The complete basketball package that is Mike Gesell was on full display in Friday's Class B state tournament semifinal between No. 3 South Sioux City and No. 2 Omaha Gross at the Devaney Sports Center.
Watch and wonder.
That's what South Sioux City coach Terry Comstock does, though he's seen Gesell do this a number of times throughout his high school career.
"Sometimes I watch him make a move or a basket and I just go, ‘Wow,'" Comstock said.
There were a lot of "wow" moments from Gesell in South Sioux City's 71-60 victory against Omaha Gross, resulting in an eye-popping stat line: 39 points on 12-of-19 shooting — including 6-of-8 on three-pointers — 9 of 11 free throws, seven assists, four rebounds and one huge grin in the postgame interview.
"These are the games you dream about as a kid," the Iowa recruit said. "Every game for me is a lot of fun. I'm truly blessed to have these kinds of opportunities."
Gesell was so dominant, he had a hand in 10 of the Cardinals' 11 first-half field goals, scoring 20 points on seven baskets and dishing three assists. South Sioux City led 30-16 at the break and a step-back three-pointer from Gesell made it 39-23 with 3:05 to play in the third quarter. To close out the third, Kaden Moore gathered in a Gesell miss and fed his teammate for a killer three, pushing the Cardinals' lead to 48-30.
With that three-pointer, Gesell had as many points — 30 — as the entire Omaha Gross team.
"When the kids got here, they were on a mission," Comstock said. "Mike hit a couple of shots early and that gave us momentum and confidence to come out and put good pressure on them."
Dylan Travis led a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 15 points as the Cougars cut the 18-point deficit to five, 56-51, with 3:30 to play. South Sioux City made enough free throws (11-of-14) and defensive stops to hold off that late charge and surge into its third straight state title game.
"We had a lot of motivation to get back to the state championship game, and they (the Cougars) beat us on our home floor this year at the buzzer," Gesell said. "So we had a lot to play for. Our intensity, and our defense overall, was how we won."
South Sioux City (19-6) will play Scottsbluff, which upset top-ranked Beatrice 61-60, in Saturday's championship game.
"We have to come out with big energy and look to play our game," Gesell said. "We don't need to change anything we've been doing. The seniors, we want to make the most of this opportunity."
SOUTH SIOUX CITY 71, OMAHA GROSS 60
|South Sioux City
Omaha Gross—Jake McGuire 5 5-7 16, Dylan Travis 6 2-5 15, Zach Johnk 2 4-6 10, Zach Knicky 4 0-0 8, Josh Missak 1 3-4 5, Tommy Hamilton 1 0-0 3, J.J. Lebeda 1 0-0 2, Joe Coenen 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 15-24 60.
South Sioux City—Mike Gesell 12 9-11 39, Austin Groth 5 0-0 11, Sky Aldrich 1 7-8 10, Kaden Moore 2 3-4 7, Nate Rogers 2 0-0 4. Totals 22 19-23 71.
Three-point goals—Omaha Gross 5 (Johnk 2, Travis, Hamilton), South Sioux City 8 (Gesell 6, Groth, Aldrich).