It was quite the run in last week's state tournament for the Southern Valley boys, who won it all in just their second ever state appearance in school history.
Southern Valley started their run with a come from behind, 41-34 win over Lutheran High Northeast in the first round on Thursday.
The Eagles were led by Kucera who scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Best scored 9 points including 4 in overtime to help the Eagles to the win.
The Eagles knew they would have a pretty good team this year, but I'm not sure anyone could have predicted this.
It just shows that hard work, dedication, perseverance, and resiliency pays off. I was very impressed by the play of Kucera, both in the Freeman game and against Sutton.
He played under control Saturday, and didn't let his emotions get the best of him. The Mustang faithful was trying to get into his head, but he blocked it out and led his team to the title.
Hats off to Best, Quinn, Alex Kaup, and Dylan Brooks as well. The Eagles couldn't of done it without them.
Also part of this 2013 state championship team were Jeremiah Perkins, Alan Varela, Seth Miller, Chance Best, Tom Hoxmeier, Dalton Best, Jacob Kramer, Michael Longsine, and Dalten Hansen.
The latter, along with Kucera and Dakota Best, are gone, but everyone else returns.
Winning the state championship is the absolute best feeling in the world, and I'm sure the Eagles are sky high right now.
This was truly a dream come true for the players, coaches, parents, and fans.
But Southern Valley will eventually have to get back to work to try and defend their state title. I wouldn't doubt if the Eagles try and push the ball up the floor more next year with Kucera graduating.
The Eagles will be a rather small team in 2013-2014, so will need to rely on solid guard play to have another successful season.
But the rest of that discussion is for another day as the Southern Valley Eagles are your 2013 Boys Basketball State Champions!
A great run came to an end for the Arapahoe boys in the first round of the state tournament on Thursday as the Warriors lost 60-57 to eventual runner-up Paxton.
It was tough sledding for the Minden girls in last Thursday night's first round state tournament game against Pierce, who handed the Whippets a 59-36 defeat.
Things were close early on with the Bluejays leading just 14-10 after one. But things got away from Minden in the second quarter as Pierce outscored the Whippets 18-5 to go ahead 32-15 at the half.
The Whippets were unable to draw any closer by the start of the fourth quarter since both teams scored 13 points in the third.
Pierce won the final frame 14-8.
The Whippets were led in scoring by Brooke Kissinger, who totaled 16 points. Jamie Kissinger added 12.
Minden finishes 19-5 in a season that saw the Whippets reach state for the third year in a row.
Don't be surprised to see that number climb to four next year. The Whippets return both Kissingers, Rebecca Stewart, Ali Rowse, and more.
Gone are Alaina Boudreau and Sydney Stadler so Minden may not be as big on the inside next year, but may be able to play at an even faster pace than in the past.
Given the athleticism of the "Big 3" I wouldn't be shocked to Minden get out and run, run, run next season.
Teams like Pierce really hurt the Whippets in the half court, so a solid transition game is a one way to help make up the difference.
With Kearney Catholic graduating its top players, I think next year has a chance to be Minden's.
The Holdrege girls basketball team had four-time defending state champion Seward on the ropes last Thursday night in the first round of the Class B State tournament, but were unable to pull off the upset as the Bluejays hung on for a 50-43 overtime win.
The Dusters trailed 40-34 in the fourth quarter before going on an 8-0 run to take a 42-40 lead. The Bluejays eventually tied the game before Kourteney Zadina missed a left side jumper at the buzzer.
Rachel Jelden canned one of two free throws at the start of overtime to give the Dusters a 43-42 lead.
It would be the last point of the season for Holdrege though as Seward ended the game on an 8-0 run.
The Bluejays went ahead 12-7 in the first quarter before the Dusters closed the frame on a 4-0 run to make it 12-11 at the start of the second.
Holdrege also went on a 4-0 run to conclude the second quarter to pull within 2 at 21-19 at halftime after trailing 21-15.
Seward led 34-31 at the end of the third quarter. Holdrege outscored the Bluejays 11-8 in the fourth to force overtime.
Holdrege, who finishes the year 18-7 and ranked 6th in Class B, was led by Jelden, who notched 14 points.
It was the 11th and final season for head coach Trent Benjamin, who finished with a career record of 191- 70, leading the Dusters to 9 straight state tournament appearances.
3 times Holdrege made the semifinals, and 6 times they were beat in the first round.
Holdrege's last state tournament win was in 2011 when the Dusters hit a runner with four seconds left to beat Hailey Mandelko and Lexington 53-52.
The run Holdrege had under Benjamin is truly remarkable, but the way the Dusters got to state this year is what is most impressive.
The Dusters were down and out against Grand Island Northwest in the B-5 district final, but somehow, someway, found a way to win.
The Vikings ended up winning the state championship, showing Holdrege could play with anyone in the state.
The Dusters return a host of talent next season, including Jelden, Jamie Isaacson, Julianna Burr, Jenna Gillespie, and Gabby Gracia.
Maggie Nelson is the only player Holdrege graduates.
Whoever takes over as head coach will have lots of talent to work with next year. Northwest should be tough in B-5 again given their returning experience, but look for Holdrege to be right in the thick of things as well.
The Arapahoe boys basketball team punched its ticket to Lincoln last Tuesday night by beating Overton 67-60 in the D1-5 District Final at Cozad.
The Warriors used an 8-2 fourth quarter run to to hold off the Eagles.
Arapahoe was led by Stefan Milvanovic, who scored 24 points and was 8-9 from the foul line, including 4-4 down the stretch.
Wyatt Anderson had 22 points for Arapahoe as he scored 18 in the first half.
The Warriors trailed just once 46-45 midway through the third quarter in a game that was back and forth the whole night. Isaac Watson also was in double figures with 13.
Arapahoe (24-4) will try and do something it couldn't do its past two trips to state, win a game. The 6th seeded Warriors battle 3rd seeded Paxton (25-0) at 3:45 at Lincoln North Star today.
The Tigers appear to be coming back to Lincoln with a vengeance, having been upset by High Plains in the first round last year.
Paxton will look to try and smack Arapahoe in the mouth early, which is why the Warriors have to be prepared mentally and physically.
The Warriors are not going to win this game by running with the Tigers.
