Auburn sophomore standout Cameron Binder’s postseason heroics have led the Bulldogs to their first state championship appearance in school history.
In Auburn’s district final vs. Fort Calhoun on Feb. 25, the 6-foot guard scored 40 points — outscoring Fort Calhoun’s 37 — to send the Bulldogs to Lincoln.
On Thursday, Binder made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to defeat Grand Island Central Catholic in the state quarterfinal.
On Friday, he scored a team high 18 points in a 59-46 win over Wahoo.
Auburn will play Class C-1 final at 9 a.m. Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Binder doesn’t let the pressure of big moments get to him.
“The biggest thing is not to freak out. ‘I shoot hundreds of shots every day. (I) can’t let anything shake me.’ Keeping confidence is important in big moments,” he said. “We feel so much pride. I feel disrespect from other teams who say, ‘Oh, you guys have no seniors. You’re lucky to be here.’ I may be just a sophomore, and we may be a young team, but I still want to prove so much.”
Binder has averaged 20.6 points during his sophomore season. Between playing AAU last summer and his breakout season this year, he’s drawn interest from several Division-I programs. Binder has been in contact with Boston College, UNO, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, South Dakota and Pennsylvania.
“D-I is definitely the goal,” he said. “I went to a lot of camps, elite camps this summer. We’re talking about it, guys that have said: ‘Hey, you can come down.’ So we’ll be setting up visits soon for sure.”
Binder, who visited North Dakota State on Jan. 19, will have plenty of time to make a college decision. His top priority right now? Bringing Auburn its first state basketball championship.
Auburn knocks off top-ranked Wahoo to reach program’s first state title game
LINCOLN — Auburn is growing up in front of state tournament eyes.
A team without a senior, the Bulldogs are in their first state final after eliminating defending Class C-1 champion and top-ranked Wahoo 59-46 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“They’re playing like juniors and seniors,’’ Auburn coach Jim Weeks said.
The No. 9 Bulldogs (23-3) will be in the 9 a.m. final after winning their first two tournament games for the first time since Class B in 1930.
Wahoo struck first, taking a 10-2 lead. But Auburn was within one after the opening quarter and down four at the break before winning the third quarter 18-9 for a 40-33 lead.
“Our guys don’t get too rattled,’’ Weeks said. “If you saw Wahoo yesterday, they went up and down. We said to play at our pace. “The biggest thing is we didn’t turn it over against their 1-3-1. They didn’t get a lot of runouts and a lot of second shots.
“It’s obvious they were not healthy. That’s a big reason. Blake Lacey’s injured and not playing and Winston (Cook) is hurt. That’s a big factor.”
After Trey Scheef, whose father is Wahoo coach Kevin Scheef, in the first half scored 12 of his 14 points, Brody Darnell guarded him in the second half “and we put our little, skinny, 140-pound C.J. Hughes on Winston and they did a pretty good job of shutting them down.”
Lacey broke his ankle in the 24-4 Warriors’ first-round win over Boys Town. Cook put on a knee brace for the second half.
“I don’t want to take away from what Auburn did,’’ Wahoo coach Kevin Scheef said. “They made the plays, they made the shots, the Lambert kid (Josh) was a load inside, coach Weeks did a good job of isolating him, taking away our help, and he finished.”
“The second half, (Hughes) hit two 3s and we know (Cam) Binder is such a great player. They made the plays in the second half and we didn’t.”
Binder had a game-high 18 points, Lambert 13, Hughes 12 and Daniel Frary 10. Darnell’s four included a buzzer-beating steal and layp at the end of the third quarter.
Cook had 17 points and Trey Scheef 14 for Wahoo, which was only 11-of-21 at the line.
Auburn (23-3)……….11 9 20 19—59
Wahoo (24-4)………..12 12 9 13—46
A: Cam Binder 18, Josh Lambert 13, Calvin Hughes 12, Daniel Frary 10, Brody Darnell 4, Bret Baltensperger 2.
W: Winston Cook 17, Trey Scheef 14, Thomas Waido 6, Karson Hesser 4, Braden Harris 3, Gerardo Chavez-Madrid 2.
North Bend Central hands Ogallala its first loss, reaches first state final since 1926
LINCOLN — Where were you in 1926?
That was the last time — before this year — that North Bend reached the state basketball final. The Tigers earned that championship berth Friday with a 64-44 win over previously unbeaten Ogallala.
North Bend will play Auburn in the Class C-1 final at 9 a.m. Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
“It’s been awhile,” North Bend coach John Baehr said. “Hopefully it won’t take that long again.”
North Bend, which has never won a state title, was led by senior guard Tanner Wietfeld. He finished with a game-high 26 points — 13 in each half.
Wietfeld nailed three 3-pointers in the first quarter as North Bend grabbed a seven-point lead. Ogallala led one time in the game — 12-11 — and could not stay with the Tigers.
North Bend led 34-26 at halftime and extended that advantage to 12 in the third quarter. The Tigers continued to pull away in the final period as Ogallala mustered six points.
“They did a great job of attacking us,” Ogallala coach Andy Gillen said. “They’ve got really good guards who pass the ball well.”
Wietfeld finished off the win with 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a four-year starter for us,” Baehr said. “He knows how to handle the ball.”
John Emanuel scored 11 first-half points and finished with 14 for the Tigers.
Carter Brown led Ogallala with 24 points and Evan Allen-Mader had 11.
“They’re the best team we’ve seen by far,” Gillen said. “We just got beat by a better team.”
North Bend (25-3)……….17 17 13 17—64
Ogallala (27-1)……………14 12 12 6—44
NB: John Emanuel 14, Chase Ruzicka 7, Austin Endorf 3, Tanner Wietfeld 26, Jaxon Wietfeld 6, Ben Rolenc 4, Cole Kluthe 4.
O: Evan Allen-Mader 11, Carter Brown 24, Adam Kroeger 7, Cameron Raffaeli 2.
C1 Championship: Auburn vs. North Bend Central
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena
Radio: B103 (103.1 FM, b103.fm)