LINCOLN -- Ponca took Hastings St. Cecilia for a trip outside, way outside and won its second consecutive Class C2 boys state basketball title.
Top-ranked Ponca, which finished the season 30-1, was dominant inside the free-throw lane and posted a 50-40 victory Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
That gave Ponca and St. Cecilia, winner of the crown in 2015 and 2016, the last four consecutive Class C2 state titles combined.
Ponca was so protective of the inside, St. Cecilia took just 11 two-point shots and hit only 9 of 31 3-pointers.
"Sometimes the 3-pointer was the only shot we had," said St. Cecilia coach Kevin Asher. "Not always bad. But not enough inside shooting for us."
The 3-point shooting kept the Bluehawks (24-4) in the game until late in the fourth quarter. St. Cecilia senior Trevor Leach hit a class-record eight 3-pointers in the game and an all-class 18 3-pointers for the tournament. He finished with 24 points.
But only three other Bluehawks scored and the next highest scorers for St. Cecilia were Trey Asher and Blaine Boyd with six points each.
"Credit Ponca's defense," Coach Asher said. "We didn't get inside like we needed and we usually need an inside-out attack on offense and never saw the inside much."
Ponca's Max Masin led his team with 16 points, two blocked shots and five rebounds. Teammates Carter Kingsbury, a junior, and his brother Logan a senior, scored 11 and nine points, respectively.
"Logan Kingsbury was so good on (guarding) the ball and they kept us from what we call the sweet spot, on the wing, often enough to pull away," Coach Asher said.
St. Cecilia, which lost to Class B champion York by three points after leading most of the game in a holiday tournament, closed to 37-34 on a three-pointer by Leach with 6:25 left.
But Ponca outscored the Bluehawks 13-3 the rest of the way.
The Indians hit 12 of 16 free throws during the stretch run.
"We watched film and didn't see St. Cecilia shooting that many 3s, but boy, they sure did today," said Ponca coach Adam Poulosky. "These guys wanted to prove they were better than last year's team that won state. Carter (Kingsbury) and his brother Logan (Kingsbury) and Connor Day and Max and Masin, and Dalton Tremayne gave us everything they had and it showed."
Logan Kingsbury, who led his teammates to put the nets around the coaches' necks, said, "It was all coaching. They got us ready. They gave us the plan."
St. Cecilia took 10 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter and only three two-point shots.
"Their post defense was keeping us off the blocks and that we were in the most physical game we've been in all year, except for when we played York — and we led that all of that game, even in the fourth quarter," Coach Asher said. "They got up 8-0 and we were fighting for our lives the rest of the game."