LINCOLN — In the first round of the Class C-2 state tournament, the Sutton boys basketball team had some issues on offense. Senior Reed Stone made sure scoring wasn't a problem for the Mustangs in this morning's semifinal.
Propelled by Stone's hot hand from behind the arc early, Sutton beat Hartington Cedar Catholic 57-42 at the Pershing Center to advance to the state championship Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Devaney Sports Center.
"Yesterday, we didn't come out to our full potential, but we were able to get through with it defensively," said Sutton head coach Steve Spongberg, whose Mustangs (27-1) scored just 16 in the first half Thursday on the way to a 37-24 win over Crofton. "Today, I thought we came out and hit some shots and got started right offensively."
Stone got the Mustangs off to a hot start against Hartington Cedar Catholic (21-8), hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter to score nine of Sutton's 16 opening-quarter points — equaling the Mustangs' offensive output during the entire first half Thursday.
"(Stone's performance) was huge. We kind of challenged him last night. We knew he was going to play as good of a point guard in this class in (Hartington Cedar Catholic's James) Kaiser," Spongberg said. "We told him to take the shots when he had them. ... We needed some other people to step up and Reed did a good job for us."
Stone finished the game with 17 points and shot 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Spongberg said a shooting performance like Stone's is contagious. Sutton shot 17-for-33 as a team and finished 10-of-20 from 3-point range. Fellow senior Austan Rath had his second straight game in the state tournament with more than 20 points, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting.