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February 28, 2014

Class A Boys Districts Preview

You know, it just might be fun.

After winning the Class A boys basketball state championship the past four seasons in a row, and seven of the last eight, maybe it's fun for Omaha Central to perceived as an underdog as we begin the postseason.

Mostly likely not - winners never want to be anything but winners - but still.

In my mind you can throw a the winner's blanket over Central, Omaha South, Omaha Benson and Omaha Westside, there should be room for all four of them, with Lincoln Southeast making a late, noteworthy charge.

Omaha Central head coach Eric Behrens knows his way around the postseason and he likes the makeup of his 2013-14 squad, though he expects the Eagles to be challenged in the A-2 district, which Central hosts.

"We have a very tough district, opening up with Lincoln Southwest and if we are able to win that one we'll face a tough Omaha Northwest or Lincoln North Star team," says Coach Behrens. "We will have to be determined, unselfish and up for the challenge to get out of districts and advance to state this year. This has been a real unselfish group, real coachable, and it emphasizes winning and team goals above individual accomplishments."

As usual, Central has its share of headliners, led by all-stater Tre'Shawn Thurman but Coach Behrens reminds he and the team's second-leading scorer, Jarek Coles have plenty of help.

"Austin McGaugh, Malik Harris and Reath Nyoach are three of our unsung leaders," says Coach Behrens. TreShawn and Jarek are our leading scorers but Austin, Malik and Reath do a ton to help this team win and have been unselfish and patient as they've waited to get into the varsity rotation at Central until their senior year.

"They are outstanding young men and really represent Central well."

Since the calendar flipped to 2014 no Class A team has been hotter than Omaha Westside. The Warriors have won 13 of 14, the only loss to powerful Omaha South, and have beaten Central and 19-4 Norfolk along the way.

"Overall we have a balanced team that believes in one another, with our eight seniors really giving us great leadership. Our guys have bought into the chemistry thing and know how important it is to our success," says Westside head coach Brian Nemecek "Our team defense is our strength and it's gotten better as the season has progressed."

Westside will host the A-4 district and is the tournament favorite, though the cautionary tale reminds you No. 2 seed Millard South owns a win over the Warriors. But that was back in the Metro tournament, before the calendar flipping.

"This is going to be a tough, competitive district tournament and we are going to need to play strong defense and rebound well in order to win out," says Coach Nemecek.

District A-1 at Omaha Benson High School

Saturday, 1 p.m.: #1 Omaha Benson 44.0000 (21-3) vs #4 Bellevue East 34.9091 (0-22)

Saturday, 3 p.m.: #3 North Platte 39.6667 (11-13) vs #2 Lincoln High 39.8696 (10-13)

Final: Monday, 5:30 p.m.

Bob Sez: At its best, Benson has been the best team in Class A this season. No real challenger to the Bunnies in this field.

District A-2 at Omaha Central High School

Saturday, 5 p.m.: #1 Omaha Central 43.7917 (20-4) vs #4 Lincoln Southwest 36.3478 (4-19)

Saturday, 7 p.m.: #3 Omaha Northwest 39.1364 (9-13) vs #2 Lincoln North Star 40.6957 (15-8)

Final: Monday, 7 p.m.

Bob Sez: At its best, Central has been the best team in Class A this season. North Star could be a little tricky in the final.

District A-3 at Omaha South High School

Saturday, 5:30 p.m.: #1 Omaha South 43.6957 (18-5) vs #4 Grand Island 36.8261 (5-18)

Saturday, 7:15 p.m.: #3 Papillion-LaVista South 39.1364 (9-13) vs #2 Creighton Preparatory School 41.0000 (13-9)
Final: Monday, 7 p.m.

Bob Sez: At its best, South has been the best team in Class A this season. Prep is always going to play you tough but the Packers will survive that test in the finals. (Of note, Grand Island DID take Benson into overtime this season...)

District A-4 at Westside

Saturday, 5 p.m.: #1 Omaha Westside 43.4091 (17-5) vs #4 Millard North 37.3182 (4-18)

Saturday, 7 p.m.: #3 Papillion-LaVista 39.1364 (9-13) vs #2 Millard South 41.0000 (14-9)

Final: Monday, 7 p.m.

Bob Sez: At its best, Westside has been the best team in Class A this season. That said, Millard South beat the Warriors, 56-49, way back in the Metro tournament, before Westside won 13 of its last 14.

District A-5 at Bellevue West

Saturday, 5 p.m.: #1 Bellevue West 43.0455 (16-6) vs #4 Omaha Bryan 37.4091 (5-17)]

Saturday, 7 p.m.: #3 Omaha North 39.0455 (8-14) vs #2 Fremont 41.2609 (14-9)

Final: Monday, 7 p.m.

Bob Sez: Bellevue West has the athletes to run any of its district opponents out of the gym but if it's the T-Birds and Fremont in the final I say the Tigers keep it close.

District A-6 at South Sioux City

Saturday, 4 p.m.: #1 South Sioux City 42.9565 (14-9) vs #4 Lincoln Northeast 38.5652 (10-13)

Saturday, 5:45 p.m.: #3 Millard West 39.0000 (9-13) vs #2 Omaha Burke 41.3636 (14-8)

Final: Monday, 7 p.m.

Bob Sez: Last season's Class B state champ, top seed South Sioux has represented itself well in Class A this season. That said, Northeast will be a tough out for the Cardinals and Burke is probably the best team in the district. We'll see.

District A-7 at Lincoln Southeast

Saturday, 5:15 p.m.: #1 Lincoln Southeast 42.9130 (18-5) vs #4 Kearney 38.6087 (9-14)

Saturday, 7 p.m.: #3 Lincoln East 38.9130 (11-12) vs #2 Norfolk 42.6087 (19-4)

Final: Monday, 7 p.m.

Bob Sez: Here is where things get tricky. Norfolk wrecked its chances of hosting the district, losing to 10-13 Lincoln Northeast and 5-17 Omaha Bryan, the latter at home, on the last weekend of the regular season. Since Southeast beat Norfolk 61-59 in overtime back on Jan. 24 the Knights have won nine of 10, the loss to powerful Omaha South.


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