Like they did against Overton, Arapahoe has to slow down the pace, and pound the rock inside.
Milvanovic and Anderson must go off for the Warriors to win. In order to do that, the pair has to stay out of foul trouble.
Today's game will be carried on 93.1 the River KRVN FM. Pregame is slated for 3:35.
For only the second time in school history, Southern Valley is headed to state, having knocked off Hastings St. Cecilia 58-38 in the C2-5 district final at Gibbon last Monday night.
The Eagles jumped on the Bluehawks early, going ahead 11-3 at the end of one. Southern Valley led 31-16 at halftime after outscoring Hastings St. Cecilia 20-13 in the second quarter.
The third quarter saw both teams score 12 points. The Eagles put up 15 points in the fourth while the Bluehawks countered with just 10.
Spencer Kucera was a man amongst boys, scoring 28 points and ripping down 12 rebounds to earn a double-double. Hunter Quinn added 10 points.
Southern Valley, who is at state for the first time since 1999, battles Lutheran High Northeast in the battle of the Eagles at 3:45 Thursday at Lincoln High.
3rd seeded Southern Valley (21-3) has the better record, but 6th seeded Lutheran High Northeast (21-5) has more experience.
LHNE was runner-up last year to Ravenna.
The key for Southern Valley is to not let the atmosphere get to them. Teams who haven't been to state much or don't know what it's like there can get big eyes before the game.
Southern Valley has to treat this game as if it were on their home floor. The size of the gym, the amount of fans, and all other non basketball distractions cannot get to them.
Southern Valley must figure out a way to focus in on what they're doing and simply play their game.
If they do that, everything else will take care of itself. The game will be aired on KRVN.com "The Stream." Pregame is scheduled for 3:35.
An up and down season came to an end for the Kearney boys in last Monday night's 57-49 A-3 District final loss at Papillion-Lavista.
The 3rd seeded Bearcats and top seeded Monarchs were squared up at 12 at the end of one before Papillion-Lavista outscored Kearney 16-7 in the second quarter to take a 28-19 halftime lead.
The Monarchs won the third quarter 12-7 to go ahead 40-26 after three.
Kearney's 21-point fourth quarter effort wasn't enough as Papillion-Lavista countered with 17.
Jake Weis led the Bearcats with 14 points. Ben Clark notched 12 while Damien Austen added 10.
To reach the district final, Kearney had to go through Class A newcomer Lincoln Pius X, who they upended 70-63.
The second quarter was the biggest difference in the game as the Bearcats outscored the 2nd seeded Thunderbolts 15-10. Kearney led 27-22 at the half after things were tied up at 12 at the end of one.
Both teams scored 16 third quarter points. Kearney won a high scoring fourth quarter 27-25.
Weis had a game-high 18 points. Austen chipped in 16 while Ryan Cervantes and Brady Johnson totaled 14 and 10, respectively.
A district final loss to one of the top teams in Class A is certainly a respectable way for the year to end, but knowing they were so close has to motivate the Bearcats going into next season.
Gone are Weis and Cervantes, but back is Austen, Clark, Dakota Schriner, and Peyton Pocock.
This has to excite Kearney fans, who saw their team put together a respectable season. 14-12 is respectable given the experience they had coming back.
Kearney will be much more experienced next year. For the returning players, I think it's a matter of working on their all around games. I'm sure there are some things they could do to shoot better, get stronger, rebound, etc.
If everything goes as planned next year, I wouldn't be shocked to see Kearney back at state for the first time since 2008.
The Kearney girls were one quarter away from reaching last week's state tournament, but instead Millard West punched their ticket to Lincoln by stunning the Bearcats 54-53 in the A-2 District Final on Saturday, February 23rd on the Wildcats' home floor.
Kearney led 38-31 after three, but Millard West owned the fourth quarter 23-15.
The Wildcats outscored the Bearcats 11-5 in the second frame to go up 23-21 at halftime. Kearney responded by winning the third quarter 17-8.
The Bearcats went ahead 16-12 at the end of one.
Kelsey Wiemers paced Kearney with 20 points in her final game as a Bearcat. Kelsey Stithem recorded 12 while Gretchen Mak added 10.
Kearney earned a berth in the district final by knocking off North Platte 45-41 in the semifinals on Tuesday, February 19th.
With things tied up at 18 at the half, the Bearcats outscored the Bulldogs 15-12 in the third quarter to go up 33-30 at the end of three.
Kearney won the fourth quarter 12-11.
The Bearcats also outscored the Bulldogs by a point in the first quarter at 13-12 before North Platte returned the favor in the second quarter, 6-5.
Skyler Snider had 13 points to lead Kearney. Stithem notched 12.
Although they didn't make state, the Bearcats still had a fine season, going 16-10. Kearney won nine out of its last ten games prior to the Millard West loss.
That's a defeat that will sting for a while though as the Bearcats had the Wildcats beat.
But I think it's something that will motivate Kearney next season. The Bearcats are set to bring back Stithem, Payton Cudaback, Abby Ray, and Claire Sickler, among others.
Mak and Kendra Coslor are gone, in addition to Wiemers.
The latter will be sorely missed as she was really the catalyst of this year's team.
What it means is someone else will have to step up and take the reigns next year. I look for that to be Stithem.
I feel she's going to have a breakout year in 2013-2014.
That could go for the whole team. Don't be surprised if in a year from now we're talking about Kearney's season ending in the new Pinnacle Bank Arena.
The Kimball Longhorns improved to 20-1 on the year with a 51-40 victory over the Gothenburg Swedes in the boys C1-6 district final at Perkins County last Monday night.
The game was close throughout, but good free throw shooting and stout defense made the difference.
The Swedes were led in scoring by Logan Koehler with 17. Gothenburg finished the year 9-14.
Not the type of season record wise that some thought Gothenburg might have, but still respectable.
The Swedes played their best basketball at the end of the season, highlighted by the upset win over rival Cozad in the C1-11 subdistrict final.
Turnovers and the inability to handle the ball well at the guard spots ultimately proved to be Gothenburg's downfall though.
The good news is the majority of the guards are back next year, including Ross Ostendorf, Connor Schwanz, and Blake Ristine.
Ristine showed he could be deadly at times with that mid range jumper. If he can develop a drive game, he has the potential to be a lethal threat next season.
