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Greeley County wins back-to-back titles
BY RICK PETERSON, JR. KSHSAA Covered The Greeley County Jackrabbits celebrate.


KSHSAA Covered

It wasn’t a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, but Greeley County senior guard Titus Sherer came through with a pair of plays Saturday that will join Lincoln Shafer’s shot from a year ago in Jackrabbit basketball lore.  

After Shafer’s baseline 3 lifted Greeley County to the title last year, Sherer delivered the heroics this time as the Jackrabbits found themselves in a battle with Lebo in the Class 1A Division 2 title game. 

In a 39-39 game, Sherer shifted the momentum by taking a charge, which was compounded by a technical foul on a Lebo player after the play. 

After Jaxson Brandl hit the two free throws to put the Jackrabbits in front, Sherer delivered a dagger 15 seconds later with a 3 from the left wing to put Greeley County up five. 

The Jackrabbits, who trailed by eight early in the third quarter, remained in control after Sherer’s two key plays, holding off Lebo 49-43 to secure the repeat at Barton Community College.

“We got caught too many times reaching in the first half,” Sherer said. “We went into the locker room and coach was like, ‘They’re taking it all the way. Stand in there and take it.’ When I saw him coming, I was like, ‘I got to take it.’”

Sherer then found himself wide open on the ensuing possession.

“Nobody around me, let the trigger go and it looked good from the fingertips,” Sherer said. 

“That charge gave us a bunch of momentum,” Brandl said. “And after he came down and hit a 3,  ‘Finally. Things are starting to go our way.’”

It was fitting that Sherer was the one to ignite the Jackrabbits (25-1), who had struggled offensively in their halfcourt offense for a good chunk of the game. 

“Titus is the energizer bunny of this senior group,” Greeley County coach Josh Gooch said. “He’s always been a leader, bringing energy. He does it in so many different ways. It’s fun for all those seniors to walk out here with two rings on their hands now.”

Lebo had the Jackrabbits frustrated. After Brandl scored Greeley County’s first nine points, the Wolves held him to two points in the second quarter and took a 25-21 lead into halftime. A 6-2 spurt to start the third gave Lebo its biggest lead at 31-23. 

The reigning champions cut the deficit to two by the end of the third and gained their first lead of the second half on a bucket by Isaac Schneider with 6 minutes left. The lead would switch hands three more times before Brandl’s free throws after the technical put Greeley County in front for good. 

“We fought through a lot of adversity,” Brandl said. “Our shots weren’t falling. We got in foul trouble. We told ourselves, ‘We can do, we can do it, we can do it.’”

“We try not to get too high or too low, we just try to maintain the course. Just keep battling and it will pay off, and it did,” Gooch said. “Kept fighting, kept battling. A lot of the shots were in and out, or just short. We kept working.”

Brandl scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting. His six steals helped Greeley County generate offense at times when it was sputtering. 

“I tried to tell him not to worry about it being his last game and that stuff, but he definitely wanted to make a statement, being that it was his last hurrah in a Rabbit uniform, and he did,” Gooch said. “He’s going out on top.”

Shafer and Valentin Villalobos held Lebo standouts Landon Grimmett and Grayson Shoemaker to a combined 20 points. Shomaker went for 30 in the quarterfinal and Grimmett 32 in the semifinal. 

“Lincoln does a great job of shutting down scorers like that,” Gooch said. “And (Valentin) Villalobos does a great job of moving his feet and just knowing where to go. Those two did a great job of holding those two guys to 20 points, They scored half of (Lebo's) points. And (Zach Oswald) is just a man-child down there. We tried to do everything we could but he was tough. He was a difference-maker early on.”

Oswald scored a team-high 13 points while Shoemaker had 11 and Grimmett 9. 

Lebo went 17 of 45 from the field and 2 of 13 from 3-point range. The Wolves missed an opportunity to build its lead in the third quarter after shooting 4 of 16 in the frame. 

“We had the momentum in the third and we lost it,” Lebo first-year head coach Dennis Becker said. “That’s a great Greeley County team, but it seemed like they shifted momentum just a little bit and then we just gave it to them with some key turnovers and the silly technical. We just couldn’t hold on and we didn’t make key plays when we needed it.”

It was still a heckuva run by the Wolves (17-8) to reach the championship game. 

“As you look back and see that trophy in the trophy case, you’re going to remember the memories that we had this week and over the course of the season,” Becker said. “We’re going to be able to enjoy it at some point.”

Villalobos joined Brandl in double figures with 12 points while Sherer and Jariath Yanez each had 6. 

It was Greeley County’s third title in program history. Tribune High School also won a state championship in 1968. The Jackrabbits have six seniors – Brandl, Sherer, Schneider, Villalobos, Yanezand Carson Luebbers. 

“You’re just feeling all these emotions running through your body and mind,” Sherer said. “I can’t explain it. I appreciate (the second title) a lot more because it’s my senior year.”

Lebo 11 14 8 10 – 43

Greeley County 12 9 10 18 – 49

LEBO (17-8) – Grimmett 4-12 0-0 9, Davies 1-4 0-0 2, Shoemaker 4-13 2-2 11, Bailey 4-8 0-1 8, Oswald 3-7 5-6 11, Konrade 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 17-45 7-9 43. 

GREELEY COUNTY (24-1) – Shafer 0-4 0-0 0, Sherer 3-5 1-2 6, Schneider 2-4 0-2 4, Villalobos 5-6 1-1 12, Brandl 7-12 5-6 21, Yanez 2-8 1-3 6, Luebbers 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-40 8-14 49. 

3-pointers–L 2-13 (Grimmett 1-6, Shoemaker 1-5, Davies 0-2). GC 5-16 (Brandl 2-4, Sherer 1-2, Villalobos 1-2, Shafer 0-4, Schneider 0-1). Rebounds – L 33 (Oswald 15), GC 20 (Brandl 5). Assists–Lebo 4 (Grimmett, Shoemaker, Bailey, Oswald). GC 7 (Brandl 3). Turnovers–Lebo 15, GC 8. Fouls–L 17, GC 13.

Axtell 12 5 15 13 – 45

So. Central 12 17 10 20 – 59

AXTELL (20-6) – Grad. Buessing 2-11 4-6 8, Broxterman 2-10 0-0 5, Detweiler 2-10 3-6 7, Shaughnessy 0-6 0-0 0, Schmelzle 3-14 4-8 10, Schmitz 6-8 1-3 13, E. Buessing 0-1 0-0 0, Talbot 0-0 0-2 0, G. Buessing 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-61 12-25 45. 

SOUTH CENTRAL (18-8) – Sarmiento 6-10 6-6 18, Prusa 3-8 3-5 9, Herd 4-7 2-6 10, Howell 3-4 2-4 8, Jellison 2-5 0-0 4,Totals 22-41 14-23 59. 

3-point goals – A 1-21 (Broxterman 1-9, Detweiler 0-3, Shaughnessy 0-5, Schmelzle 0-4). SC 1-4 (Uhl 1-1, Jellison 0-2, Herd 0-1). Rebounds–A 39 (Grad. Buessing 13), South Central 35 (Uhl 9). Assists – A 12, SC 7 (Prusa 3). Turnovers–A 14, SC 20. Fouls – Axtell 22, SC 21. Fouled out – Schmitz.