeast High School. That stretch to end the game was enough to lead Ponca to a 52-43 win over the Broncos, who took fourth place at the tournament.
Six Broncos played their final game in a Centennial jersey, including Wyatt Ehlers, Michael Fowler, Nathan Hannenman, Jackson Hirschfeld, Haden Richters and Ian Schlueter.
After Friday night’s loss to Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur Northeast in the semifinals, head coach Cam Scholl gave his thoughts on Centennial’s senior class, which was also a big part in the school’s first state championship in football.
“They’re the most successful team in the history of our school,” Scholl said in the hallways of the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. “Not just one sport or anything like that, but they’ve accomplished so much. They deserve everything they’ve gotten, but unfortunately we just didn’t play our best here.”
Hirschfeld, a Concordia University basketball pledge, led the Broncos with 21 points and seven rebounds against Ponca. Sophomore guard Cooper Gierhan added seven points and three boards while junior guard Caleb Horne scored six points.
Centennial led Ponca 11-6 at the end of the first quarter, but the Indians, who were the ones that knocked the Broncos out of the state tournament in the opening round two years ago, cut their deficit to just two points, 24-22, at halftime.
Ponca wound up controlling the second half along the way to its win, outscoring Centennial 16-10 in the third quarter and 14-9 in the final eight minutes.
Centennial ends its season at 24-4 and went 1-2 at the state tournament, beating Wakefield in the opening game last Thursday at Lincoln Northeast while losing to BRLD on Friday and Ponca on Saturday.
Ponca ended its season with a record of 24-5. Gage McGill led the Indians with 20 points while Carter Kingsbury was right behind him with 18. Brandon Kneifl chipped in with six points while Evan Anderson eight.
Centennial’s scoring was rounded out by freshman Jacob Bargen with five points while Ehlers added four.
Centennial ended its season No. 4 in the final Omaha World-Herald’s Class C-2 ratings.
11 13 10 9 – 43
6 16 16 14 – 52