The Roncalli Catholic boys basketball team saw it’s 2019-2020 season come to an end after a fantastic run in the 2020 NSAA Class B Boys State Basketball Championships.
The Crimson Pride (23-5) entered the tournament as the 6-seed and ranked #2 in the Omaha World-Herald Class B Rankings. The 2020 State Basketball Championships had a different feel this year, as the novel Coronavirus put limitations on the number of fans in attendance. The Nebraska School Activities Association released a statement on March 11th stating that teams would only be allowed to have immediate family in attendance to watch the 2020 State Basketball Championships in Lincoln. In an interview with RCHS alumnus and OWH sportswriter, Mike Patterson, Coach JJ Stoffel commented on the atmosphere after the Pride’s First Round game stating, “Even without people here, it’s a great environment. The atmosphere is still there but the noise is just down a little bit. I still love the atmosphere even though people can’t be here. I’m just happy we had the opportunity to be here.”
The Crimson Pride opened up the 2020 State Basketball Championships on March 12th with their First Round game against Hastings at the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Roncalli Catholic jumped out to an early 13-1 lead over the Tigers early in the 1st Quarter, but Hastings battled back late in the game to send it to Overtime which was the fourth time in two years that the Pride would have to battle in an extra period of play in the State Tournament. After trailing early in Overtime, Roncalli Catholic was able to take a 58-56 lead with 33.8 seconds left and would never look back. The Crimson Pride advanced to the State Semifinals with a 60-58 over Hastings.
On March 13th, the Crimson Pride would match up with the tournament’s 2-seed, Scottsbluff, with a chance to advance to the 2020 State Basketball Championship. The game started with the sharp shooting Bearcats jumping out to a 14-6 lead in the First Quarter but the Pride found their stride and pulled within two points at Halftime. With many ties and lead changes throughout the third and fourth quarters, Roncalli Catholic found themselves tied with Scottsbluff with 3:46 left in the game. After some great shooting down the stretch and some fouls from the Bearcats, Roncalli Catholic was able to pull it out and advance to the Class B State Championship with a 68-55 win over Scottsbluff. Later that evening, ESPN picked up the stream of the game and showed highlights from the Pride’s win in the State Semifinals on their flagship show SportsCenter. You can watch the highlights by clicking the link here.
On Championship Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Roncalli Catholic drew a familiar foe in Skutt Catholic for the 2020 NSAA Class B Boys State Basketball Championship. The Pride trailed most of the game seeing deficits of five points after the first quarter and eleven points after the second and third quarters, but the Skutt Catholic defense proved to be too strong as the Skyhawks defeated Roncalli Catholic 59-31 handing the Pride their second State Runner-Up trophy in two years.
At the conclusion of the tournament, the Omaha World Herald tabbed seniors Jack Dotzler and Taiden Red to the 2020 Class B All-Tournament team. Those two and the rest of the senior class including Shane Orr, Mitchell Hines and Luke Luebbe have left a mark on the Roncalli Catholic Basketball Program and will leave a legacy that will last a lifetime.
Dotzler in his postgame interview on Saturday, reflected on his time at RCHS, “The Roncalli Catholic family is everything to me. I went to the games when I was little. I grew up a Roncalli kid. It’s just always been instilled in me to play hard, and when I got to Roncalli it was no different. Everything that I have to say about Roncalli Catholic is great. It’s tough to put into words how much it means to me. We’ll look back 20 years from now and I’ll think of these four years. It’s a special place and special relationship you have with so many people.”
“The boys played tough all year and played their hearts out in the state tournament,” says Coach JJ Stoffel. “I couldn’t be more proud of the players’ effort along with our assistant coaches.”
Stoffel, who is in his fifth year at the helm of the Crimson Pride, also thanked the fans for their support throughout the year and the State Tournament. “We are very blessed to always have the support of the entire RCHS community.”