Check the records in the boys and girls rankings around the state and you’ll see some teams haven’t had the luxury of playing quite as many games as they have wanted.
There is an outlier, however.
The Class C-1, No. 2 Adams Central boys team is 12-1 after a 59-52 win at Elkhorn North on Tuesday night. And, coach Zac Foster doesn’t mince many words when he said he’s been looking forward to the 10 days off his Patriots have now before they host Northwest next Friday.
“To be honest, we have really been looking forward to this break,” Foster said. “At the beginning of the school year, we were hoping to get 2-3 football games in, so to be where we are, we are grateful.
“We knew at the beginning of the season with our schedule it was going to be a big challenge for us. It feels like most of our practices have been for game prep, so it will be nice to work on getting better these next few days.”
In winning 12 in a row after an opening loss to Aurora, the Patriots have seen the whole state. Consider they have wins over Gering, Chase County, Winnebago and the new Elkhorn North. Just two teams in that stretch have hit the 50-point mark against the Patriots who mixed man and an effective match-up zone defense on their opponents.
And, the Patriots expected all of it after last year’s 26-2 campaign ended in the state semifinals and they followed that up with a run to the state football championship game this fall.
“Just a great bunch of kids,” Foster added, “and we feel good about where we are at. We had three full practices before that first game with Aurora and, to be honest, that was a good thing for us. First, because they have a really, really good team and second, because it humbled us and got us focused right away.”
Adams Central has done it with balance — six players have led the team in scoring — and senior leadership. Tyler Slechta is a 3-year starter while fellow seniors Lucas Bohlen, Cam Foster and Dante Boelhower all started a season ago.
Foster has all the adjectives out for each of them, but would rather you know about the whole first. The Patriots have 11 players who have played in at least 11 games and are averaging more than 10 minutes played.
“When we are at our best, it’s not about any one player,” Foster said. “Our recipe has been playing together, really passing the ball well and playing great defense. Our collective whole is our strength.”
But, it’s equally fun to see and hear the smile when describing the seniors who have been to state the past two seasons.
On Slechta: “The best defender I have ever coached and I think the best defender in the class this year. Leads us in rebounds and assists and is really a coach on the floor. He can control a game without scoring.”
The sharp shooting Bohlen: “Leads us in scoring and 42% for 3s on the year. He can really extend the floor.” He notes that Lucas hit 7-for-8 from long distance against Elkhorn North.
On Boehlhower: “A real unsung hero for us. An intangible guy who does a lot of things that aren’t on the stat sheet. He replaced a great player (Gavin Lipovsky) at the top of our zone. We say if Gavin was a 2k 100-rating there, Dante isn’t far off — a 95 kind of guy.”
And, on his son, Cam: “He obviously got some recognition last year (second-team all-state), but just really proud of how he has improved his overall game this year. He’s passing the ball really well and wants this team to succeed.”
Mix in fifth starter Jacob Eckhardt — “a real glue guy” — and St. Cecilia transfer Paul Fago and Foster feels like he has another team built for late February and March basketball.
But, first, a much needed break.
Nebraska Girls Showcase
Broken Bow coach Kelly Cooksley is a big advocate for girls basketball as you can find in the state. So, his idea for the Nebraska Girls Basketball Showcase that will be Saturday in Broken Bow was a kind of no-brainer.
“We wanted to get an event that would be 5-6 games in one place that would really showcase the great talent we have for girls basketball in our state,” said Cooksley, whose unbeaten Indians will face Oakland-Craig in the final game on Saturday at 5:00 PM.
Originally a six-game slate that was to be hosted by Nebraska-Kearney, changes were made to accommodate the event at Broken Bow as the Lopers were not able to host because of Covid precautions.
Instead, Kearney Catholic will now travel to North Platte and Kearney High will host Garden City, KS while the other four games will be at Broken Bow.
The other games in Broken Bow on Saturday are as follows: Class C-1, No 8. Adams Central vs. Class D-1, No. 1 Pleasanton (11:00 AM); Class C-2, No. 7 North Central vs. Class C-1, No. 4 Malcolm (1:00 PM); Class C-1 Louisville vs. Class D-2, No. 4 Mullen (3:00 PM).