KEARNEY — Donovan Williams didn’t start the game Friday night at Kearney, but the Lincoln North Star Super-State guard certainly finished it.
The 6-foot-5 senior scored 21 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the Class A No. 10 Navigators to a 72-67 victory at Kearney in front of a loud, spirited crowd of 1,300.
Williams, who went off for 50 points against Bellevue West and 44 against Lincoln Northeast last weekend, came off the bench, entering the game with just under four minutes left in the opening period.
Williams missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday to take an unofficial visit to Texas A&M, and he knew coming in that he wouldn’t be in the lineup because of his absence.
It took a while for Williams to find his rhythm, but it was there at the end when the Navigators (14-6) needed him most.
“He’s a finisher, there’s no one better at closing out a game,” North Star coach Tony Quattrocchi said about Williams. “It took him awhile to get going, but he got better and better as the game went on.”
Williams put North Star ahead for good on a drive and basket 11 seconds into overtime, breaking a 53-53 tie. He had 10 of North Star’s 19 points in the extra session, including a three-point play. He also had the skip pass for an assist leading to a three-pointer by Luke Juracek which opened up a 60-55 North Star lead with 1:58 left in overtime.
“This is a tough place to play and I felt like we dominated overtime,” said Quattrocchi, whose team led by nine in the extra session, the largest lead of the game by either team. “Donovan got us going and then we had some other guys step up and hit shots.”
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It was North Star’s fifth overtime game of the season, improving to 3-2 in those contests.
Williams admitted he felt a bit jet-lagged after getting back from College Station, Texas, after midnight Friday morning.
“I played terrible, I couldn’t hit a shot,” said Williams, who endured a night full of chants directed at him from the Kearney student section. Williams, who hit a game-winning three-pointer at Kearney in the district final last year to get North Star to the state tournament, finished 11-of-30 from the field Friday night.
“But what it comes down to is who can take over a game and play at that elite level, and I think I used that to my advantage,” he added.
Junior guard Josh Brown added 13 points for the ‘Gators which included a shot from just inside halfcourt at the end of the first half to give North Star a 24-19 lead at intermission. Kearney (10-10) outscored North Star 17-12 to enter the final period tied at 36.
The Bearcats had three players finish in double-figures as Wichita State baseball recruit Seth Stroh netted 19 points, Jack Johnson added 16 and Easton Bruce tallied 14.
North Star girls 50, Kearney 40
The Navigators (8-13) trailed by one at halftime, then Abigayle Krieser scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the second half to lead a balanced North Star attack. Sammy Leu added nine points for the winners, while Dyvine Harris and Kinsley Ragland chipped in eight each.
Lilly Novacek’s 13 points paced Kearney.