Coach Scott Lamberty says there’s nothing that will ever totally ease the pain of his Howells boys basketball team losing in double overtime to Giltner in the 2012 Class D-2 state championship game, a contest that included one of those plays that will forever live in state basketball tournament history.
So maybe it was only justice that Lamberty’s Dukes became the first team in state history to win two double overtime games in the same state tournament.
And second-ranked York’s comeback from a nine-point deficit in the final 1 minute, 15 seconds of regulation to force overtime in Saturday’s Class B championship game against No. 1 Omaha Skutt just added to the long list of dramatic finishes and last-second heroics that have been this weekend’s common thread.
“There are a lot of former players and community people up there (in Howells) who are still hurting from that, so it will always linger with me as well,” said Lamberty, whose team saw Giltner convert an unlikely four-point play in the final 1.7 seconds of regulation in 2012 to extend the game.
With Howells leading by four, Giltner’s Drew Hastings was fouled on a three-point attempt. He missed the first free throw, then missed the second. Hastings intentionally missed the third, putting it up just right for Drew Ott (who later was a starting linebacker for Iowa) to tap the rebound out to Jacob Findley, who hit a game-tying three-pointer from the right corner.
On Saturday, the wow factor was on Lamberty’s side. York’s relentless defense and Brady Danielson’s dozen points in a span of 75 seconds forced overtime in a game that York never led or was even tied with Skutt during regulation.
“I can tell you both that team I had in Howells (in 2012) and this team were an incredible group of kids,” Lamberty said. “They were both great competitors, extremely hard workers and very driven.”
In his sixth year at York, Lamberty was the perfect fit for the Dukes this winter after they brought home the Class B state football title in November. In Lamberty’s 14 years at Howells (six as head basketball coach), the school won nine state football titles and were state runner-ups in 2011, his last year before moving to York.
York became the first B school to pull off that double since Skutt did it twice — in 2005-06 and 2013-14.
“It’s hard to do (win basketball and football in the same school year) because you start that process in late July and it lasts until March. It’s a grind,” Lamberty said. “But I’ve always said that success in football leads to successful basketball seasons as well. They learn how to compete, how to work hard and it makes them better all-around athletes.”
Starter on the 1944 York title team on hand
This was York’s first boys state basketball title in 74 years, and a starting guard on that 1944 squad, Dr. Harold Nordlund, was there Saturday to watch the Dukes’ latest state champions play.
“I wanted to see them win one more while I’m still here,” Nordlund said after taking a photo with the York team outside the media interview room at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Nordlund, a York resident who will turn 91 in May, said he was able to attend a number of York games this season.
“I had friends who would get me there,” said Nordlund, who was a family physician for 40 years in the town he grew up in, then retired there.
“I love high school basketball. I always took three days to go to the state basketball tournament and two days for state track when I was working.”
He called Saturday’s game “wonderful.
“When they (Omaha Skutt) were up eight or nine (points) late in the game, I thought we would need a lot of help from upstairs,” Nordlund said. “And we got it.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it, but that was tough for an old guy to take.”
Nordlund was a junior when York won its Class B title at the NU Coliseum. The Dukes lost in the state semifinals the next season.
York has six juniors returning next season, including Danielson, NU football recruit Garrett Snodgrass and two more key players — guard Jeb Lucas and forward Reid Hoffmann. Those four scored 59 of York’s 61 points in the finals.
His advice for the returning juniors. "Keep practicing," Nordlund said.
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