Some thoughts about the wild card races in Class C-1 through D-2 girls basketball, while cooling my jets at the state wrestling tournament...
First of all, let me say I love the state wrestling tournament,especially the first day, with all its buzz and high hopes for all. I wish I had more time to devote to covering the sport but with all my other responsibilities I just don't.
That said, tonight's championship semifinals will be the two more dramatic hours of the high school sports year, no doubt about it. (As an aside, from what planet did Millard West's Harrison Phillips come from, anyway? He doesn't look like the rest of the high school kids...)
Back to the basketball...
Class C-1: Biggest news from last night was Norfolk Catholic's 49-47 upset of Pierce, the No. 5 team in the wild card standings. You had to know something like this could happen, with NC's vast advantage in (winning) postseason experience.
Also of note, though no real surprise, was No. 2 Kearney Catholic's 72-48 victory over No. 4 Minden. With No. 2 St. Cecilia a big favorite over Wood River in their district final that leaves the C1-2 between No. 3 Fillmore Central and No. 10 Wahoo as the swing game in this class.
Fillmore has had a brilliant season, 21 wins, but Wahoo has been around the postseason block and will be a difficult district final opponent. Outside of Fillmore County there won't be bigger fans of the program than those in Pierce, who need a Fillmore win to qualify.
Class C-2: In another upset that really wasn't so much, No. 6 North Platte St. Pat's won the rubber game of a three-match set with rival Hershey, 48-43, leaving the No. 3 Lady Panthers a likely wild card qualifier.
Back in the east, both unbeaten No. 1 Crofton and No. 4 Homer won their subs, setting up the best district final in this class. It would seem a good bet the loser of that game and Hershey are your wild cards. (Here we go again, Homer tangled up in a district final that determines the wild card...it seems to happen every year...)
Class D-1: Put the top three teams in the class in a single sub-district and even a guy like me can figure out what happens next. Howells-Dodge beat No. 1 and defending state champion Guardian Angels Central Catholic, 58-51 in overtime, to win the D1-5. That means Howells-Dodge will face a talented Emerson-Hubbard team in the district final, which it should win, opening the door for both GACC and No. 2 Pender to qualify as wild cards.
This is the wild card system at its best.
Class D-2:> No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart will need to shake the challenge of No. 6 Deshler in the district final - among Deshler's big wins this season was one over defending C-1 champion Sandy Creek - while No. 2 Wynot will face No. 5 Osmond in the D2-3 district final. Both higher ranked teams are favored but you never know...
Which brings us to the best district final of the bunch, No. 3 Humphrey v. No. 4 Lindsay Holy Family. These teams played way back in early December and Humphrey won it by four, 46-42. A similar barn burner would seem likely this time around.
Looks like the Humphrey-LHF loser and Osmond will be your wild cards in D-2.