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March 18, 2013At Omaha Central, Eric Behrens led the Eagles to their fourth straight state title and seventh in eight years; at South Sioux City, Terry Comstock led the Cardinals to an improbable title, the program's third in four years.
Both have been named 2013 Huskerland Prep Report coaches of the year.
What has happened at Central over the better part of the last decade has been as remarkable as any achievement in Nebraska prep basketball history. And not only did Central deliver when challenged - against Oak Hill Academy, in the state tournament games - they were dominant.
It's an interesting argument, is this team as good as last year's that went a perfect 30-0, or any of the other title teams for that matter, and I say it might be. When locked in, like at state, they were unstoppable.
"I thought our three-day run at state was our defining moment, when people got to see our team when it was healthy, hungry and determined to leave no doubt about who was winning the 2013 Class A state championship," says Coach Behrens, who is now 261-53 in his 12-year coaching career, all of it spent at Central.
At state the Eagles won their three games by an average of 25 points, making it look even easier, especially in their 69-44 championship win over Papillion-LaVista.
He points to three keys to his team's 2012-13 success: 1. talent, 2. chemistry, 3. a "We Before Me" approach to the game.
"We had a bunch of talented players who sacrificed individual statistics in the best interest of the team. They were coachable, intelligent and always classy as they represented Central High School around the state and around the nation," says Coach Behrens. "I couldn't be prouder of a group of young men."
In each of the past three seasons South Sioux City had reached the Class B state final, winning twice, all three times featuring a line-up that included three-time all-stater and current University of Iowa starter Mike Gesell and two-time all-stater Austin Groth. Um, those guys graduated last spring.
South Sioux was only 11-12 when district play began but then rattled off five straight wins, including three big comeback wins at the state tournament, to capture the Class B title for the third time in four years.
While for most of the season South Sioux was just another face in the Class B crowd, Coach Comstock saw his team take an important turn following the always tough River Cities Conference tournament.
"After we made the finals of the RCC our players began to realize if we can make it that far in a tournament like that we could play with anybody. Once our players learned their roles and got on the same things we really took off," he says.
South Sioux City came back from 18 points down in the first round against RCC rival Ralston and from 14 down against Elkhorn South in the semifinals, winning 84-76 in overtime; if nothing else, it was the most entertaining game of the tournament.
In the finals South Sioux rallied again, this time from 11 down, to beat defending champion Scottsbluff.
Comstock has just completed his eighth year as SCC head coach and has a career record of 113-73, having earlier served as an assistant at Sioux City (IA) Heelan for six years, for one as assistant at Brian Cliff (IA) University and two years as assistant at Remsen (IA) St. Mary's.