From start to finish yesterday was one of the great Thursdays in boys state basketball history. At least according to me. From what I remember.
Six things immediately come to mind when my mind flashes back to tournament play yesterday:
1. Wahoo showed the heart of a champion, making a last-second play to force overtime before beating Falls City. That said, I don't know if I ever felt worse for a losing team than I did Falls City.
But waking up today and finding out you're Gavin Iversen had to be pretty sweet.
Wahoo's reward is getting a rematch with Wayne, which it beat earlier in the year. This one could well determine the state title in C-1.
That is if either can find a way to slow then Neumann Express, which scored 90 - 90! - and made it look easy against defending state runner-up Boone. Yikes.
Of course for that to matter the Cavaliers will have to beat tournament No. 1 seed Columbus Scotus which put up 72 of its own while dispatching Kearney Catholic.
First team to 80 wins?
2. Omaha Central lost. Didn't know if that would ever happen again at a state tournament. Oh, and are Norfolk and Omaha South done yet?
Norfolk and Bellevue West will be as fun as any game today, if Norfolk has any sort of legs left and Bellevue West can come down off Cloud Nine following the upset of four-time defending champ Central.
So then, Huskerland Bob, how can it be Benson-Westside becomes, what, like a warm up band?
3. Best final four in any class? Gotta be in D-2, where High Plains Community survived a rematch with Exeter-Milligan and will face 2013 state runner-up Spalding/Spalding Academy in one semi, with Bancroft-Rosalie and Falls City Sacred Heart. Cream rises to the top...there was a lot of chatter about the winner of High Plains v. Exeter-Milligan finishing the weekend as D-2 state champ.
Wonder what they make of that in Spalding?
4. York-Beatrice III might not be the Thrilla in Manila but it will provide us with great drama in the Class B semifinals. Elkhorn South didn't appear at all overwhelmed by the thought of trying to finish the season unbeaten but you know Skutt will be a special kind of challenge for Matt Thomas and Co.
5. A couple of upsets marked the top half of the Class D-1 bracket. The basket sealed tight on one-loss North Platte St. Pat's, as the Irish offense went into a funk and they were sidelined by an exciting, young Clearwater/Orchard team. The sight of sophomore Andy Kerkman walking off the court, his arms raised, trying to look all sorts of fierce before his face gave way to a big ol' grin was high school sports at its best.
Elm Creek hadn't qualified for the boys state tournament since 2004 and only once since 1975 but came out of the gates looking sure of itself against Randolph. Thing is, Randolph took the best the Buffs had to offer and pushed it aside, grinding out a 41-39 win.
Somewhere, Lyle Nannen is smiling.
BTW, Howells-Dodge has fielded a varsity basketball team for the state tournament and will receive its most stern test of its attempt to repeat this morning, facing red-hot Overton. Somebody better guard Tanner Ryan, just sayin'...
6. Wanted to see Ainsworth play, that was sort of a goal of mine, and wasn't disappointed. While erratic at times the Bulldogs are athletic and every possession feels like something spectacular could happen. They managed to put plucky Battle Creek on the shelf and now face Freeman, which withstood 28 points by Michael Daum to beat the pride of the Panhandle, Kimball.
Doniphan-Trumbull gained revenge for its district loss to Sutton, pulverizing the Mustangs on defense, holding them to 27 points. The Cardinals get Archbishop Bergan, which withstood a strong start by defending state runner-up Southern Valley and pulled away to victory. Bergan still looks like a state title team to me...
Like former MLB slugger Mike McGwire I am not here to talk about the past...at least any more than I already have...let's play some state semifinals basketball, OK?!