Held scoreless in the first quarter, Neligh-Oakdale battled back for the 39-37 win over Randolph on Friday night.
Randolph won the girls game 70-30 to earn the split at Neligh-Oakdale.
In the boys game, the Warriors (13-3) had no answers for Randolph (10-3) in the first quarter, continuing a slump that began in the fourth quarter against undefeated Clearwater-Orchard on Tuesday. During the 20 total minutes (fourth quarter and overtime Tuesday and first quarter Friday), Neligh-Oakdale managed just seven points.
“It was an unconventional start to the game for our boys, but we came out of the half finally ready to play some ball. Down 14-0 against Randolph is more like down 20 to any other team because of the way they play defense,” Neligh-Oakdale coach Frank Gade said.
Down 10 at the half, the Warriors took the lead with 5:27 to play in the third quarter at 23-22 after back-to-back 3s from Grant White. The sophomore, who led Neligh-Oakdale with 18 points, sank 3s from opposite corners as the Warriors used a 23-8 run to rally. White was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Classmate Chris Bentley dropped another 3 on the next possession as the shots continued to fall for Neligh-Oakdale. Bentley was 2-of-4 from the 3-point line.
"In the third, we started to get the ball to the middle, and that is when we went on our run. Coming down the stretch, I knew we had it in us to win that type of ball game because of what we have gone through this week,” Gade said, referring to the overtime loss to undefeated Clearwater-Orchard.
Anybody’s game for the entire second half, Randolph reclaimed the lead at 36-35 with just 1:31 to play. Landyn Anderson tied the game with a trey from the top of the key and Denton Kuhl hit a free throw for the one-point advantage.
Stalling with passes around the key, the Warriors finally got the ball back thanks to a Tyson Belitz rebound. The sophomore hit both free throws to tip the scale back to Neligh-Oakdale. Belitz had nine rebounds - all defensively - to go with his two steals and six points.
On the next possession, the Warriors’ big man, 6-6 sophomore Ben Lingenfelter stole the ball from Randolph and heaved it down the court for the Warriors’ trademark fast break with Grant putting in the layup, making it a three-point game with 19.4 left in the game.
"Ben made a play and had the presence of mind to throw it ahead to Grant like we have been all year long,” Gade said.
Rather than giving up another huge Randolph 3-pointer, Neligh-Oakdale sent Anderson to the charity strip, where he hit 1-of-2. Lingenfelter was fouled on the rebound but struggled from the line, missing both.
With one last chance, Randolph grabbed the rebound and put up a shot than rolled off the rim and into the mammoth arms of Lingenfelter, who secured the rebound at the buzzer.
The Warriors will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Atkinson