Pitchin' with Pritch: High school ball ends in Lincoln

It is hard to grasp that the 2018-19 high school basketball season is almost history. This week the boys will play for all the marbles and the girls did that last week, so I know the season is really ending. 

I watched some of the finals of the girls’ games last week and there were some pretty good games. There were, however, not many champions from west of Kearney. The East prevailed. I thought maybe Sidney would be able to make a little noise but it was very little as they lost to the eighth place seed Elkhorn South, which was 12-13 going into the tournament and Sidney was the top seed. 

Dundy County-Stratton made the most noise for the West as they ended up in the championship game but lost 36-27 to Archbishop Bergan. Dundy County-Stratton had an outstanding year ending up 24-3.

In the boy’s tournament starting on Thursday, there are only eight teams in the tournament from West of Kearney and that is counting Kearney which is 20-5 and seeded third in Class A. The other seven teams are Scottsbluff the eighth seed at 14-10 in Class B, Alliance also in Class B seeded seventh at 19-6, Ogallala, seeded No. 1 at 26-0 in Class C-1, Bridgeport in C2 seeded No. 2 at 23-2, Elm Creek, seeded No. 1 in D1 and Paxton seeded No. 3 at 23-1 and Wauneta-Palisade seeded No. 6 at 20-5. 

Ogallala has enough talent to win C1 but I also think C1 is the toughest class in the tournament. When I say that I mean in my opinion that class has the most teams that are pretty equal in talent, but I also think Class B is very close to the toughest also. 

I watched a number of the teams that are in the tournament about a month ago at the Heartland Hoops Classic and was impressed with Aurora which is Class B. Aurora is 25-1 and is the second seed in B. The top seed in Class B is Lincoln Pius X at 24-2. If both of those teams make it to the finals, it should be a really good game. If a team makes it to the tournament, they are usually playing pretty good basketball at this time of year, but so many things can happen that can turn a game around. 

I can’t say it doesn’t matter what you have done in the regular season because it does matter, but when the talent level at the state tournament is such that you better be ready to play each and every minute of the game if you want to survive.

There is always a chance that a team you play in regular season will also make it to the state tournament and you might have to play them again if you are both in the same division, but this season one of the D1 match-ups has a strange background. 

Paxton and Wa/Pa play in the first round on Thursday. They played twice during the regular season and Paxton won both times. Once in regular season 58-45 and once in their conference tournament 63-45, so now they get to play a third time. Wa/Pa might be able to handle that and I am sure Paxton can handle it, but Wa/Pa’s path to the tournament had an element that I would bet most teams have never seen in a season. 

Wauneta-Palisade played Dundy County –Stratton five times this year. On Dec. 8 they played regular season and DCS won 51-36. On Jan. 23, they played in their conference tournament and Wa/Pa won 60-58 in OT. On Feb. 15, they played their second conference game and Wa/Pa won that 69-51. On Feb. 21, they played in the sub-district and Wa/Pa won that one 65-59 and four days later in the district finals they played again and Wa/Pa won that one 36-33 and won their way to Lincoln.

 So they played each other five times in one season, three times in 10 days and back-to-back in four days. It would appear that Wauneta-Palisade knew they would play Paxton all along and was just preparing for their third game of the season with Paxton. Dundy County lost four out of five to Wa/Pa and ended up 16-8 for the season. 

You hear all the time in basketball how it is really hard to beat a good team three times in a season let alone four out of five but Wa/Pa handled that so they probably don’t think it is a big deal to play someone for the third time. 

The ball is round in this game but it takes some strange bounces for sure. Good luck to the teams that are in Lincoln, it is a great place to finish a season.

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