All Aboard for State

Antlers Boys Basketball Advances to State after a Thrilling Victory over Lincoln Northeast.


Scott Avery

Senior Bryson Hochstein raises the championship plaque as teammates celebrate around him. The Antlers beat Lincoln Northeast 37-35 to advance to the state tournament. It's Elkhorn's first trip to state since 2009.

Jack Otterberg, Reporter

The train is state bound.

Elkhorn beat Lincoln Northeast 37-35 to win the A-5 District title and an automatic trip to the state tournament where they will face top-seeded Bellevue West at 2:00 p.m. March 12.

The win didn’t come easy. With 10.3 seconds left on the clock, the game on the line, senior guard Bryson Hochstein dribbled the ball down the court.  During the timeout, Coach Benji Hoegh called a play the team practiced every day – Secondary; a high pick-and-roll designed to get Hochstein to the basket. Junior center Drew Christo set the pick, and Hochstein drove to the right of the lane, and laid the ball off the backboard to hit the game-winning shot with 2.9 seconds left.  The Antlers withstood a last-second shot attempt by Lincoln Northeast that came after the buzzer and for the first time since 2008, the Antlers were district champions.

Hochstein said the game winning shot sparked a unique feeling.

        ¨I started off playing reserve my Sophomore year, and ended up making the shot to send my team to state, so it’s unlike anything else,¨ Hochstein said. 

Rebounds were a key to the Antler’s success, Hochstein said.

        ¨Defensive rebounds were really big and being able to secure that ball, and making sure they didn’t get a second shot, that kind of gave us the win,¨ Hochstein said.  

 No matter how big the game was, Hochstein said there were no significant changes from the way the team had played all season, which placed an emphasis on the importance of each player’s role.

        ¨We didn’t really want to change anything, we knew everybody that was going to play has a role, and we just needed to follow those roles and we knew we’d get the job done.¨

A capacity crowd of 1,500 packed into the Elkhorn gym to see the game and provide support for the home team.  

        ¨That’s definitely the biggest crowd a boys basketball game has seen in years, just the support from the community and all of the students, it felt good to actually have that for a boys game again,¨ Hochstein said.

        The victory ends a long drought district finals wins and state tournament appearances. The Antlers last won a district game in 2009 and last made a trip to state in 2008.

        ¨It’s amazing,” Hochstein said. “We just had Coach Hoegh come in October of last year, and to have our team go to state in two years of him being here, and all the people on the team are my best friends, so to be able to do this with all of them, it’s amazing,¨ Hochstein said.  

Hochstein said the Antlers won’t be favored to win in the first round, but added he has confidence in the team’s ability.

        ¨We´re the underdog,” Hoschstein said. “Nobody really thought we would make it to state; nobody thought we would make it to the district final. We´re going in it playing loose, and we´ll just give it our all.¨

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