Two upsets lead to district boys title

Boys basketball earns first district trophy in 3 years


Ally Seevers

The team celebrates their district win, moving onto start for the first time since 2018.

Ally Seevers, Sports Editor

History was made on March 1 as the #3 seed Millard South boys beat out the #1 Papillion La-Vista in the A6 District game, punching their ticket to the state tournament for the first time since 2018. 

“Winning districts, it was one of the happiest moments of my life,” senior Blake Stenger said. “I’m just happy for all my teammates, the coaches. Just knowing that we were able to do it and have the chance to go to state, it’s just the best feeling,” he said.

“It’s just an unbelievable experience,” senior Michael Harding said. ”Not very many teams get to do it, and me, as a senior, it’s just a great way to just start the finish.”

The Patriots are now on a four-game winning streak, with the last three over top 10 teams, bringing their overall record to 11-11.

“It’s one of the greatest feelings you can have as a coach,” Tim Leuschen said.  especially when no one else expects that you can get it done, and it’s a credit to our players that stayed with it. It’s wasn’t always an easy season; things didn’t always go right, but our guys just kept recommitting, and that just makes it even more special with some of the adversity that we faced this year,” he said.

They have definitely recommitted, coming back and beating both Lincoln Northeast and Papillion La-Vista to win the district championship after losing to both teams earlier in the season. 

“It felt great, beating both teams,” sophomore Brock Murtaugh said. “We were ahead of both teams in the fourth quarter previously, but then ended up losing, so going into districts, we were really happy where we were at and to have the opportunity to play both teams again.”

The Patriots led the Monarchs most of the game, giving up the lead with 32 seconds left in the game, but with 8 seconds left and down by one point, Blake Stenger went up for the layup, giving the Patriots the lead and the district title.

Senior Blake Stenger takes the ball down the court in the final minutes of the game against Papillion La-Vista. (Ally Seevers)

“I just knew that we couldn’t lose,” he said. “We just couldn’t end the season like that, especially it being my senior year and knowing how hard we worked this season. Once the layup was in and the buzzer was going off, at first, I don’t think it hit me that we won, but once it did, it was the best feeling in the entire world.”

“When we were down, we took the timeout cause we had the ball underneath [the hoop]. We drew up an in-bounds play that had a couple of options, and if none of those options were open, then Blake was kind of the safety,”Leuschen said. “So at that point, Blake had to make a play. We got the ball in and Blake kind of just made a play. It makes you look a lot smarter as a coach when the players step up and make the plays.”

This marks the first Millard South appearance at the boys state tournament since 2018, being the first time the team will play at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

“This is big for me and the team, especially after the way we started the season. Just being able to finish, going to state, and being one of the last 8 teams playing, it’s pretty incredible,” junior Gage Stenger said.

“It means a lot to me,” sophomore Lance Rucker said. “I’ve never gone to state, and doing it as a sophomore is really exciting.”

In the opening game this Tuesday, the Patriots will play the #1 seed Millard North.

After leading the Mustangs 18 to 11 after the first quarter the last time these two teams played together, Coach Leuschen said, “It makes us understand that we can compete with them, that we have a blueprint for success against Millard North.”

This team has put so much blood, sweat, and tears into their season, and we are really excited to see all of that work come into play this Tuesday.

As Harding said, “everyone who can come should come,” so we hope to see you all there!