With Koehler graduating, it will be imperative junior to be Tanner Borchardt get help from his guards. Aaron Collins and Logan Sheets are also gone, so it won't be coming from either of them.
I think it has to be from the returning players listed above. They will be the most experienced players Gothenburg has, and must step up their games next season.
Ball handling needs to be a huge point of emphasis this offseason. Taking care of the rock will be very important for the Swedes next year.
The Bertrand boys came up two games short of reaching the state tournament as Anselmo-Merna got the best of the Vikings in the D2-9 Subdistrict final at Gothenburg on Saturday, February 23rd, winning 60-55.
It took a monster second half from top seeded Bertrand just to knock off 4th seeded Loomis in the semifinals four days earlier.
The Wolves used a 31-17 second quarter to pull ahead 42-30 at halftime. The Vikings closed within 3 at 49-46 after three by winning the third quarter 16-7.
The Vikings outscored the Wolves 21-16 in the fourth to earn the 67-65 victory.
Bertrand led 13-11 at the end of one.
I'm sure the Vikings expected to make it farther than the subdistrict final, but it was still a fine season nonetheless.
16-8 is nothing to be disappointed about.by any means.
The highlight of the year had to be winning 59-57 at Dundy County-Stratton on December 14th.
The win moved the Vikings to 6-0 on the season.
But oddly enough, Bertrand was never the same after that, going just 10-8 the rest of the way.
The Vikings finished the regular season strong, winning four out of their last five, but it wasn't enough to overcome their inconsistent play from the Pleasanton Holiday Tournament on.
I'm sure Bertrand is very disappointed they aren't playing in Lincoln this week, but I think that disappointment will motivate them next season.
I look for the returning players to really get after things in the offseason in hopes of making their dream come true next year. That dream being reaching the 2014 state tournament.
We will see what the 2013-2014 season has in store for Bertrand.
A difficult season came to an end for the S-E-M boys on Monday, February 18th as the Mustangs lost 55-34 to Arcadia in the Subdistrict D2-8 bunny bracket game at Wood River.
The 4th seeded Huskies took control early, going ahead 12-5 after one. Arcadia outscored 5th seeded S-E-M 10-4 in the second quarter to build a 22-9 halftime advantage.
S-E-M attempted to climb back in the game, winning the third quarter 17-15 to get within at 11 at 37-26 at the start of the fourth. But it wasn't meant to be as the Huskies put up an 18 spot in the final stanza, and held the Mustangs to 8.
Angel Boteo led S-E-M with 16 points.
The defeat marked the second loss of the season to Arcadia.
I'm sure a 1-16 season was not exactly what the Mustangs had in mind in November, but injuries and illness really prevented this team from reaching its full potential.
Transition periods are never easy, and that's what S-E-M learned in head coach Cody Whipkey's first year.
Hats off to seniors Chase Erwin, Joe Harshbarger, and Brian Guerra for battling hard all year long. They hadn't experienced losing of this magnitude in their first three years, and for them to stick it out to the end is a true testament to their character.
There's a lot of work to be done in the offseason for S-E-M. The Mustangs are set to bring back Boteo, Aaron Simmons, Darin Barth, Stetson Dittmar, Dalton Nichols, and Austin Jeffrey.
The latter three were freshmen this past season, and will only get better with another year to grow and develop.
Boteo and Simmons figure to provide the leadership this team needs.
Next year could still be somewhat of a struggle for S-E-M, but expect the Mustangs to be much more competitive in 2013-2014.
For the first time since 2007, the Minden boys won't be at the state tournament as Rylee Reinertson and Gibbon ended the Whippets' season last Tuesday night with a 53-37 win in the C1-9 Subdistrict semifinals at Grand Island Northwest.
3rd seeded Minden was down just 24-22 at the half, but 2nd seeded Gibbon put together a huge third quarter, outscoring the Whippets 19-7 to build a 43-29 advantage heading into the fourth.
Gibbon won the final frame 10-8.
Minden took an 11-10 lead at the end of one before the Buffaloes won the second quarter 14-11 to make up the halftime score.
RJ Watson led the Whippets with 16 points in his final game in a Minden uniform.
Minden, who finishes the year 12-11, also parts ways with Isaac Carlson, Ryan Chramosta, and Landon Lempka.
These four seniors have been big contributors to Minden's recent success. Their senior season may not have gone as well as they would of liked, but there are still memories to be taken from it, to go along with the past three years.
The highlight of this year has to be winning the Southwest Conference Tournament. The Whippets topped Ainsworth 73-55 in the championship game after upsetting Valentine 54-45 in the semifinals.
Minden lost by almost 30 to the Badgers earlier in the year.
I thought winning 6 out of their last 7 games would give the Whippets the momentum they needed to knock off the Buffaloes, but it was not to be.
Inconsistent play ultimately got Minden. The Whippets were never able to string together more than a three-game winning streak.
The lone loss for Minden in their last seven regular season games was to Cozad, who beat them 70-48.
If the Whippets had won that game and rolled into Subdistricts on a 7-game winning streak, things could have possibly been different.
But Gibbon certainly proved their worth, topping Kearney Catholic in the Subdistrict final and beating O'Neill in a district final to get to state.
Minden will be tall next year, but guard play could be interesting.
Jacob Choquett and Nic Werner appear to be two of their better returning guards, but who knows for sure after that.
There's lots of work to be done in the offseason for Minden. But if the Whippets can figure out their guard situation, I believe they have the big guys inside to compete with anyone.
Look for next season's Minden squad to be scrappy.
The Minden girls have new life after it appeared their season was over following a 72-48 loss to top ranked Kearney Catholic on Valentines Day in the C1-9 Subdistrict Final at Grand Island Northwest.
The Stars put a strangle hold on the game in the second quarter, outscoring the Whippets 26-10. Kearney Catholic led 38-24 at the break after Minden held a 14-12 edge at the end of one.
Kearney Catholic continued its dominance in the third quarter, doubling up Minden 18-9. The Stars won the fourth quarter 16-15.
Jamie Kissinger and Sydney Stadler had 12 points apiece to lead Minden. Freshman post Rebecca Stewart notched 11.
Minden (19-4) is the fourth seed in the state tournament and will battle 5th seeded Pierce (20-4) in Thursday's first round 8:45 p.m. match up at Pershing.
