KEARNEY — Kearney High outlasted Millard South and gave the Patriots a taste of their own medicine.
Preston Pearson nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter Saturday night, breaking a 43-43 tie and sending the Bearcats to a 58-52 victory at the Kearney High gym.
It had been 3-pointers that had kept the Patriots in the game. Six-foot-9 senior Trevor Alber hit six of them to lead all scorers with 18 points. In all, the Patriots scored 30 of their 52 points from beyond the arc.
But their long-range shooting rarely gave them the lead and after the start of the fourth quarter, the Patriots never were closer than four points.
“Every win’s a good win and to be in front of our home crowd for the first time, it’s always fun,” KHS coach Drake Beranek said. “You never know how kids are going to respond. They grew up watching this stuff and can’t wait for their moment.”
Pearson led the Bearcats with 17 points and Jack Johnson scored 16. Both players came off the bench last year.
Seth Stroh, one of two returning starters, score five of his 10 points in the last five minutes to seal the win.
“We had some guys step up and make some big plays late,” Beranek said.
With the three-point skills of the Patriots, Kearney couldn’t pull away.
“We got a pretty good shot from Millard South today. They shot the ball well, had some guys make some plays in the lane, so that was pretty tough,” Beranek said.
Three straight 3-pointers by Millard South gave the Patriots a 29-25 lead late in the first half. But a 3-pointer by Easton Bruce cut the margin to one at halftime and Johnson scored the first basket of the second half to put Kearney ahead.
Millard South had its biggest lead, 40-32, late in the third quarter, but Kearney went on a 17-3 run capped by Pearson’s back-to-back threes.
“Simple stuff. ... We got an offensive rebound, then we got fouled, hit two free throws,” Beranek said. “It all starts with something simple. When you’re not playing well you want to make a fantastic play. When sometimes what starts momentum and starts runs is diving on a loose ball or getting a tip to get us an extra possession. Then that can build from there, so we talked a little bit about that and how important it is just to do the little things so big things can happen.”
Kearney will be back at home Saturday to play Bellevue West.
KHS 58, Millard South 52
Score by Quarters
Millard South (1-3)13 16 14 9 — 52
Kearney (3-1)13 15 15 15 — 58
MILLARD SOUTH — Trevor Alber 18, Blake Stengel 14, Gage Stenger 10, Michael Harding 6, Jack Cooper 4.
KEARNEY — Preston Pearson 17, Jack Johnson 16, Seth Stroh 10, Colin Murray 7, Easton Bruce 5, Will Vanderbeek 2.
Patriot girls pull away for 32-point win over Bearcats
KEARNEY — Millard South poured in 28 points in the third quarter Saturday night to roll to a 75-43 win over the Kearney High girls.
The Patriots, already leading 32-19 when they went on their third-quarter run, improved to 5-0 while Kearney dropped to 0-4.
Maddie Krull led Millard South with 22 points, while Jayme Horan added 17.
For Kearney, Lily Novacek finished with 12 points and Kierstynn Garner tallied 11.
Kearney will be back in action Saturday, playing host to Bellevue West.
Mill. South 75, KHS 43
Score by Quarters
Millard South (5-0)15 17 28 15 — 75
Kearney (0-4)8 11 15 9 — 43
MILLARD SOUTH — Maddie Krull 22, Jayme Horan 17, Khloe Lemon 10, Cora Olsen 9, Mya Babbitt 6, Chloe Carr 4, Morgan Bell 3, Miranda Kelly 3.
KEARNEY — Lily Novacek 12, Kierstynn Garner 11, Aspen Rusher 9, Adi Wood 4, Sydney Province 4, Kaleigh Hatcher 2, Tatum Rusher 1.