GRETNA — It might be the opening weekend for boys high school basketball, but the Gretna offense is already in midseason form.
The two-time defending Class B state champions shot 77 percent from the field (28-of-36) on its way to a 65-44 victory over two-time defending Class C-1 state champion and No. 4 Bishop Neumann on Friday night before an estimated 900 spectators at Gretna High School.
The third-ranked Dragons (2-0) carved up Neumann’s 1-3-1 zone and man-to-man defenses for both wide open looks from the three-point line and dishes inside for point-blank shots off dribble penetration.
Six-foot senior guard Tyler Sullivan, one of two starters back for Gretna, knocked down 15 points, hitting all six shots from the field (one three-pointer) and 2 of 3 foul shots. Ely Doble, a 6-4 sophomore, benefited from the sharp passing inside, scoring 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting. He had 10 of those in the second quarter.
Another sophomore, 5-10 guard Trey Knudsen, made the Cavaliers pay when they did sag in by netting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc on his way to 10 points. Joey Johnson, the 6-3 senior who hit the game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds of the Dragons’ 55-53 win over Scottsbluff in last year’s state final, contributed nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“Neumann runs a very good 1-3-1 zone, and I thought our kids held their composure well to the pressure they put on you. We didn’t handle that as well last night,” said Gretna coach Brad Feeken, whose team opened the season with a 59-55 win over B No. 10 Omaha Roncalli on Thursday. Gretna returned just two starters from last season — Sullivan and Johnson.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot it well and this is a group that plays very well together.”
The Dragons sprinted to a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes and never looked back. They held a 23-12 margin after one quarter and took a 39-27 edge into intermission, shooting 18-of-24 from the field. Neumann trimmed the deficit to 11 twice in the third quarter, but trailed 50-37 heading into the final eight minutes.
With just one starter back from a year ago, Neumann coach Mike Weiss was encouraged by what he saw from his team, despite the loss.
“We need games like this against quality opponents,” said Weiss, whose team faces C-2 No. 1 Hastings St. Cecilia on Saturday. “It exposes some of our weakness and hopefully helps us in the long run.
“As long I can coach these kids the right way and keep things positive, we have a chance to be a very good team,” Weiss added. “This is a whole new group, and I liked a lot of things we did tonight.”
Junior guard Trey Ahrens led a balanced Neumann attack with 10 points, while another 6-foot junior, Koby Simons, chipped in nine.
Gretna girls 57, Bishop Neumann 45
Faith Ross’ 17 points paced the Class B No. 5 Dragons past C-1 No. 3 Neumann. Ross kept Gretna in it in the first half with four three-pointers and 12 points as the teams went into intermission tied at 27. A pair of sophomores — Jaiden Albright and Alexis Spier — added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Kelsie Cada and Jessina Rada led the Cavaliers with 10 points each, while Alyssa Rezac added nine.