The Manhattan CHIEF varsity boys’ basketball team recently came home with a first-place trophy from a homeschool tournament contested in Lincoln, Neb. CHIEF went 3-0 to capture the title.

In its opening game, every player on the roster scored in an easy 72-41 victory over the Omaha Lightning. Senior Cody Mericle led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Eli Kraus with 14 and Cody Schurle with 13.

Next up for CHIEF was the Hastings (Neb.) Red Tide. CHIEF scored only 20 points in the first half, and managed just 32 through three quarters.

But in the final period, it came alive thanks to hot shooting from Schurle, who hit three 3-pointers. Mericle sank two late free throws late to cap a last-minute, come-from-behind victory, 59-56. Schurle was the lone double-figure scorer for CHIEF, finishing with 19 points.

Later that day, CHIEF faced the Kansas City East Lions for the tournament championship.

In a fast-paced, high-scoring affair, CHIEF held a 28-19 lead at the end of the opening period. By halftime, it extended its lead by a point, up 43-33.

Points were aplenty in the second half as well, but the East Lions didn’t have enough to topple CHIEF, which went on to win 91-76.

Kansas City’s Isaac Koppang was the game’s high scorer in defeat, pouring in 31. CHIEF used a more well-rounded effort, with four players scoring 14 or more: Cody Mericle (22 points), Schurle (20), Aden Mericle (18) and Pat White (14).

Schurle and Cody Mericle earned spots on the all-tournament team, which was voted on by coaches competing in the event.

“KC East was really good with some quality athletes. It was a good win for us,” said Jeff Schurle, CHIEF’s athletics director for basketball. “We have good athletes who have played together for several years now. We start (players who are) 6-foot-5, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-2 and 6-foot, who all can run and jump. We play fast-paced ball that is fun to watch.”

The Manhattan CHIEF varsity girls’ team had a tougher go of it in the Nebraska tournament, placing sixth out of the eight competing squads. It lost its opener, 43-36, to the South Metro Huskies of Minnesota. It bounced back to beat the Ames (Iowa) Vision, 49-34, in Game 2.

But CHIEF couldn’t carry that momentum into its final two games, first losing to the Lincoln (Neb.) Eagles 53-40 before ending the tournament with a 47-45 setback to the Hastings (Neb.) Red Tide.

“We are battling some injuries,” Schurle said, “and just struggling a bit now.”