The Bluejays also got in on a wildcard after losing to rival Norfolk Catholic in Subdistricts.
The two teams have two common opponents, Boone Central/Newman Grove and Kearney Catholic. Pierce knocked off the Stars by 5 in Kearney on January 18th.
Both teams beat the Cardinals, although Minden won by 29, and the Bluejays by just 9.
With most 4 and 5 match ups at state, it's anyone's ball game. If Minden is to win, their "Big 3," Brooke and Jamie Kissinger, and Rebecca Stewart must shine.
The Whippets need to have their inside/outside game working early and often to be effective on offense. Minden has to get out to an early lead as they really can't afford to play from behind.
This is the third straight trip to the state tournament for Minden so if things are close I give the Whippets the upper hand.
This is the first state appearance for Pierce since 1995.
It was end to an era in the Holdrege boys basketball program Monday night as the Dusters lost 47-44 to Aurora in the B-5 District Semifinals at Grand Island.
3rd seeded Holdrege fell down early 13-5 at the end of the first quarter, but managed to grab the lead at half, 33-31, and led by two going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was back in fourth and 2nd seeded Aurora made a few more key plays than Holdrege as they pulled out the victory.
The difference in the game was at the foul line as Aurora was 12-16 while Holdrege was just 9-17.
The Dusters were led by Andrew Maaske who had 16 points, while Jared Karlson had 10.
Holdrege wraps up the season at 9-15. It was the final game for head coach Jerry Buck, who announced before the year that this would be his final year as head coach at the school. He led Holdrege to four state tournament appearances and one state runner up finish in 19 years as head coach.
Whoever the next coach is will have a lot to live up to. Buck certainly made his mark on the program, and is someone who will not soon be forgotten.
It's too bad Holdrege couldn't get by Aurora because I really think they could of beaten Northwest to reach the state tournament.
But it was still a solid finish to the season for the Dusters, who went 7-8 in their final 15 games after starting the year 2-7.
Holdrege's two biggest wins were over Northwest and Minden. Reason I say Minden is because the Dusters made a monster comeback to steal that game.
Lots of work lies ahead for the new coach, but I suspect we will still see the Dusters competitive for years to come.
For the 9th consecutive year, the Class B, No. 5 Holdrege girls are headed to the state tournament as the Dusters came back from 14 down in the second half of Friday night's B-5 District final to stun 6th ranked Northwest, 50-45.
It was a rough start for the 2nd seeded Dusters, who where held to just three points in the first quarter and trailed 24-14 at half.
They would eventually trail 30-16 midway through the third quarter before mounting the comeback.
Holdrege's first lead came at 39-38 and it was a back and forth game from that point on. Julianna Burr hit two free throws with 9 seconds left in the fourth to put the game away.
Head coach Trent Benjamin says it was a tale of two halves. "We had a tremendous fourth quarter, and that was enough to come away with a victory. Our first half we could do very little well, and it looked like at times we were going to get blown out of the water. However, we came out the second half and started having some success in the third, and the fourth everything fell into place. Northwest continued to overplay on Rachel (Jelden), and we were able to find the open players and convert. Defensively, our made shots allowed our press to get set up, and they struggled with it. I am so happy for this kids. They have worked very hard to get to this point. They could have easily given up, but they kept fighting and eventually things started to click. We get the opportunity to play Seward and hope the third time is the charm with them as well."
Jelden scored 19 of her 23 points after halftime to lead the charge for Holdrege. Jamie Issacson also had a big game with 14 points with 12 coming in the second half.
Holdrege avenged two losses earlier this season to Northwest. Its the 8th time in the last nine years that they have won the District title. The Dusters are now 18-6.
The Dusters opened up District play with Lexington last Wednesday, beating the Minutemaids 57-43 in Elm Creek.
Holdrege took control early, leading 20-7 after one. The Dusters made it a 47-31 game at the end of three after Lexington outscored them 11-7 in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 27-18 at the half.
Both teams scored 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Jelden had a monster game, scoring 20 points and ripping down 21 rebounds. Maggie Nelson added 17 points while Julianna Burr notched 11.
Holdrege, the 7 seed at the state tournament, will try and upset top ranked, second seeded, and four-time defending state champion Seward (22-3) in the first round at Devaney Thursday night.
The Bluejays and Dusters met twice during the regular season, with Seward winning 46-27 the first time, and 43-35 the second.
I don't think an upset is out of the question here. This is about as deep and wide open a Class B Girls State Tournament as I've ever seen.
The second half performance Holdrege had against Northwest was truly remarkable, and I wouldn't put it past Jelden and company to carry that momentum over to this game.
But if the Dusters are to pull off the upset, they'll have to slow down Nebraska recruit Hannah Tvrdy and Kourteney Zadina.
Zadina is 6'2, which should make for an interesting match up down low between her and Jelden, who stands at 6'0.
Jelden must be aggressive early and look to take it right at Zadina. The way you beat a top tier team like Seward is put their best players on the bench. If Holdrege can get Zadina in foul trouble early, it could be huge.
Seward goes 10 deep, so certainly has capable players off the bench, but no one as big and tall as Zadina.
Holdrege must have a big game from Jelden, and need to rebound well as a team to put themselves in a position to win.
I expect the Dusters to give it their all for 32 minutes and lay it all out on the line. I'll have the fortune of letting you know how it all unfolds. Game time is set for 7:00 Thursday with pregame at 6:50 on 93.1 the River KRVN FM.
The Class D-1, No. 7 Arapahoe boys rolled through last week's D1-10 Subdistrict Tournament at Southern Valley, pasting Southwest 85-42 in Tuesday night's semifinals, and blowing out Cambridge 71-38 in Saturday's moved final.
Arapahoe built an early lead against the Trojans, going up 21-12 after one. The Warriors won the second quarter 11-10 to take a 32-22 lead into the locker room.
The Warriors outscored the Trojans 15-8 in the third quarter to build a 47-30 advantage to start the fourth.
Arapahoe tripled up Cambridge 24-8 in the final frame.
Stefan Milvanovic poured in a team-high 23 points for the Warriors. Caden Weverka added 17 while Wyatt Anderson and Isaac Watson totaled 13 and 11, respectively.
