Basketball fans, ‘March Madness’ is underway! Last weekend, the high school girls state basketball tournament was held. In some of the classes, the top seeds made it all the way to the championship game while others stumbled on the way. Nothing is a given when it comes to championship basketball especially in March.
The girls Class A bracket played out as it should have with Bellevue East coming back late in the game to steal the win from Bellevue West 52-49 for the state championship.
Seward was the only unbeaten team in the state at the conclusion of the state tournament. The Lady Bluejays won their 75th straight game and their third straight state title with a 70-54 win over Elkhorn.
In Class C1, the Hastings St. Cecilia Hawkettes won their first state championship by defeating C1’s number one team Wahoo. The state title is the first for the Hawkettes since winning three from 1977-79. Minden, from the Southwest Conference finished fourth after qualifying as a wildcard.
The next two classes, C2 and D1, had No. 6 seeds earn state championships. Homer defeated Crofton 49-45 for their first state title in school history. This year was Homer’s second appearance in the tournament, their last was in 2007. It was not easy for the Lady Knights, they defeated Lutheran High Northeast 45-43 in overtime then defeated Hartington Cedar Catholic 49-44 in the semifinals.
Howells road to the final was a little tougher as they first had to defeat Exeter-Milligan 42-39. In the semifinals, the Lady Bobcats had no trouble handing the Chambers/Wheeler Central Renegades their first loss of the season 40-24. The Lady Bobcats’ win over No. 4 seed Pender gave Howells their first state championship in school history.
In Class D2, Custer County was represented by the Ansley Lady Warriors. It was Ansley’s third appearance in the state tournament, the first since 1984. Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, their stay in Lincoln was cut short with a 51-28 loss to eventual Class D2 state champion Wynot. Wynot defended their 2010 championship loss to Lindsay Holy Family by defeating them in this year’s semifinals 53-44 to reach the title game for the second year in a row.
Today, the dreams of mayhem begin when the boys take the hardwood in Lincoln.
Two Custer County Chief area schools will be in action. Mullen kicks off the Class D2 tournament at 9 a.m. against Sterling. In CLass D1, Sandhills/Thedford plays Howells at 7 p.m.
My predictions for the boys state championship are as follows:
Class A - No. 4 Norfolk over No. 2 Omaha Bryan.
Class B - No. 1 South Sioux City over No. 2 Gretna.
Class C1 - No. 1 Grand Island Central Catholic over No. 3 Norfolk Catholic.
Class C2 - No. 2 Ravenna over No. 1 Archbishop Bergan.
Class D1 - No. 2 Howells over No. 1 West Point Central Catholic.
Class D2 - No. 3 Wauneta-Palisade over No. 1 Giltner.
Good luck to the Broncos and the Knights as you try to create your ‘One Shining Moment’.
There are also many college conferences that are having their tournaments with the winners getting an automatic bid into the NCAA National Tournament.
The Nebraska Huskers have a chance to get the ‘Dance’ but they will have to earn it. Of course, if they win the tournament they will be in. But if they don’t, they will need to win at least two games in the tournament to have a chance for an at-large bid. Their first game is against Oklahoma State, who they defeated earlier in the season. If they defeat the Cowboys their next game will be against the No. 2 team in the country, the Kansas Jayhawks.
When the tournaments are complete, teams will await the outcome of ‘Selection Sunday’ to see if they have a dance partner come next Thursday.
My picks for No. 1 seeds: Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Pittsburgh.