WATCHING ON TV AND THAT’S OK — Could have taken the press pass and rolled right down to Lincoln this weekend to watch some state boys basketball.
But, there was this little thing in me that said, it might be just as fun to put it on the old laptop, catch a radio stream in the office and sit back and enjoy it that way.
While it’s not the excitement of being there, it was a new kind of fun and today shapes up to be one of the greatest finals days in recent memory. So many great story lines and while there will be a precious few there to document it for you the nice part is, hey, kids are going to get on Sports Center today.
We seem a million miles away from Wednesday, when, looking back now, the NSAA (hands tied), the City of Lincoln and the Lancaster County Health Department eliminated spectators from this state tournament due to the COVID-19 virus.
It might have saved the tournament.
In nearby states — Kansas, Wyoming and Colorado — tournaments were cancelled never to be played. Kansas and Wyoming started with fans, Colorado lost facilities. A few states still carry on with limited spectators.
Even Thursday, when NCAA college conference tournaments were being ended left and right you thought, maybe, we’d not get to this place — Saturday morning at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The Health Department continued to say that games could go on were there no changes in our state.
As we head to the finals, there is still only one confirmed case in Nebraska and 13 presumptive positive cases. So, we carry on.
There will be NET (there was NCN for two days, thanks to Mike Flood and a greedy, greedy NFHS Network), there will be hype videos from my friends at Striv Sports, and there will be basketball.
Let’s enjoy it. Here’s what you have ahead.
9:00 | Class D-1 | No. 3 Laurel-Concord-Coleridge v No. 5 Southern Valley: The Eagles have won two that most people didn’t expect them to against Osmond and No. 1 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family behind the gritty play of Clayton Berry and Jaden Quinn. As for LCC? You get to watch just the second player in Nebraska history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, Noah Schutte.
11:00 | Class C-1 | No. 1 Auburn v No. 5 Ogallala: Auburn has won 31 in a row and if they won C-1 by surprise last year, this one is certainly a little more expected. Cameron Binder has been fantastic in the tournament and the Bulldogs are going to be the Bulldogs. Ogallala with a pair of gritty wins, avenging a loss to Kearney Catholic and then getting defensive against Adams Center 47-35 yesterday. Surprisingly, they have played already — 73-68 win for Auburn at the Heartland Hoops Classic.
1:00 | Class B | No. 1 Omaha Skutt v No. 2 Omaha Roncalli: Not much to say here. Sit back and enjoy Tyson Gordon and Jackson Dotzler playing a game against each other for the last time. Two winners who make the people around them better. Earlier this year? Skutt 63-42 and then 45-44 in the River Cities final.
4:30 | Class D-2 | No. 1 Humphrey St. Francis v No. 2 Falls City Sacred Heart: The top-ranked Flyers going for a perfect football, basketball double behind the Pfeifer’s (Tanner and Trevor). The Irish have lost two games this year: to Auburn in basketball and to the Flyers in the Class D-2 football semifinals. Can Tyler Witt and his buddies turn the table?
6:30 | Class A | No. 2 Millard North v No. 3 Bellevue West: Isn’t this the one we all wanted? Hunter and Chucky. Chucky and Hunter. But, oh, those guys around them who might make all the difference. We could go on and on about how special these two teams are, but how about you read Sam McKeown instead.
8:30 | Class C-2 | No. 1 BRLD v No. 2 Grand Island Central Catholic: The winning streak is now at 51 for Lucas Vogt and the Wolverines and a win today against the Crusaders would move them to 6th on the all-time list. GICC will be as prepared as anyone and they survived their way to Saturday with a tough-as-nails 47-46 win over Yutan on Isaac Herbek’s free throw with no time left. In triple overtime.