The Warriors made really quick work of the Roughriders, getting out to a 31-8 lead at the end of one. Arapahoe outscored Southwest 21-6 in the second quarter to go ahead 52-14 at the break.
Arapahoe dominated the third quarter 23-7 to lead 75-21 at the end of three. Southwest won the fourth quarter 21-10.
Anderson paced the Warriors with 22 points. Gage Schutz notched 18 while Milvanovic scored 16. Weverka chipped in 11.
Arapahoe (23-4) tries to reach state by beating Overton (18-6) in Tuesday night's gigantic clash at Cozad.
It's imperative for the Warriors to pound the ball inside at every opportunity. Milvanovic gives Arapahoe the advantage down low with his 6'7 frame. Overton's tallest post player is 6'3 Tanner Ryan.
Arapahoe needs to try and get Ryan in foul trouble and force the Eagles to go to their bench. Caleb Ecklund is a solid post presence, but he is not Tanner Ryan.
To get the ball inside, the Warriors have to take care of the ball. Overton forced Alma into numerous turnovers in their Subdistrict final win over the Cardinals, which provided the difference.
The Eagles will look to get out and run at every opportunity, which means Watson and Weverka must prevent Overton from creating turnovers.
These two need to keep Matt Aten and Joel Shafer at bay. If the Warriors can do that, you have to figure they'll put themselves in a really good position to win.
Tempo will be critical. Arapahoe has to play at their pace, and not allow Overton to speed the game up.
The team that does the best job of enforcing their tempo will win the game, in my opinion. The contest will be aired on 93.1 the River KRVN FM. Game time is scheduled for 7:00. Pregame at 6:50.
The Arapahoe girls are headed to state for the first time since 2008 as the Lady Warriors beat Alma 52-36 in Friday night's D1-5 District Final at Bertrand.
With the score 28-23 at halftime, Arapahoe seized control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Alma 18-5 to lead 46-28 after three.
The Cardinals won the fourth quarter 8-6.
Kaylea Watson scored a team-high 19 points. Rochelle Wendland posted a double-double of 13 points and 19 rebounds. Carley Polston notched 13 points.
That's the kind of effort 8th seeded Arapahoe (22-5) needs if it hopes to upset top seeded Guardian Angels Central Catholic (22-3) in the first round of state on Thursday.
The Bluejays are as good as advertised, having only lost to defending C-2 state champion Crofton twice, and Howells-Dodge once.
Guardian Angels Central Catholic has beaten three C-1 state qualifiers in Pierce, Norfolk Catholic, and Wahoo.
It will be a tall order for Arapahoe to say the least.
But anything can happen at state. The Arapahoe boys know what it feels like to be a number one seed and lose to an 8, so there's no reason to think the Lady Warriors can't pull off the upset.
When you have a player like Kaylea Watson, you always have a chance. But I was really impressed with how Wendland and Polston stepped up against Alma.
Three players in double figures is not something Arapahoe's had a lot this year. And Wendland, 19 rebounds, that's what you call getting the job done.
She'll need to have a similar performance for the Lady Warriors to beat the Bluejays.
Arapahoe and Guardian Angels Central Catholic are set to do battle at 7:00 Thursday night. The game will be aired on AM 880 KRVN with pregame beginning at 6:50. The game is being played at Lincoln Northeast.
The Overton boys are one win away from a fourth straight trip to Lincoln as the Eagles topped Wilcox-Hildreth and Alma in last week's D1-9 Subdistrict tournament at Holdrege to advance to Tuesday night's D1-5 District Final against Class D-1, No. 7 Arapahoe.
The Class C-2, No. 3 Southern Valley boys basketball team showed why they are worthy of that ranking by rolling through Subdistrict C2-10 and into tonight's C2-5 District Final against Hastings St. Cecilia.
The top seeded Eagles opened up Subdistrict play on Tuesday, beating 4th seeded Franklin 59-31 at Minden's CLJ Middle School.
Southern Valley took control in the second quarter by outscoring the Flyers 27-2. The Eagles led 37-8 at the half after winning the first quarter 10-6.
The Eagles extended their lead to 54-19 after three by winning the third quarter 17-11. Franklin won the fourth 12-5, but it was too little too late.
Spencer Kucera had a game-high 17 points. Hunter Quinn added 13 while Alex Kaup pitched in 10.
The win pitted Southern Valley against defending Class C-2 State Champion and 2nd seeded Ravenna in Friday's moved Subdistrict Final.
Southern Valley handled the Bluejays 56-36.
Just like the Franklin game, Southern Valley blew things open in the second quarter, turning a 7-all tie at the end of one into a 29-15 halftime advantage by winning the second frame 22-8.
Each squad put up 8 points in the third before Southern Valley outscored Ravenna 19-13 in the fourth quarter to seal the Bluejays' fate.
Dakota Best led all scorers with 14 points. Kucera notched 13.
Southern Valley (20-3) tries to win its way into the state tournament by taking out Hastings St. Cecilia (11-13) in tonight's C2-5 District Final at Gibbon.
The Bluehawks upset 8th ranked Doniphan-Trumbull in the C2-9 Subdistrict final and are looking to get back to state after a one year absence.
Southern Valley has a real solid chance to earn a wildcard should they lose, but I know the Eagles would love to knock off a second traditional power on their way to Lincoln.
I think tonight's game is going to be really interesting. Hastings St. Cecilia has upped its level of play here in the postseason, beating Blue Hill by 35 in their first Subdistrict game.
But Southern Valley has also raised its game. A 20-point win over Ravenna is no fluke. Not many teams can say they've knocked off a Paul Beranek coached team by that much.
The Eagles have something really special this season, they just need to finish the job to get to state.
The Bluehawks will come hard so we'll see how hard Southern Valley comes.
The Gothenburg boys punched their ticket to Monday's C1-6 District Final against Kimball by upsetting rival Cozad 52-49 in the C1-11 Subdistrict final at Lexington Wednesday evening.
Cozad got as close as one on a couple of occasions, but Gothenburg Senior Logan Koehler hit four straight free throws in the final minute to help seal the deal.
The Swedes must replace Munster, Taylor Wolf, Hanna Wolf, and Jacey Wiggins, but return Regan Geiken, Aryn Meisinger, Taylor Mroczek, and Emily Franzen, among others.
