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OMAHA — A bit more balance and a few more plays down the stretch proved to be enough for Omaha Westside’s boys basketball team Thursday night.

The Class A No. 6 Warriors used a 6-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to grab the lead, then Jadin Booth secured the victory with four free throws in the final 16 seconds to give the hosts a 58-51 triumph against No. 8 Lincoln North Star in an opening round game of a four-team, season-opening pod.

“I talked to six Class A coaches this week leading up to this game, and they all said the same thing — we’re going to have highly competitive games and it’s going to be the team that makes the plays at the end that’s going to win,” said Westside coach Jim Simons, whose team was 11-13 last season.

“We did that the last five minutes. We had the offensive skills last season, but tonight, we showed we’re a tougher team defensively, especially there at the end.”

A pair of free throws by North Star 6-foot-5 junior standout and Nebraska recruit Donovan Williams gave the Navigators their final lead at 44-43 with 5:14 left. Williams had a game-high 23 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Williams also had 10 rebounds to lead a 38-22 North Star edge on the boards.

A free throw by Westside’s Chase Thompson tied it before a Carl Brown three-pointer from the corner off an assist from Booth put the Warriors ahead to stay. A pair of PJ Ngambi foul shots finished the spurt and lifted Westside to a 49-44 advantage with 2:30 remaining.

Booth, a 6-foot-2 junior guard who has a scholarship offer from Omaha, netted 17 points to lead four Warriors in double-figures. Ngambi added 15, the 6-6 Thompson contributed 13 inside and Brown chipped in 12.

Both star players struggled from the field as the defenses on both sides proved difficult to score against. Williams was 5-of-21 overall and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc, while Booth finished 4-of-14 from the field and 1-of-7 from three.

Williams was held scoreless in the first quarter, but 6-7 senior Josiah Allick picked up the slack and exploded for 10 points out of the gate for North Star. Allick scored on three drives to the basket, converted a three-point play and shot down a three-pointer from the outside, displaying the perimeter skills he developed over the offseason.

Foul trouble, however, forced Allick to sit long periods in the second and third quarters. North Star was whistled for 22 fouls with junior post player Jared Lopez fouling out.

“That was a crucial factor in the game, especially on the offensive end,” North Star coach Tony Quattrocchi said about Allick’s foul difficulties. “I thought we did a lot of things well tonight, but we can’t have just one or two guys scoring. We’ve got to get production from everyone on the floor.”

Williams got going in the second quarter, scoring 10 in the period to key a 13-3 run to end the half and give North Star a 30-29 edge at intermission.

“You’re going to give up 20, but we made him take a lot of shots to get it,” Simons said about his team’s defense on Williams. “We ran a lot of different guys at him and tried to make it as difficult as we could on him.

“Allick is really good,” Simons added. “I saw him last April and he was better than he was during the high school season, then I saw him in July and he was better than he was in April. And now he’s taken it to another level since this summer.”

Westside girls 64, North Star 42

Ryley Nolin scored 18 points and teammate Ella Wedergren added 16 to propel the defending Class A state champion Warriors to a season-opening win. Westside led 40-27 at halftime behind 13 first half-points from Wedergren, a 5-9 junior guard, and 11 by Nolin, a 5-6 senior guard.

Junior Jasmine McGinnis-Taylor knocked down 12 points inside for the winners.

Sophomore guard Abigayle Krieser scored nine points and NU volleyball recruit 6-3 freshman Bekka Allick, chipped in eight for North Star.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.


Sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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