Published Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm / Updated at 12:40 am
Thomas helps No. 1 Benson rally past Westside

Another challenge, another hard-fought win for the No. 1-ranked Omaha Benson boys basketball team.

After trailing by 10 late in the third quarter, Benson erased that deficit and then held on for a 53-50 win over No. 5 Omaha Westside on Tuesday night at Benson High School.

Benson improved to 3-0 on the young season — the wins have come over No. 3 Omaha South, No. 2 Omaha Central and now Westside. The Bunnies’ average margin of victory has been five points.

“They’ve been tough. They’ve been very tough games. They all gave us a run,” Benson senior forward Khyri Thomas said. “Tonight they gave us a run, but I was glad we were able to pick it up.

“We showed we’re going to play hard and not give up.”

Benson got off the mat after struggling mightily at the start of the second half.

After trailing most of the first half, the Bunnies took a 24-23 lead into halftime. But Westside’s zone defense held Benson scoreless for the first 5 minutes of the third quarter as the Bunnies missed their first 12 field goal attempts.

Meanwhile, Westside (2-1) got seven points from senior Mike Herrmann during an 11-0 run as it took a 34-24 lead.

Westside’s lead was 35-25 when Thomas hit a 17-footer with 35 seconds left in the quarter. That first field goal of the half ignited the Bunnies.

Center Thik Bol scored on a putback with eight seconds left — he finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds — and after a turnover, Maurice Buckley banked in a 25-footer at the buzzer to pull Benson within 35-32 heading into the fourth quarter.

Westside maintained the lead until Thomas grabbed a defensive rebound, drove the length of the court and made a layup to put the Bunnies up 45-44 with 3:45 left.

Benson’s lead never got bigger than four down the stretch. The Bunnies were up 51-47 after a Buckley layup with 50 seconds left, but Westside answered 20 seconds later with a 3-pointer from the right wing by Brock Nemecek. It was Westside’s eighth 3-pointer of the game.

Benson’s Thomas made two free throws with 21 seconds left. Westside’s Kevin Metoyer missed on a 25-footer with 10 seconds to go, and the Warriors never got off another 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Benson coach Donnie Johnson said his team is resilient. “We were down, but we saw their maturity that they’re going to keep fighting.”

Thomas willed his team in the fourth quarter as he scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the final nine minutes. He also grabbed 10 rebounds on the night.

“My center Thik said, ‘Number 1 players don’t play like this,’ ” Thomas said. “I ran it through my head a couple of times and thought, ‘I got to pick it up.’ They were counting on me.”

Westside coach Brian Nemecek liked the effort from his team as well.

“I was proud of our kids and how they battled. It was a good basketball game. We just came up a little short at the end,” Nemecek said. “When Khyri can get the ball in the open court, he creates some energy for his team. That’s why he’s such a good player. That’s why he’s a Division I recruit.”

Buckley added 13 points for Benson, scoring nine in the final nine minutes. Herrmann led Westside with 16 points and five rebounds, while Metoyer added 15 points and three assists.

Benson tries to stay perfect Friday when it plays at Papillion-La Vista, while Westside faces Omaha Northwest.

Omaha Westside (2-1) ....... 14    9 12 15—50
At Omaha Benson (3-0) ..... 11 13    8 21—53

OW: Kevin Metoyer 5-11 2-5 15, Sam Wilkinson 1-1 1-2 4, Mike Kiger 2-5 2-4 7, Trae Meeks 0-1 0-1 0, Brock Nemecek 3-6 0-0 8, Mike Herrmann 6-10 3-3 16, Kavon Neelon 0-2 0-0 0, Jake Meyers 0-0 0-0 0, Anthony Bratton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-39 8-15 50.

OB: Khyri Thomas 8-13 5-6 21, Danny Barfield 0-2 0-0 0, Mar’shun Stewart 0-3 0-0 0, Michol Bradley 0-2 0-0 0, Jay Bartling 0-2 0-0 0, Maurice Buckley 5-11 1-2 13, Tyrone Clayton 1-1 2-2 4, Tyree Peter 1-5 2-2 4, Thik Bol 4-7 3-6 11. Totals 19-47 13-18 53.

3-point goals: OW 8-19 (Metoyer 3-5, Nemecek 2-5, Kiger 1-2, Herrmann 1-3, Wilkinson 1-1, Meeks 0-1, Neelon 0-1, Bratton 0-1), OB 2-12 (Buckley 2-6, Stewart 0-3, Barfield 0-1, Bradley 0-1, Bartling 0-1). Rebounds: OW 26 (Meyers, Herrmann 5), OB 28 (Bol 13). Turnovers: OW 15, OB 7. Total fouls: OW 15, OB 17. Fouled out: None. Att.: 1,000 (est.)

Contact the writer: Gene Schinzel    |   402-444-1038    |  

Gene Schinzel is a copy editor and staff writer for The World-Herald.

Each week during the high school sports season, highlights a matchup in the ongoing "Hiland Dairy Game of the Week" series. Previous matchups »

Refuel with Hiland »

< >
2013 All-Nebraska football, volleyball teams
View The World-Herald's selections to the 2013 All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams.
2013 Super Six football team
Meet The World-Herald's 2013 Super Six team, honoring the area's top college football prospects.
All-Nebraska basketball teams 'shake' it up
Being known more for their ability to shake off a defender than for their dance moves didn't stop our 2013 All-Nebraska basketball selections from busting a few "Harlem Shake"-inspired moves.
Facebook: Nebraska Prep Zone Page
The Nebraska Prep Zone Facebook page is your home on the social web to get the latest Nebraska prep sports news, photos, updates and more from around the Midlands.
Map: Nebraska Stadiums
Need help finding a stadium in the state of Nebraska? We've got you covered with this interactive map of high school and college facilities from across the state.
Nebraska high school all-time swimming leaders
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Nebraska high school swimming and diving competition.
Nebraska high school all-time track charts
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Nebraska high school track and field competition.
The disappearance of small-town football
Friday night lights across rural Nebraska are going dark. But one town, in its last season of gridiron independence, proved that school spirit is stronger than ever.
Western Iowa high school all-time track charts
See a complete list of the all-time leaders from Western Iowa high school track and field competition.