I think Gothenburg has a chance to be good again next year. Head coach Chris Lecher did a really good job with this team in his first season so I'm curious to see what the Swedes can do with a full year of his system under their belt.
Look for the Swedes to be a postseason factor again in 2013-2014.
The Lexington boys put up a fight with Hastings for a while in Saturday's District B-5 bunny bracket game at Grand Island.
Lexington did make a run as they got as close as eight as Brody Lauby hit a three pointer with 2:01 left in the fourth, but that is as close as the Minutemen would get.
The Lexington girls gave eventual District B-5 Champion Holdrege a game in Wednesday's moved semifinal contest at Elm Creek, but lost 57-43.
The first quarter was the difference in the game as the Dusters outscored the Minutemaids 19-7.
Lexington won the second quarter 11-8 to make it a 27-18 halftime lead for Holdrege.
The Dusters claimed quarter number three 19-13 to go up 46-31 after three. The Minutemaids won the fourth quarter 12-11.
The Loomis boys gave it their best shot in Subdistricts, but the season ended Tuesday for the Wolves as rival Bertrand squeaked out a 67-65 victory in the D2-9 semifinals at Gothenburg.
An upset was looking really promising at halftime for 4th seeded Loomis, who led 42-30. The Wolves outscored the Vikings 31-17 in the second quarter after falling behind 13-11 at the end of the first.
But the lead would get cut down to 3 to start the fourth quarter as top seeded Bertrand won the third 16-7. Loomis was unable to hold onto its 49-46 advantage to begin the final frame as the Vikings put up 21 points in the final 8 minutes, compared to 16 for the Wolves.
Kelly Thorell had a team-high 15 points for Loomis. Matt Gray notched 12 while Shane Sundquist and Josh Earsom added 10 apiece. Earsom recorded 10 rebounds to earn a double-double.
To get into Tuesday's semifinals, the Wolves had to get past 5th seeded Eustis-Farnam in the bunny bracket game on Monday. Loomis did just that, knocking off the Knights 80-56.
The game was much closer than the final score, however. Loomis only led 51-48 at the end of three before outscoring Eustis-Farnam 29-8 in the fourth quarter to pull away.
Each team scored 17 third quarter points after the Wolves were ahead 34-31 at the half.
Eustis-Farnam won the second quarter 18-15 after Loomis was up 19-13 at the end of one.
Josh Taylor led the way with 21 points. Gray added a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Thorell and Sundquist scored 13 each.
This year was what you would call a rebuilding year for Loomis, who went 9-12. But the Wolves can proudly say they saved their best for last. The Wolves went 5-2 in their last seven games.
Loomis loses some intrical pieces, but returns some key contributors as well.
The Wolves say goodbye to Gray, Earsom, Sundquist, and Lane Asp, but welcome back Thorell, Taylor, and Evan Dow, among others.
Next year could be another interesting one for Loomis as it appears they'll be relatively young again.
How far this team goes next season depends on the commitment and development of the players from now until November.
There's a lot of pride and tradition in this program, and to get back to an elite level, the Wolves are going to have to work.
The players are very capable, they just have to put their minds to it. We'll see how Loomis fairs in 2013-2014.
The season came to a disappointing end for the Loomis girls basketball team on Tuesday, February 12th as the Wolves were defeated by Eustis-Farnam for a second time this season, 47-38 in the D2-9 Subdistrict semifinals at Gothenburg.
The second quarter really hurt top seeded Loomis as 4th seeded Eustis-Farnam claimed the frame 15-8 to pull ahead 22-16 at the half.
The Knights won the third and fourth quarters, 11-10, and 14-12, to seal Loomis's fate.
The Wolves led 8-7 at the end of one.
Paige Thorell scored a team-high 13 points. Brooke Thorell chipped in 10.
Loomis has to be very disappointed about how the season ended, but has to be extremely proud of what they accomplished over the course of it.
A 16-4 season is very good, and when these girls look back on the body of work, they'll agree.
Loomis posted wins over D-1 State Qualifiers Arapahoe and Sutherland. The Wolves also knocked off Alma and Axtell, both of whom reached district finals.
But Eustis-Farnam simply had Loomis's number, using a slower paced, half court offense to work for good shots. You could say the Knights put the Wolves in a funk the first time they played them.
Loomis went just 2-2 following the loss.
The Knights weren't afraid to grind, and that's what ultimately cost the Wolves.
Not that Loomis backed down or anything, but Eustis-Farnam simply played better.
If anything the two losses to the Knights are things to build on going into next year. Losing to Eustis-Farnam will allow Loomis to go back and look at what they need to do differently against teams who play at a slower pace.
The end to the season is something that should motivate Loomis next year. Look for the Wolves to be back in the thick of things in 2013-2014.
The season came to a screeching halt for the Cozad boys Thursday night as Gothenburg upset the Haymakers 52-49 in the C1-11 Subdistrict final at Lexington.
Cozad got as close as one on a couple of occasions, but Gothenburg senior Logan Koehler hit four straight free throws in the final minute to help seal the deal.
It wasn't the conclusion to the season Elm Creek was expecting as Alma upset the Buffaloes 50-41 Tuesday night in the D1-9 Subdistrict semifinals at Holdrege.
The Elwood boys basketball team's bid to reach the D1-10 Subdistrict final fell short as Cambridge downed the Pirates 63-46 in Tuesday night's semifinals at Southern Valley.
The 2nd seeded Trojans grabbed a hold of the game early, taking a 20-13 lead after one. Cambridge also led by 7 at the break as each team put up 11 second quarter points.
Cambridge outscored 3rd seeded Elwood 16-11 in the third and fourth quarters to pull away for the win.
Skyler Werger finished with a team-high 15 points for the Pirates. Zack Hackbart added 13.
The end to the season had to be kind of disappointing for Elwood, who dropped its final four games. The Pirates played their best basketball in the early to middle part of the season, but weren't able to sustain a consistent level of play down the stretch.
Elwood loses starters Spencer Gydesen and Shad Wellman to graduation, but return key starters in Werger and Hackbart.
Jacob Schmeeckle is also back next year, and I think these three have the ability to provide a pretty lethal threesome for the Pirates offensively.
