Thrust into the spotlight, Wahoo’s Blake Lacey and Winston Cook performed like seasoned veterans Saturday morning at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Lacey and Cook, the first two players off the bench, combined to score 31 points as the Warriors defeated Winnebago 70-66 in overtime in the Class C-1 state boys basketball championship game. It's the school’s 11th state title and first since 2013.
“I don’t think you can ask any more out of a state final,” Wahoo coach Kevin Scheef said. “Winston got us back in it in the third and fourth quarter with his drives to the hoop and Blake hit two huge threes. They had us on the ropes and we battled back and found a way to get it done.”
Fourth-rated Winnebago (22-7) took a 41-30 lead with 3 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third period as Wahoo struggled with its outside shooting. The Indians made three straight threes, one each from MaNaPe Cleveland, Maurice Scott and Makoonce Littlevoice. The 9-0 scoring blitz rocked top-ranked Wahoo, but the Warriors regained some composure during a timeout and the comeback started.
“We always want to get the ball inside, either on post touches or drives from the perimeter, but we really got impatient and started casting up threes,” Scheef said. “We talked about getting some ball movement, getting some cuts to see if we can get some shots at the rim. The game of basketball is such a momentum game. Once you get a little momentum, that’s such a huge piece of it.”
Cook, a junior who scored 13 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, attacked the basket for six points in the third period. A three-pointer by Dylan Egr with 3 seconds left cut Winnebago’s lead to 45-42 and closed a 12-4 Wahoo run.
Blake Lacey is younger brother of Wahoo starter Brendan Lacey, who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. Blake made one of two free throws to give Wahoo a three-point lead with 39 seconds left in regulation. Winnebago answered when Cleveland drained a three from the top of the key with 25 seconds left.
Following a Wahoo miss with less than 10 seconds remaining, the Indians got the ball to LaPointe, who drove the length of the court into the lane, but his bank shot at the buzzer was too strong.
“We wanted to run the clock down a little further so they didn’t get that last shot, but sometimes things don’t go quite the way you want,” Scheef said. “We knew it would be LaPointe, looking to create, looking for a shot or a dish. What a great player. When I saw it leave his hands I thought we were in trouble, but lucky for us, it was our day and it didn’t go in.”
Scott’s three-pointer from the wing knotted the game at 66 with 1:10 left in overtime, but Quick scored off an assist by Lacey with 54 seconds remaining. Following a Winnebago miss, Lacey was fouled with 17 seconds remaining. The junior made both free throws to seal the win.
“I was nervous, just like I am now,” Lacey said. “But, I’ve worked all my life for this moment, and I just stepped up and knocked them down.”
For Jeff Berridge, who completed his fourth season as Winnebago's head coach, the runner-up finish followed a state title in 2015 and two straight third-place finishes. Under Berridge, the Indians are 9-3 at state over the past four years.
“Wahoo stepped up, made a big run at the end and outlasted us,” Berridge said. “But I’m proud of our guys. They fought until the final buzzer and didn’t give up.”