Lutheran High Northeast owned the early momentum of Friday’s semifinal game in the Class D1 state tournament. And it took a while for the Lourdes boys’ team to settle into the flow of the action at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
But the Knights solved Northeast’s riddles and surged through the second half on the way to state final clinching 47-39 win.
Lutheran High posted a pair buckets and, after a Brock Hogeland 2-of-2 trip to the free throw line, the Eagles drilled a three-pointer and led 7-2.
Quinten Vasa scored twice to cut the advantage to 7-6 after one quarter.
The Eagles would hit a three-point shot at the outset of quarter number two and it took most of that frame for Lourdes to  find its way into the lead.
An offensive rebound by Vasa led to a Thomas Ragland bucket and Brandon Fredrichs collected an offensive board, was fouled and hit two shots at the line.
A Vasa three-pointer tied the game 15-15 and Lourdes enjoyed the lead after Fredrichs’ bucket.
Northeast had the last possession of the first half and Ragland came close to a steal that would have preserved Lourdes’ slim lead at the break. Northeast was able to regain control of the ball, however, and hit a shot at the buzzer to send the action to half tied at 17 each.
Defensively, the Knights seemed to do a better job of disrupting the Northeast rhythm in that second quarter by pressuring the wings and getting their hands on Eagle passes.
That would continue after half.
And the Lourdes offense slowly put the Knights in control of the action.
Ragland hit a three-pointer that put Lourdes up 20-19. A Vasa free throw and a Hayden Miller bucket made it 23-20.
Hogeland made a free throw and Miller drilled a three-point shot to make it 27-22.
The pace was favoring Lourdes.
Lourdes was racing down the court and that pace produced a Hogeland bucket in answer to a Northeast score. Ragland drilled back-to-back three-point shots and that put the Knights up comfortably, 35-26.
The frustration of fouls called against Northeast led the Eagle coach to argue with officials and pick up back-to-back technical fouls that led to his ejection from the contest.
Lourdes led 41-31 after Miller’s technical free throws and a Hogeland bucket.
And, at that point, Lourdes seemed to slow the pace by moving the ball and working the Eagle defense.
Northeast found the new pace to be more comfortable and tried to claw back in the game.
The Eagles drew to within five and had a pair of good looks at three-pointers with the final moments draining off the clock. Both shots missed and Lourdes secured its win, 47-39.
With the win, the Knights advanced to the final round of the Class D1 state tourney for a chance to defend last year’s championship.

Coach Joe Tynon
A special senior class can enhance an already impressive state resume with a win on Saturday.
The seniors, who have been to the state tourney three times, punched its ticket to the finals with a win over Lutheran High Northeast on Friday at the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
“The senior class has been extraordinary,” Tynon said. “They’ve won a lot of games in their four years.”
Part of getting to and having success at state is just doing the job that’s in front of you. That’s been the attitude that the Knights have gone with all year long.
“Our focus all year long hasn’t been on getting back to the state title game,” Tynon said. “It’s just been one game at a time. Win the next one and everything will take care of itself.
Randolph and Guardian Angels were set to play right after the Knights on Friday and Coach Tynon was on the record as saying both teams are tough and would present challenges to his ball team.
“Hopefully, we are ready to take on that challenge,” Tynon said.
Friday’s effort would make a believer out of most fans as Lourdes showed grit and determination throughout a victory over a talented Northeast team.
A deliberate pace was employed in that first half. And Lourdes hung in there and scrapped.
“I kind of thought from watching them prior against Randolph that if we stayed disciplined it would be a low scoring game,” Tynon said.
Offensively, the Knights were not as efficient as maybe their coach would have wanted in the first two quarters. Some of the credit for that goes to Northeast.
“Credit to them. They played really good defense on us and made it hard,” said Tynon.
After the break, that changed.
“We started settling in,” said Tynon. “We got the same shots in the second half that we got in the first half. I think we got better inside out touches in the second half. We got more shots and better rhythm.
“Kudos to our kids. They just made plays,” Tynon said.
A pace boost was key as Lourdes did a better job of running the floor. It created offensive chances for the Knights, like the three-point shooting of Thomas Ragland.
Getting out and getting some buckets helped raise the confidence for everyone.
Confidence is just what the team needs. And if the team can keep it up, one would figure the Knights to be extremely hard to beat on Saturday.

Thomas Ragland
Keep the shots coming. Injured wrist and all. Because they were straight cash homie.
Ragland, who suffered an injured wrist during the first half of Friday’s semifinal game against Northeast, found his shooting rhythm in the third frame with a trio of three point shots that sent the fans into a frenzy and helped push the Lourdes team into the title game.
The third of Ragland’s shots gave the Knights a nine-point lead and Lourdes never looked back.
One thing is for sure, Ragland never thought twice about taking those shots. This is where all of that practice time and work is supposed to lead.
“I kind of trusted it because I have been shooting threes all season,” said Ragland. “I tried to spark it and get it rolling into the fourth (quarter).”
As Ragland’s shots fell, the pace remained high in the third quarter. Ragland said that’s always going to favor his team.
“We love playing fast and getting up shots,” he said. “That’s our strong suit.”
The good times will keep rolling on Saturday as Lourdes travels to the Pinnacle Bank Arena for the Class D1 state title game at 11 a.m.
Ragland recalled on Friday what the scene was like last year. The thrill of playing for the title on the same court that the Huskers play on was a big deal.
He expects it will be a big deal once again.
“It would just be something our school has never done before,” he said. “Last year was the first time we had ever made it to the state championship. And now we can repeat this year. It’s just a really cool opportunity for us and I hope we get it done.”

Quinten Vasa
There was a nervous energy that kept the Knights from getting comfortable. And the Northeast team was playing off of that in the early going of the semifinal game on Friday. Something had to change.
The Eagles strangled the ball and slowed the pace. They were getting buckets and trying to control the flow.
Unacceptable. Lourdes became convinced to change that, and fast.
“We can’t let them stall the ball because we are playing their game. We want them to play our game,” said Quinten Vasa, repeating what Lourdes players were saying in the first half.
Pressure on the defensive side and, eventually, good offensive mojo, fixed the problem quite nicely.
“We had a much better flow in the second half,” said Vasa. “We moved the ball a little better and our defensive intensity was just amazing throughout the entire game. That’s what won us the game.”
On to the finals.
Lourdes has pretty much set up what they wanted. They got game one on Thursday, which was huge, and they relaxed into the rhythm of the semifinal.
Just relax. Play the game. And get the job done.
Vasa said that’s what Lourdes did on Friday. If they do it again, they’ll be back-to-back champs.