Love and Basketball

On this Valentine's Day, we have entered the post season for girls basketball and the state wrestling tournament awaits. We'll do our best to get you ready.

CROSS CLASS BATTLE: Ogallala’s Caleb Castilla (2) goes up for a shot over Crete’s Kenner Svitak (13) in Saturday’s Heartland Hoops Classic. (Harvest Sports / Dante Boelhower)

Love, Actually

Well, here we go. The postseason is now officially upon us. The season ended for some teams last night. Sad face. We’ll try to keep you up on all of the postseason hoops here the best we can. It’s a dash to the finish and we are going to try to not get sick between now and March 10.

Time for a new girls basketball Power 20, a Heartland Hoops Classic recap (in. a special episode of The Season) and some of our new content from earlier this week. Thank you (!!) for reading and sharing. As always, if you enjoy the Newsletter we’d love it if you would share with your friends by forwarding this e-mail or sharing a link on social media.

Grab your coffee!! We got work to do.

TO THE CUP: Norris’ Ize Tidball looks to score against Omaha Skutt last week. Both Class B teams continue to be ranked in this weeks Power 20. (Harvest Sports / Andrew Placke)

The Girls Hoops Power 20

The postseason arrives on Tuesday for the smaller classes and we begin to tighten up our Power 20 girls rankings. Sub-district finals on Thursday. Class A and B postseason play begins on Monday. Only one more rating after this until the state tournament begins. It goes by quick.

The great thing about these rankings? They will change before we cut the nets down. All records through games played Tuesday night, February 13. We make these rankings based on conversations with coaches throughout the state, by watching games, and with our gut if we are being honest.

1 - Millard West (21-1): Not much left to say about the ‘Cats. The coaches are firmly behind them being the best team in Class A and they have proved it. If someone is going to knock them off it will take a special effort. This is the same thing we typed last week. Last week: 1.

2 - Elkhorn North (18-1): Got a nice win over Norris on Senior Night and over Class A Elkhorn South on Monday. A road trip to Northwest on Friday, so we’ll see the Wolves in person for the first time. Last week: 2.

3 - Lincoln Southwest (18-3): Six in a row for Tim Barada’s crew with a road trip to Kearney left. They overcame a — wait for it — “one made field goal in the first half” performance before coming back to beat Lincoln North Star on Saturday, 43-35. Last week: 3.

4 - Omaha Skutt Catholic (21-1): Beat a really good Sioux City East team on Monday 59-43. The wins have piled up against a strong schedule. Last week: 4. 

5 - Lincoln North Star (16-4): Moving up after the loss to Lincoln Southwest because Millard North lost to Bellevue East. Last week: 6.

6 - Millard North (15-6): Just dropping one spot for the loss to Bellevue East, but a nice win over Omaha Marian on Tuesday night. Last week: 5.

7 - Papillion-LaVista South (15-5): Beat Papio, now the big finish with Bellevue West and Millard West. Last week: 7.

8 - Lincoln Northeast (16-5): Rockets might be too low, but a win over Pius would sure make us think about a move up. Last week: 8.

9 - Bellevue West (14-6): The hottest team in the state has won eight in a row and Tuesday’s win over Papillion-LaVista doesn’t hurt matters. Just nowhere to move forward yet. Last week: 9. 

10 - Lincoln Pius X (15-6): Just a final regular season game with Fremont left, the Bolts win streak is seven. Last week: 10.

11 - Sidney (23-0): The big sub-district final with Bridgeport is set for Thursday. Last week: 11.

12 - Lincoln Christian (20-2): Beat Ashland-Greenwood 52-38 to open sub-district play. Will face Raymond Central on Thursday night. Last week: 12.

13 - Omaha Central (16-6): A game with Omaha Westside on Friday to stay right here. Last week: 13.

14 - Bellevue East (13-7): The Chieftains have made their presence felt with recent wins over Lincoln Southwest and Millard North. Last week: NR.

15 - Gretna East (14-6): Now to “Class B semifinals or bust” territory for the Griffins. Last week: 15.

16 - Norris (14-5): Off a three game losing streak, but to Lincoln Christian, Skutt and Elkhorn North, with a Tuesday win over Blair. We’ll give them a pass. Last week: 16.

17 - Lincoln Southeast (15-5): A loss to Kearney drops the Knights, but bounce back win over Papillion-LaVista worthy of staying in the Power 20.. Last week: 13.

18 - Omaha Marian (15-7): Regular season over after a loss to Millard North on Tuesday night. Last week: 17.

19 - Omaha Westside (13-10): Beat Omaha North on Tuesday night and pivotal games left at Omaha Central and Bellevue East. Last week: 18. 

20 - Crofton (20-0): We were giving strong consideration to putting Pender back in this spot after seeing them in person in the East Husker final. But, with their Tuesday loss to GACC and Crofton’s two wins against the Bluejays it’s time for the Warriors to return off a one-week hiatus. Last week: 20

Fell out: Grand Island Central Catholic.

Up Next (listed alphabetically by class): Beatrice (18-3), Waverly (15-4), Bridgeport (23-0), Guardian Angels CC (19-2), Pender (22-1).

Coaches Polls + More

Each week our Tony Chapman will compile the girls basketball coaches poll and Mike Sautter the boys poll for nebpreps with help from coaches around the state. All season long, you can also catch game reports from Jacob Padilla for some of the best basketball content in the state. (The Newsletter is also a big fan of Jacob’s “Top Performance” tweets.)


HOT START: Pender’s Mady Dolliver started the postseason, shall we say, warm. She made 13 3-points shots on 23 attempts in the second-ranked Pendragons 97-25 win over Lyons-Decatur on Tuesday night. This mark is an all-time Nebraska record as previously four players — most recently Akili Felci from Bellevue West in 2018 — had 11 in a single game.

FEEK’S TEAM: The Gretna Dragons gathered around assistant coach Bill Heard during the Heartand Hoops Classic on Saturday in Grand Island. (Harvest Sports / Andrew Placke)

Still Fighting

GRETNA’S LONG WINTER: Something you learn — not that you really want to — after you have lost someone you loved is that people will be there for you in the immediate aftermath. To help you with the things you need, to help you grieve for a few moments, to get you settled into a new normal.

And, then they leave you to finish the grieving process on your own, such that they — the ones who helped you — can move on with their lives.

In Gretna, late December — when their long-time basketball coach Brad Feeken passed away — turned to January and, now, January has turned to February. Soon, March will be upon us.


The Season: Heartland Hoops Classic

Our fourth (and special) episode of The Season presented by Tom Dinsdale Automotive dropped on Tuesday. This episode follows our day spent at the 2024 Heartland Hoops Classic.

Also, new Facebook page alert.

BACK TO STATE: Northwest wrestler Emma Harb pins Adams Central’s Piper Moll in the A-2 girls district semifinals to advance to the state tournament. (Harvest Sports / Tony Chapman)

The Long Road to Omaha

Wrestlers are generally not one to bring attention to themselves. On occasion you may find a flamboyant grappler that will put on a show for a crowd.

Most of them toil in solitude. Working hard. Sweating to lose that precious pound. Trying to get that little advantage they can for their next match.

So it’s fitting that in the raucous noise of the Class A, District 2 championship round, Grand Island Northwest’s Emma Harb retreats to a quiet stairwell off the main gym at York High School to share her story.

Emma’s story is one of doing what you love. But it’s also about courage and toughness and strength. And, most importantly, faith. 


BRACKETS: Class A | Class B | Class C | Class D | Girls