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March 15, 2014
From a Scrub's Standpoint
Please follow me on Twitter @HuskerlandBob throughout the day. I'll be busy with my camera but make time for some inane comments, none which are designed to insult anybody.
Beyond that, I can't promise any real insight but it might be fun!
Here is my take on Friday's semifinals and a quick peek at today's finals, most of which you couldn't have predicted would have come to pass. (I say this to soften the blow of ME not being able to predict them to pass...)
FRIDAY: David is running around, owning the place in Class A. Starting with Central on Thursday the Goliaths have been knocked out with pre-tournament favorite Omaha Benson the last to fall, losing in overtime to Omaha Westside, which actually entered the tournament in the role of David's wingman, just outside the ropes of the Big Three (Central, Benson, South).
Bellevue West and Norfolk gave us a fresh new look in the other semifinal and it's the T-Birds who return to the finals, the first time since 2007. (Memory Lane: That season yielded the greatest Class A final I've seen in person, with Central's Josh Jones out-dueled Belle West's Antoine Young, with Central eking out a 93-85 overtime win. It was the second year in a row Central beat Bellevue West in the finals, the start of the Eagles' magnificent, seven-title run.)
FINAL: Omaha Westside (21-5) vs. Bellevue West (20-6), 6:30 p.m. Hardcore fans are going to appreciate the way both these teams stepped their games up to be favored opponents, holding on in tight spots to reach the finals. Casual fans, a lot of them, will enjoy it because Central's not in it; such is the price for winning seven times here lately.
Cue the Westside Story overture...Winner: Westside.
FRIDAY: I'm not around it a lot and don't pretend to be a child psychologist but it sure seems like Elkhorn South and Omaha Skutt had a certain, um, enthusiasm for playing each other in yesterday's semifinal. Third time's a charm for Skutt, ended Elkhorn South's unbeaten run toward the final, 66-59.
With all due respect to and for Beatrice basketball, the tail end of the Orange win over York was pretty tough for me to watch. Not for Beatrice winning - all hail the Orange, one of Class B's great programs! - but for the way York star Ty Danielson struggled at key moments down the stretch. I like Ty a lot, he's a great kid who has done so many great things for that school and program, but it was Beatrice's day - and today might be too, especially if the game comes down to great defense.
All that aside, if you're looking for somebody in Beatrice black to pat on the back, consider sophomore Alec Cromer, who dominated the end of the game, including a game-saving block with :02 left at the end of regulation.
FINAL: Beatrice (22-2) vs. Omaha Skutt (21-6), 1 p.m. Everybody in a state final is dealing with emotional drain after two days of battle, especially these teams, Beatrice for lasting through two OTs and Skutt laying it on the line against unbeaten Elkhorn South. (BTW, I had a 10-year-old kid tell me yesterday he was from Elkhorn North, which was sort of funny.)
Defense wins championships, right? Winner: Beatrice.
FRIDAY: Like an opera diva clearing her throat before singing an aria - and you thought this all just about sports - Wahoo used its Thursday miracle win against Falls City as a springboard to beat Wayne on Friday and move into today's final.
The Warriors are back to defend yet another state title - make that nine in the modern era, though word has it Justin Anderson was a star on that 1926 championship team - and guess who's coming to dinner?
The Cavaliers outlasted an outstanding Columbus Scotus team in overtime, 67-65, to give us a dream final. Two great teams, their campuses separated by mere blocks, having not played this season until this morning. Gee, I wonder if Bishop Neumann head coach Mike Weiss will be animated for this morning's game? In a word, probably. (I get exhausted myself, watching him work...)
FINAL: Wahoo (22-5) vs. Bishop Neumann (21-6), 9 a.m. At the risk of upsetting my boy, Tyler Kavan (Tyler, what am I thinking now?), well, I've been thinking Neumann would get to this place all season long. And with my record I'm helping both teams by picking for Neumann and against Tyler's alma mater. Winner: Neumann.
FRIDAY: Doniphan-Trumbull qualified as a wild card, battled key injuries down the stretch, and gave it a go but came up just short, in another overtime, as pre-tournament favorite Archbishop Bergan beat the Cardinals, 58-55. Bergan has all the pieces - speedy and athletic guards, a great post in Adam Dykman - and could put it all together for a championship win.
Ainsworth came to town gunning and has shot its way into its first final since that magical championship season of 2007, averaging 70 points per game, which in today's pushing-and-shoving world of basketball seems like a hundred back in the day.
FINAL Ainsworth (25-2) vs. Archbishop Bergan (23-3), 4:30 p.m. After a quick between sessions break across the street from Pinnacle, folks will be entertained to as much fun as any one game will hold today. Look out Bergan, here comes
FRIDAY: What was going to be Jesse Faltys's moment in the sun turned out to be his darkest hour, same for his Howells-Dodge team. Faltys, a burly, powerful guard, tied the game with Overton with a clutch three-pointer at the nine-second mark of regulation only to have Hayden Cahoy turn out the lights on the defending champs.
Cahoy took the ball, did his Danny Ainge impersonation, got off a shot and made it at the buzzer, giving Overton a thrilling 41-39 win and a berth in the D-1 final. Another great moment at Devaney and a lifetime memory maker for Cahoy, no doubt.
One more hill to climb for the Eagles, though, and it won't be easy as Randolph, which upset Howells-Dodge in the district finals emerged from the other side of the bracket. Randolph earlier beat Overton's arch rival, Elm Creek, in the first round and then put away a 2014-15 early line favorite, Clearwater/Orchard in the semis, 49-39.
FINALS:Liked Overton from the time the brackets came out, like how the Eagles are playing, like them to win today. Winner: Overton.
Seems like we sort of played the D-2 state tournament for nothing, as we are right back to the district finals, with High Plains Community and Bancroft-Rosalie facing each other in the last game of the season.
A couple of things: 1. I thought this could happen, these teams in a rematch, especially after High Plains outlasted Exeter-Milligan in the first round; 2. Bancroft-Rosalie, which went stone cold in the second half of the district final loss, has to absolutely love the idea of a rematch.
Lots of great scorers in this game, let's hope they get out and run instead of being locked in a defensive struggle.
FINALS: Bancroft-Rosalie (25-4) vs. High Plains Community: (27-1), 8:45 p.m. First time ever for High Plains Community in a state basketball final, though Hordville won a couple of state titles in the 1980s. We say they get another one tonight. Winner: High Plains Community.