With leading scorer Aaron Rothermund out with an illness, Papillion-La Vista South needed some different players to step up to steal a win at Bellevue East.
The Titans (4-6) got that with four players hitting double figures in a 62-59 overtime win on Bellevue East's court Friday night.
“It was a crazy, chaotic game,” Titan coach Joel Hueser said. “Now we have the confidence to know we can do it without Aaron.”
The Titans erased an eight-point deficit going into the fourth quarter to grab a three-point lead after Adam Gadsen hit two free throws with just over 30 seconds left in regulation. East's Trevor Lenear quickly responded with a layup to cut it to one.
After Bradley Spencer hit one of two free throws for the Titans, East tied it up at 54-all when Lenear tipped in a missed shot with 3 seconds left. Papio South had a shot to end it in regulation when Aaron Pena forced a foul with .5 seconds left but both free throws rimmed out and sent the game to OT.
“I liked how the team went out and picked up Aaron (Pena),” Hueser said. “I like this team because they like each other a lot and won't let too many things cause them to stop playing together.”
Papillion-La Vista South dominated the overtime session from the free throw line, with six of its eight points coming from the strike. Christian Schneider scored seven in OT to lead the Titans. Lenear kept it close with all five of East's OT points, but 0-of-5 shooting from the charity strike in the extra session was costly.
“It's tough to lose this one,” Chieftain coach Tola Dada said. “We scored the most points we have all year but just couldn't pull it out.”
Things didn't start smoothly for the Titans, who struggled to adjust without its star. East jumped out to a 10-1 lead with under two minutes left in the first quarter, but a bucket by Zach Bussard and a 3-pointer form Christian Schneider cut the Chieftain lead to 10-6 after the first quarter.
“We rely on Aaron (Rothermund) heavily on offense, probably too much,” Hueser said. “But a game like this will help grow up the younger kids.”
The Titans continued to play solid into the second, but Brady Pelzer kept the lead with East by notching 14 second-quarter points, nine coming on three straight 3-pointers. The Chieftains took a 26-25 lead into the second half.
A 15-8 scoring advantage in the third quarter sent the Chieftains into the fourth with an eight-point lead.
Despite a struggling season, Dada is proud of how his team competes.
“The effort is never questioned for these guys,” Dada said. “Everyone is still buying in and giving it their all. If we can just dig a little deeper, I think we can get over the hump.”
The Chieftains were led by Lenear and Pelzer, who scored 26 and 22, respectively. Lenear added 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Schneider scored 16 and Bradley Spencer 14 to lead the Titans. Cole Wellman and Gadsen each added 11 points.
The Titans welcomed Rothermund back Saturday and picked up another road win with a 41-40 win at North Platte.
In their second nail-bitter in as many nights, the Titans again played the right cards down the stretch to pull out the win.
Schneider hit a layup with 2 seconds left on the clock to give Papio South the win.
The Titans used a 26-12 run in the second and third quarters to put them in position for the win.
Rothermund led the Titans in scoring with 17 in his return from an illness. Gadsen added nine and Pena eight.
East dropped a 64-37 verdict at No. 3 Omaha South Jan. 7. Trevor and Eric Lenear each had 11 points in the setback while Trevor Lenear grabbed 11 rebounds.
East trailed by just seven (28-21) at the half before being outscored 22-6 in the third quarter.