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Summer League Competition Steps Up

After a Tuesday evening that featured one blowout after another, Thursday night at the Omaha Metro Summer League the competition heated up. Five of the seven games were decided by five points or less, including two overtime games.

With several players gone for the night due to upcoming 4th of July plans, there were many teams that looked different Thursday night. But that did not keep the estimated 200 fans — a decided increase from Tuesday’s opening games — from coming out to take a look at the league. There was some confusion initially as those fans tried to figure out what teams were playing where due schedule changes caused by the many other activities going on, but once that was sorted out, some fun basketball was out there for everyone to see. Here is what went down at the Omaha Sports Academy.

Full scoring recaps can be found here.

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State Farm–98, EQ School of Hair Design–97 (OT)

In this early game, I was expecting to see Dane Watts and his great hair. Unfortunately, he was not there, and won’t be back in town for a couple of weeks. But it turned out there was more than enough excitement in this one as State Farm rebounded from their 40-point blowout on Tuesday night.

This one went back and forth throughout the contest, and Antoine Young and his State Farm team were up 4 at the half. Wayne Runnels appears to have lost a little weight since basketball season, and he was looking fast…especially on a steal that he took the length of the court for a fast break dunk. He also showed off a couple of other great moves that fans were surprised to see from a player who didn’t showcase those skills last season. The battle continued on throughout the second half, as Antoine Young completely took over parts of the game with some pretty looking shots, especially down the stretch, and finished with 35 points.

After Martane Freeman hit a three to put State Farm ahead with 30 seconds remaining, the School of Hair tied the game on a Matt Dentlinger (UNK) three pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, Antoine Young hit a clutch set of free throws to put them up 98-97 with 10 seconds left. Seeing Young knock down those two free throws in a late-game situation was a welcome sight to Jays fans who witnessed Young struggle mightily from the charity stripe during the season. For the record, neither touched anything but the net.

Runnels tried valiantly to tie the game at the other end, dribbling into the lane and using a nice move to get an open look, but he missed the shot. Securing his own rebound, he put up another shot as time expired, but it too clanged out. Runnels did finish with a league-best 38 points on the night, however. Young and State Farm escaped with the win, 98-97.

Bellevue University–90, Narmi Group 92

Creighton players Kenny Lawson, Jahenns Manigat and Ross Ferrarini, along with Nebraska grad Cole Salomon and one other player we were unable to identify, took on a full Bellevue University roster. Despite being short-handed, they held a double-digit lead throughout the contest. Lawson fell in love with the three-pointer again, while Manigat looked a lot more comfortable than he did on Tuesday, leading the way with 25 points. However, with no subs available for the Narmi Group, a fresher Bellevue squad came storming back in the final minutes to get the score within one. After hitting one of two free throws, Bellevue had the chance to win it with a three, but the shot was short off the front of the rim and Lawson’s crew escaped with the victory. For those curious, Doug McDermott was not there, as he was out of town for the holiday weekend.

UNO–72, Shanks Law–64

Kody Ingle made his debut for the Creighton fans, alongside Will Artino and Nebraska’s Drake Beranek, in leading Shanks Law against a full UNO squad. Ingle looked impressive as a three-point shooter, hitting a few open looks in the first half. One of the most memorable plays of the entire night happened in the first half of this game, when Will Artino had the ball at the top of the key, took on a defender, dribbled it two times between his legs to get separation and drove the lane before passing it off to another teammate for a score. Artino led Shanks with 18 points. For a 6’11” kid to do that, it was quite impressive.

After being tied at the half, in the second half UNO pulled away slightly and Shanks couldn’t catch back up to fall to 1-1 in summer league. UNO goes to 2-0.

Heartland Properties–77, ABIDE Ministries–82

In this one, Josh Jones surprised everyone in the gym by not only playing, but by completely changing the energy level of his team by doing so. He lead his team with 17 points, flashing some really nice moves and the same shooting touch he displayed last winter. Ethan Wragge struggled big-time from behind the arc, so the offensive firepower for Heartland Properties was provided by Jones and Iowa State grad Omar Bynum. ABIDE Ministries was without the deadly Nick Bahe, but former Nebraskan John Turek dominated on the inside and scored seemingly at will, dropping 37 points. Akoy Agau of Central High put up his best effort in trying to guard Turek, but it was a physical mismatch between the four-year-pro and high school sophomore. Largely because of that matchup inside, ABIDE was able to keep feeding the ball to Turek and get the 82-77 win.

Go Gettaz–76, Barley’s—90

Former Creighton standout Livan Pyfrom made an appearance, and played with Rodney Buford in his team’s matchup with Barley’s. Early it was much closer than their Tuesday night game, as Go Gettaz was only down 5 at the half. However in the second half, Barley’s extended the lead behind former Nebraskan Charles Richardson’s 25 points, and UNO’s Tyler Albers’ 18 points. Hasting’s Chad Spady added 15 points in the 90-76 win.

McGinn Law–84, Icehouse–82

Much like the games featuring the alumni from UNO and Bellevue, this was another physical battle. In this one McGinn Law (which still doesn’t seem to have the right jerseys) trailed most of the game. Down seven with just over two minutes to play, they put three consecutive solid possessions together to take the lead. Ryan Anderson from Nebraska led the push, dropping in 35 points. Icehouse’s BJ Valentine tried to tie the game up, but his shot from the corner as time ticked down by missed off the back of the rim. After hitting a free throw at the other end to get up by four, McGinn Law secured the nice comeback win to move to 2-0.

UNO Alumni–78, Bellevue Alumni–83, OT

In this contest, both teams slugged it out as it seemed like the whistles would not stop. I did not see much of the game, due to two other close contests going on simultaneously, but did managed to catch the end of the second half, and all of the overtime period. In that overtime period, the Bellevue Alumni scored a couple of easy baskets and the UNO Alumni could not answer. Both teams are now 1-1.

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The Metro Summer League will be back in action next Thursday night, July 8, with the first tips at 7:30. As a reminder, full scoring recaps from last night’s games can be found here.

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