Posted On: 02/23/21 11:05 AM

Millard South and Omaha Westside turned back the clock Saturday (2/20/21) evening in a classic contest between two long-time foes that resembled a game played in the late ’80s to early ’90s.  In an era when the open floor, fast-paced game is commonplace, the Patriots and Warriors returned to their defensive roots in a game where every possession, heck every dribble seemed to be contested.  Senior Blake StengerBlakeStenger5'11" | CGMillard South | 2021StateNE coolly went 6/6 from the foul line late for a hard-fought 52-48 Millard South victory that should have left both clubs proud of their efforts; and if you used your imagination and squinted your eyes, you could almost see former Omaha coaching legends Tom Hall (Westside) and Larry Ribble (Millard South) working the sidelines.

Players of Note: 

Gage StengerGageStenger6'2" | PGMillard South | 2022StateNE  PG  Junior  6’2  Millard South

Stenger (#12 pictured), along with older brother Blake, have been the emotional leader of the Patriots team all season and proved it once again Saturday.  The #25 ranked junior in the state, according to Prep Hoops showed tremendous patience and strong ball skills in the half-court against relentless defensive efforts from talented pressuring guards Blake StengerBlakeStenger5'11" | CGMillard South | 2021StateNE coolly went 6/6 from the foul line late for a hard-fought 52-48 Millard South victory that should have left both clubs proud of their efforts; and if you used your imagination and squinted your eyes, you could almost see former Omaha coaching legends Tom Hall (Westside) and Larry Ribble (Millard South) working the sidelines. Players of Note:  Gage StengerGageStenger6'2" | PGMillard South | 2022StateNE  PG  Junior  6’2  Millard South Stenger (#12 pictured), along with older brother Blake, have been the emotional leader of the Patriots team all season and proved it once again Saturday.  The #25 ranked junior in the state, according to Prep Hoops showed tremendous patience and strong ball skills in the half-court against relentless defensive efforts from talented pressuring guards Caleb BenningCalebBenning5'10" | SGOmaha Westside | 2024NE, Chandler MeeksChandlerMeeks6'2" | CGOmaha Westside | 2022StateNE, and Reggie ThomasReggieThomas6'0" | CGOmaha Westside | 2022StateNE.  It is not often someone scoring just 9 total points can dictate a game, but the 6’2 guard did just that with his timely baskets, constant hounding of Warrior guards defensively, late-game assists, and more importantly unwavering nerves that his fellow teammates fed off of in pressure moments down the stretch. A quality football performer as well, Gage has received FCS program interest.  However, the junior guard is not eliminating basketball for the future.  He has gained interest from NCAA D1 and D2 schools to keep him on the hardwood over the gridiron. Reggie ThomasReggieThomas6'0" | CGOmaha Westside | 2022StateNE  SG  Junior  6’1  Omaha Westside Another Prep Hoops ranked junior stood out in this highly competitive game. Thomas, the #5 ranked Nebraska junior, kept the game tight especially early in the contest. Despite Millard South scoring on each of its first 7 possessions, the Warriors amazingly were still tied at 14 due in large part to Thomas.  The lefty converted on two old-fashioned 3pt plays and added a conventional 3 ball to boot to counter the Patriots’ hot start.  It was from that moment tied at 14, that both teams settled in for a rock fight the rest of the way.  The 6’1 guard is so strong that he absorbs contact at the rim and is a threat from outside the arc, keeping defenders honest. Jack CooperJackCooper6'6" | PFMillard South | 2021StateNE  PF  Senior  6’6  Millard South The Midland University commit came two rebounds within a double-double. With Westside guards attacking from all angles into the paint, Cooper (#34 pictured) was able to alter or block enough shots while staying relatively clear of foul trouble.  On the offensive end, the 6’6 power forward scored the ball inside, but in two vastly different ways.  Sure, he used his length and soft hands to post, then spinning quickly to score; but it was the senior’s ability to catch and score diving downhill from the elbow that was most impressive.  Cooper has always played under control, but now he plays under control at a quicker speed.  That improvement will serve him well in Fremont next fall. Youth Being Served: In such a physically, and emotionally demanding, high-level, drag-out battle, these "youngsters" showed they belonged and will be young men to reckon with in the future. Lance RuckerLanceRucker6'1" | PFMillard South | 2023StateNE  PF  Sophomore  6’3  Millard South Rucker, the 21st ranked sophomore according to Prep Hoops, tied Cooper for the team-high in scoring (10pts).  It was his personal 6-0 run that gave Millard South a 20-16 lead after the first quarter. Omaha Westside's Caleb BenningCalebBenning5'10" | SGOmaha Westside | 2024NE and CJ MitchellCJMitchell5'10" | SGOmaha Westside | 2024NE are both freshmen with name recognition, but more importantly have game recognition.  Benning scored 8 points and was a demon at times defensively, while the smooth-moving Mitchell made two significant 3pt shots when the Warriors needed them.  Trailing 27-20 with two minutes until half his two buckets from behind the arc, along with a Chandler MeeksChandlerMeeks6'2" | CGOmaha Westside | 2022StateNE tip-in at the horn, spearheaded an 8-0 Westside run to give the visitors a one-point lead heading into the locker room.  

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