BRIDGEPORT, NE — In a pair of championship games that went right down to the wire, the Minuteman Activities Conference (MAC) determined its 2022 tournament champions. 

In the boys championship game, the top-seed Potter-Dix Coyotes took on the Bayard Tigers. In a low scoring first quarter, the Coyotes led 8-3 after the opening period. 

Each team got into more of a rhythm in the second and Potter-Dix opened up a 13-5 lead, prompting a Bayard timeout. Out of the break, the Tigers went on a quick 5-0 run to bring it back to a one possession game at 13-10. 

The Coyotes responded with a 7-0 run to go up 10 at 20-10. Another Tiger timeout sparked another Bayard run, however. The Tigers scored the final 10 points of the half to send the game into the break tied at 20. 

In the third quarter, the teams kept things close as the Coyotes took a 30-28 lead into the final period. Defenses took over in the fourth quarter as each team failed to find much offense. 

An and-one by Ben Sauer put Bayard up 31-28, but back-to-back shots by Luke Kasten gave the Coyotes back the advantage at 34-31. The Tigers got another free throw to bring to a two-point game, but from then on neither team could find the bottom of the net again. 

With about two minutes left, Bayard's Garett Hopkins hit a potential game-tying shot, but it was negated by a charge taken by the Coyote's Thomas Muldoon. Each team only scored four in the fourth as Potter-Dix held on for a 34-32. 

Potter-Dix was led by the 15 points from Luke Kasten while Muldoon added 11. Bayard was paced by Hopkin's nine points. 

With the victory, Potter-Dix repeats as MAC tournament champions with both wins coming over Bayard. 

The girls contest was a rematch of the previous three year's tournament championships as the South Platte Blue Knights took on Bayard. 

South Platte was looking to repeat, but Bayard got out to a quick start behind 13 points from Kierra Miller in the first quarter, including three three-pointers. The Tigers led by 11 at the end of the first, 21-10. 

The Blue Knights came back strong in the second, hitting multiple threes of their own, trimming the lead to one at 27-26 late in the period. Bayard scored the last three points of the half to take a 30-26 advantage to the locker room. 

South Platte again came out hitting shots, taking the lead on a Madi Cheleen three midway through the third which made it 34-32. The Blue Knights expanded its lead, holding Bayard to six points in the third quarter while scoring 16 itself. Heading to the fourth, South Platte led 42-36. 

In the fourth it was Bayard's turn to come back. The teams were tied on multiple occasions in the fourth before a South Platte free throw made it a one-point game. 

South Platte led 52-51 with about a minute to go, then a turnover led to a Danika Harter layup which put Bayard up 53-52. Adding to the drama, just before the fateful steal, both scoreboards in Bridgeport's gym went dark and didn't turn back on until after Bayard's lead-grabbing bucket. 

After a pause in play, the officials decided to put 51 seconds on the clock, running 10 seconds from the time on the clock went the scoreboards shut off with 1:01 left in the game. 

With its one point lead intact after the technical difficulties, Bayard's defense stiffened, not allowing a good look at the basket for South Platte. The Tigers would add to more Harter free throws for good measure to win 55-52. 

The win marks the first MAC tournament victory for Bayard since 2018 when the Tigers defeated Potter-Dix in girls basketball. It also snaps South Platte's streak of MAC tournament titles in girl's basketball at three. South Platte won the tourney in 2019, 2020 and 2021, with each championship win coming against Bayard.

Miller led Bayard in the victory with 16 points while Lexi Fiscus finished with 14 points despite fouling out in the fourth quarter. Harter also hit double digits with 10 in the game, including six in the fourth quarter. 

South Platte got 15 from each Cheleen and Avery Hayward who both hit four three-pointers in the game. Hailey Koenen finished with a dozen for the Blue Knights. 


Potter-Dix: Home vs. Minatare on Jan. 29

Bayard: Away at Gering on Jan. 27

South Platte: Home vs. Garden County on Jan. 27