Blake Summer was a solid contributor this season as well and should help bolster the Pirates' inside game next year.
Billie Smith figures to see more playing time next season, but Elwood needs to build some depth in the offseason.
If the Pirates can develop a few players to come off the bench and be valuable contributors in 2013-14, it could be a pretty good year.
The season ended Monday for the Eustis-Farnam boys basketball team, who lost 80-56 to Loomis in the bunny bracket game of the D2-9 Subdistrict at Gothenburg.
The 4th seeded Wolves used a 29-8 fourth quarter to pull away from the 5th seeded Knights, who trailed just 51-48 entering the final frame.
Eustis-Farnam also trailed by three at the half as each team scored 17 points in the third quarter.
The Knights outscored the Wolves 18-15 in the second period to make the halftime score 34-31 in favor of Loomis.
The Wolves led 19-13 after one.
Jordan Wetovick notched a team-high 21 points in his final game as a Knight. Fellow senior Hunter Ringenberg added a dozen.
Eustis-Farnam finishes the season 3-17, which is an improvement over last year.
The Knights went 1-19 in 2011-2012.
Progress was certainly made as all of Eustis-Farnam's losses last year were by double digits. The Knights had three losses by single digits this year.
This was still a very young team with Eustis-Farnam only having three seniors. The Knights say goodbye to Wetovick, Ringenberg, and Dustin Koch, all of whom will be missed.
Look for Hunter Johnson and Austin Boller to shoulder more of the load next season.
Boller came on nicely at the end of the year, putting up some impressive stats in a few regular season contests. Johnson also showed flashes of having the ability to score double digits on a consistent basis.
Development, like it is every year, will be important for all returning players.
Defense has to be a focal point in the offseason.
Eustis-Farnam allowed over 50 points in every single one of their defeats this year and gave up 60 or more in 14 of the 17.
Shooting has to be a point of emphasis for the Knights as well, but they are a little more advanced offensively, having scored over 50 points eight times this season.
Improvement in all areas will help make Eustis-Farnam a much improved team in 2013-2014.
The Holdrege boys look to make some noise in District B-5 after surpassing Hastings at the last moment for the number three seed. The Dusters, who just beat Aurora in the second to last game of the regular season, will be battling the 2nd seeded Huskies in Monday night's semifinals.
Holdrege went 2-2 in its last four regular season contests, beating Central City and Aurora, but losing to St. Paul and York.
The Dukes handed the Dusters a 65-43 defeat in Saturday night's regular season finale at Holdrege.
York put together a complete game, outscoring Holdrege in every quarter. The Dukes went ahead 18-10 after one and won the second quarter 21-13 to take a 39-23 halftime lead.
The Dukes led 51-34 at the end of three after outscoring the Dusters 12-11 in the third. York scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, and limited Holdrege to 9.
Luke Ackerman had a team-high 14 points.
The defeat came after Holdrege earned a 46-36 road win at Aurora the night before.
The Dusters used a huge fourth quarter to stun the Huskies, outscoring them 18-5. Holdrege battled back from a 14-7 deficit at the end of the first quarter. The Dusters won the second frame 11-9 to make the halftime score 23-18.
Holdrege won the third quarter 10-8 to make the score 31-28 at the start of the fourth.
Marcus VanEperen led the way with 11 points. Dillon Hixson scored 10.
Prior to beating Aurora, Holdrege lost 53-49 in overtime to St. Paul at home on Saturday, February 9th.
Holdrege had to come from behind in the fourth quarter just to force OT. The Dusters outscored the Wildcats 8-6 in the final 8 minutes after facing a 35-33 deficit to start the period.
St. Paul outscored Holdrege 13-8 in the third quarter after trailing 25-22 at the half. Both teams scored 13 second quarter points after the Dusters held a 12-9 advantage at the end of one.
The Wildcats scored 12 extra session points compared to 8 for the Dusters.
Ackerman paced Holdrege with 12 points. Andrew Maaske notched 11.
Holdrege topped Central City 62-50 at home on Friday, February 8th.
The Dusters were forced to play catch up in the first half as the Bison got out to a 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Holdrege outscored Central City 19-4 in the second quarter to go up 26-14 at the break.
Central City won the third quarter 11-10 to make it a 36-25 game at the start of the fourth. Holdrege scored 26 points in the last frame while the Bison totaled 25.
Ackerman put up a team-high 14 points. Maaske and Jared Karlson added 13 apiece.
That's the kind of scoring Holdrege (9-14) must have if it hopes to knock off Aurora (12-9) again.
The two teams split in the regular season as Aurora won 54-43 in the Central Conference Tournament.
I expect the Dusters and Huskies to go toe-to-toe in round 3. This game represents the district champion of the past two seasons and I know both would love a shot at upsetting Grand Island Northwest again in the district final, should the Vikings advance that far.
I think this being Jerry Buck's final postseason as Holdrege head coach will play a huge role Monday night. The players would love to send him out as district champion, and I know they'll do everything in their power to make it happen.
Monday night's game should be good. It is slated to start at 7:45 at Grand Island High.
The Class B, No. 8 Holdrege girls hope to take a step forward today in making their ninth straight trip to Lincoln when they battle Lexington in the B-5 District Semifinals at Elm Creek.
The Dusters closed out the regular season strong, beating Central City, St. Paul, Aurora, and York.
Holdrege battled the Dukes at home in Saturday's regular season finale, winning 54-49 in overtime.
The Dusters were forced to come back, trailing 21-16 at halftime. Holdrege outscored York 16-11 in the third quarter to tie things up at 32 at the start of the fourth. Both teams scored 12 points in the final 8 minutes. The Dusters doubled up the Dukes 10-5 in the extra session.
Holdrege took a 10-9 lead at the end of one before York won the second quarter 12-6 to pull ahead at the half.
Head coach Trent Benjamin says his team showed great resolve and resiliency in the win. "York is a very well coached team, and they had a solid game plan against us. I thought our team showed a lot of character in the second half to fight their way back into the game and come away with a victory. Jamie Isaacson and Gabby Gracia had great games as they needed to take on the roles of being more offensive. Rachel (Jelden) did a great job of working against three defenders and pulling down some much needed rebounds that extended offensive possessions. Finally, Maggie (Nelson) had to work against tough defense and made the most of her offensive chances. However, I am most proud of how she stepped up in overtime to defend their best offensive player when others were having difficulty containing her. It has been a pleasure to coach Maggie and see her grow as a person each year."
