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03/10/2016 - CLASS A BOYS BASKETBALL: Monarchs Hold On To Beat Rockets

By Jeff Motz

In no way, shape or form will Thursday's Class A boys state basketball quarterfinal between Papillion-LaVista and Lincoln Northeast go down as one of the nail biting games of recent memory.

In fact, it could have been a blow out by the Monarchs or a hair-raising comeback win for the Rockets.

But opportunities galore only managed a 44-40 win for Papio at Pinnacle Bank Arena and a Friday 7pm date in the Class A semifinal with Omaha South.

A 38-26 Monarch lead toward the end of the third quarter slowly dwindled when Northeast countered on baskets from 6-9 center Trace Tupper.  The Rockets got another basket from Tupper and one from Tyson Shadegg to narrow the Papio lead to 38-34.

Not very many shots were falling for each team the rest of the way.  Papillion-LaVista never hit a field goal in the final period.

Turnovers were the nemesis for Northeast (16-10), 25 in the game (five in the final three minutes).  But Monarchs hit six free throws, including four from Ayo Akinwole, who led the team with 14 points, sealed the victory.  

Sophomore forward Ed Chang (who is receiving attention from some local Division I colleges) scored all 10 of his points in the first half for the Monarchs.

Northeast had three players score in the game, led by Tupper's game-high 24 points.  Freshman Malcolm Whitlow added 12 points and Shadegg only scored four points.

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