Class C-2 Wild Card Top Ten
1. Ainsworth (20-2), 46.1364
2. Doniphan-Trumbull (20-3), 45.6957
3. Southern Valley (21-2), 45.2174
4. Freeman (20-4), 44.9583
5. Archbishop Bergan (18-3), 44.9524
6. Ravenna (19-4), 44.8696
7. Hastings St. Cecilia (17-5), 44.6364
8. Winnebago (22-3), 44.6000
9. Kimball (19-3), 44.4091
10. Yutan (19-4), 44.3913
Close your eyes and just imagine it...you can see it happening, you really can...Southern Valley vs. Doniphan-Trumbull playing for the Class C-2 boys state championship, the game taking place at center stage in the sparkling new Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln.
And it could happen. Of course it would mean that one of those teams, maybe both, would make it to state as wild card(s).
See, both of them are in the C2-8 subdistrict. And so is Hastings St. Cecilia, which could easily be considered as the favorite to win the whole thing. Subdistrict I mean, but I could be talking about the state tournament, too.
Over the weekend Doniphan-Trumbull (20-3) and defending Class C-2 state champion Southern Valley (21-2) held steady at No. 2 and No. 3 in the Class C-2 wild card but St. Cecilia, despite winning its only game, dropped from fifth to seventh. Seems like St. Cecilia will need to win out to make it to state, which could happen.
"This sub-district is definitely as good as any in the state this year. We know we will have to play two great basketball games to get the opportunity to advance and we are preparing accordingly," says Doniphan-Trumbull head coach Steve Hartman. "If we are fortunate enough to get by Blue Hill, we will face a very talented team in either Southern Valley or St. Cecilia. They each present different challenges, but both are well coached and very sound at what they do on both ends of the floor."
Adding drama to C2-8 is the possibility No. 1 Ainsworth, 20 wins or no 20 wins, will have its hands full with likely district opponent Hartington Cedar Catholic, a 15-7 team tested by on scheduled loaded with C-1 teams, good C-1 teams. My math isn't great but if No. 1 loses and No. 2 faces No. 3 that means, well, No. 2 or No. 3 won't be going to the state tournament.
Hmm. Postseason. Just win, baby.
Back to Southern Valley and Doniphan-Trumbull; what a remarkable, unfortunate, fantastic pairing in the subdistrict opener, a game featuring two of the top three teams in the class, wild card wise. If you want to find some common ground, let's choose Grand Island Central Catholic; Doniphan-Trumbull beat the Crusaders by two points, Southern Valley turned the trick by 10.
Look for this game to be played like the state final we spoke of earlier because there is a real possibility the loser will have played its last game of the season.
As for St. Cecilia, which will most likely need to win 'em all to reach Lincoln, head coach Kevin Asher believes his team is prepared for the gauntlet which lies ahead.
"I feel we have played well throughout the season as our young team learns the rigors and challenges each week brings," says Coach Asher. "We feel we have had a challenging road throughout the regular season playing in the Centennial Conference and a non-conference schedule that was equally strong. That is all behind us now and has built us into a stronger team."
Fitting all the best teams in Class C-2 into a state tournament bracket has never been harder, I'd imagine. Projected C2-8 Winner: St. Cecilia.
Here is a quick look at the other C-2 subdistricts, which enter semifinal round play tonight, with the finals on Thursday.
C2-1 at Norris High School: Freeman (20-4, No. 4 in wild card) is your favorite, its two trophy wins coming at the expense of D-2 power Falls City Sacred Heart, with its losses coming to 22-1 High Plains, C-1 Lincoln Christian (16-6), C-1 Johnson County Central (15-8) and potential district final opponent Yutan (19-4). FYI, Freeman beat No. 1 seed Palmyra (9-13) by 33-21 in the season opener. Projected Winner: Freeman.
C2-2 at Raymond Central: Speaking of Yutan (19-4, No. 10 in the wild card), the Chieftains beat Freeman 62-59 back in early December and you should know three of their losses have come to C-1 teams, the others to 18-3 Bergan. Projected Winner: Yutan.
C2-3 at Wisner-Pilger: Speaking of Bergan - funny how that works - the Knights have to be happy Columbus Scotus isn't part of this sub, as they've lost to the Shamrocks twice, as well as Hartington Cedar Catholic, but has also beaten Neumann, a team many consider the best in Class C-1. Guardian Angels Central Catholic (8-15) may not have curb appeal but played Bergan within 10 points, 63-53, back before Christmas. Projected Winner: Bergan.
C2-4 at Wayne: Winnebago is 22-3, No. 8 in the wild card and has won 15 of its last 16 games, the lone loss coming to D-2 powerhouse Bancroft-Rosalie. Second seeded Homer (12-9) lost to Winnebago 70-43 on Opening Night. Winnebago also took Bergan into overtime before losing; this is a legit team. Projected Winner: Winnebago.
C2-5 at Norfolk Catholic: Until about two weeks ago this appeared to be Stanton's sub to win but that was before the 16-7 Mustangs were beaten by 13-10 Clarkson/Leigh on Feb. 13. Making the waters even murkier is the fact Lutheran High Northeast (11-11) has beaten Clarkson/Leigh. Projected Winner: Stanton.
C2-6 at Central City: Top seed Twin River (18-6) has struggled lately, losing five of its last 11, and figures to be challenged by 11-10 Centennial in the final. Projected Winner: Twin River.
C2-7 at Fillmore Central, Geneva: Sutton started 2-5 but since has won 12 of 16 games and has twice beaten second seed Thayer Central (10-10), once by 13, once by 10. Projected Winner: Sutton.
C2-9 at Wausa: Here is the, well, wild card in the wild card. Cedar Catholic is 15-7 but like we said all those losses are to C-1 teams, not a slug among them, and the Trojans have also beaten 20-win Wayne. Remember, Crofton (12-9) snuck into last year's state tournament with a hot district tournament so the Warriors can't be overlooked, nor can 13-7 Creighton. But Cedar should win this. Projected Winner: Cedar Catholic.
C2-10 at O'Neill: Look, all this speculation isn't meant to demean the achievements of Ainsworth boys basketball again in 2013-14. The Bulldogs have won 20 times, earned the No. 1 standing in the wild card and will be heavy favorites to win this subdistrict. Playing up most nights, the Bulldogs have played only three games against Class C-2 competition, including a 83-57 win over subdistrict semifinal foe Neligh-Oakdale back on Dec. 17. Projected Winner: Ainsworth.
C2-11 at Broken Bow: Ravenna (19-4, No. 6 in the wild card) has played a testing schedule but what matters most is that just last Friday the Bluejays had to go the distance before holding off second seed Ord, 52-48. Projected Winner: Ravenna.
C2-12 at Sidney: Top seed Kimball is 19-3 but only No. 9 in the wild card standings, so the Longhorns will need to win their way back to Lincoln. Doing so will take yet another win over a very good Bridgeport team (17-4), a trick Kimball has turned two of the three previous times those teams have played this season. Third man in the ring is 15-win Dundy County, a good team that will be an underdog to either Kimball or Bridgeport. Projected Winner: Kimball.