Isaacson had a team-high 16 points. Gracia chipped in 15. Jelden pulled down 11 rebounds to go with 9 points.
Holdrege dominated Aurora 53-27 on the road the night before.
The Dusters put the Huskies away in the first half, outscoring them 16-2 in the first quarter and 13-4 in the second to go up 29-6 at halftime.
Holdrege extended its lead to 42-13 at the end of three by winning the third quarter 13-7. The Huskies claimed the fourth 14-11.
Nelson led the way with 21 points. Jelden recorded a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds.
St. Paul was the victim of a 74-31 Dusters' home victory on Saturday, February 9th.
Holdrege was even more dominant than it was against Aurora. The Dusters led 19-10 after one and went ahead 42-14 at the half by outscoring St. Paul 23-4 in the second quarter.
The Dusters won the third quarter 17-7 to go up 59-21 at the start of the fourth. The final stanza was owned by Holdrege, 15-10.
Benjamin says the Dusters kept attacking, stealing away the momentum. "St Paul had just beat Ravenna so they were coming into this game with some momentum. The kids did a great job of going at them and keeping them on their heels the entire game."
Jelden and Nelson scored 17 points apiece to lead Holdrege. Jenna Gillespie contributed 16.
The Dusters made quick work of Central City on Friday, February 8th, beating the Bison 58-25 at home.
Holdrege jumped out to a 22-3 advantage after one. The Dusters won the second quarter 16-9 to go ahead 38-12 at the break.
The Dusters claimed the third quarter 17-4 to take a 55-16 lead into the fourth. Central City outscored Holdrege 9-3 in the last 8 minutes.
Benjamin says his team's execution and preparation was outstanding. "Our kids did a great job of coming out ready to play from the beginning and put Central City away early. Our defensive pressure was better, and we did a good job of running the floor as well. Jenna Gillespie has been doing a much better job of breaking defenses down with the dribble which has helped our offense."
Jelden poured in a game-high 27 points. Gillespie and Isaacson totaled 10 apiece.
This is the type of offensive performance Holdrege (16-6) needs to beat Lexington (7-17) in today's B-5 District Semifinal.
Holdrege won the regular season meeting between the two squads, beating the Minutemaids 56-24 on January 12th.
The 2nd seeded Dusters are the clear cut favorite to win today, and shouldn't have much trouble taking down 3rd seeded Lexington. But Holdrege has to do more than just win. They must dominate.
The Dusters have their sights set on a third showdown with Grand Island Northwest in Friday's scheduled district final. That's a contest Holdrege would most likely have to win to get to state. The Wildcard does not seem likely for the Dusters this year.
Holdrege needs to have a good performance today to set the stage for Friday. Jelden has to be a dominant force down low, opening up things on the outside.
Today's game begins at 4:30.
The Lexington boys basketball team went 1-3 to end the regular season, losing their first two contests of the East/West Shootout before salvaging the third. Lexington lost its regular season finale at North Platte Friday.
The Bulldogs jumped on the Minutemen early, taking an 11-0 first quarter lead. Lexington made it an 11-4 game before North Platte went on a 12-3 run to take a 23-7 lead in the second quarter. The Bulldogs led 33-15 at halftime.
The two biggest highlights of the first half were dunks from North Platte's Drew Callaghan. The 6'7 JR took a wide open inbounds pass and slammed it home with one hand before taking a feed in the paint and putting it down with two hands over the outstretched arms of two Lexington defenders.
North Platte refused to let up in the third quarter, outscoring the Minutemen 14-8 to build a 47-23 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Bulldogs scored 12 points in the final 8 minutes compared to 8 for Lexington.
Lewis Lewis and Ted Berke paced Lexington with 8 points apiece.
the first 10 minutes of the game. Eric Moreno hit four threes in the first quarter and had 14 of his game-high 16 points in the first 8 minutes of action.
The Bearcats hit 11 threes and shot 61% from the floor. Scottsbluff led 42-12 at half and was never threatened by Lexington in the second half. Lexington shot just 22% from the floor and committed 23
The injury bug hurt the Lexington girls basketball team in their final four regular season games as starting point guard Casey Seberger missed all three games of the East/West Shootout as well as Friday night's regular season finale at North Platte with a concussion.
Her missing in action really hurt the Minutemaids, who lost all four contests.
Lexington battled Scottsbluff on the road Thursday, February 7th, falling 46-29.
The second quarter did the Minutemaids in as Scottsbluff shut them out 15-0. The Bearcats went ahead 28-8 at halftime after getting out to a 13-8 lead at the end of one.
Scottsbluff didn't let up in the third quarter, outscoring Lexington 13-9 to build a 41-17 lead at the start of the fourth.
The Minutemaids salvaged the final frame, winning it 12-5.
Molly Woockman had 6 points to lead Lexington.
Following a 36-26 loss at Gering on Friday, February 8th, Lexington fell 49-26 at Alliance on Saturday, February 9th.
The first half doomed the Minutemaids as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 16-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. Alliance outscored Lexington 17-2 in the second quarter to take a 33-6 lead into the locker room.
Lexington played a much better second half, winning the third quarter 9-8. The Minutemaids also won the fourth quarter, 11-8.
Kelby Omeara finished with a team-high 7 points.
Leading 14-7 in the first quarter, the Bulldogs went on an 18-0 run and never looked back, going ahead 32-7 in the second quarter.
Lexington ended the half on a 9-3 run, but the damage had already been done as North Platte took a 35-16 lead into the locker room.
The Bulldogs kept the pedal to the metal in the third quarter, outscoring the Minutemaids 14-9 to go up 49-25 after three.
North Platte won the fourth quarter 15-8.
Lexington was led by Omeara, who put up 9 points, all on three pointers.
Beatrice biodiesel plant to be retrofitted
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ A biodiesel plant in southeast Nebraska is going to be retrofitted to use inedible plant and animal material for feedstock. The Lincoln Journal Star reports Kansas-based Flint Hills Resources Renewables and Texas-based Benefuel Inc. are creating a joint venture for the 50-mil...