DUNNING -- The Sandhills/Thedford Knights are making their second straight appearance in the Boys State Basketball Tournament since their co-op in the fall of 2008. The Knights were defeated in the first round last season by Freeman.
Before the co-op, Sandhills made four appearances in the state tournament and Thedford had made 13 appearances.
The Knights (16-7) open the state tournament as the No. 7 seed and will meet No. 2 seed Howells (22-2).
The Knights have won 16 of their last 19 games with all three losses to Class D2 state qualifier Mullen. Two of their other losses came to Class C2 state qualifier North Platte St. Patrick’s and to the Loup Valley Conference champions, Litchfield.
Howells lost two games all season, their first to Wisner-Pilger and their second to West Point Central Catholic in the subdistrict final. Key wins for the Bobcats are wins over state qualifiers Archbishop Bergan and West Point Central Catholic.
To win, the Knights will have to overcome the size of the Bobcats. Four of their starters are over six feet tall with two measuring 6-5.
“I think the biggest challenge will be how big they are,” said Sandhills/Thedford coach Adam Marten. “They aren’t really that tall but they are football players.”
“It is no secret how great their football tradition has been and it is easy to see why when looking at them. They are very mature looking kids who are very physical.”
Coach Marten says that his team is similar to Howells in that they are both very deep on the bench. Howells also likes to push the ball and run some man-to-man and zone defenses similar to the Knights.
“They score inside and out like us,” said Marten. “They are much thicker that we are and are different kinds of athletes. They will be stronger but I would like to think we are quicker.”
One problem that Howells creates for Sandhills/Thedford is their size underneath the basket.
“I think it goes back to matching up with their two posts who are both about 240 pounds each.”
“Our advantage, once again, will be quickness. We have to spread the floor with our offense and use that to our advantage.”
Sandhills/Thedford’s game with Howells tips-off at 7 p.m. at North Star High School.