While the 48-team field is set for this week’s state tournament, let’s take a minute to mention the teams that came oh-so-close to getting there.
It’s a long season, and the difference between qualifying and staying home often comes down to decimal points in the wild card standings. Here are some of the squads that came up short of the tourney but still deserve recognition.
»Class A: Lincoln Northeast, Lincoln North Star.
Northeast had a solid season but lost a five-setter against Millard South in the district semifinal. North Star defeated Bellevue East in five sets, then pushed Lincoln Southwest to five sets in the district final.
Papillion-La Vista finished as the one Class A wild card with 42.13 points, followed by Northeast (41.35) and North Star (41.32).
»Class B: Omaha Skutt, Omaha Duchesne.
The SkyHawks and the Cardinals, ranked most of the season, had the misfortune of being assigned to the same district as Omaha Gross and Gretna. Skutt beat Gross in a district semifinal but lost to Gretna in the final. Duchesne (22-9), which enjoyed one of its best seasons ever, lost to Gretna in a district semifinal.
»Class C-1: Minden.
When Lincoln Christian lost in subdistricts and Chadron fell in the district final, it was bad news for the Whippets. Minden finished sixth in wild-card points, but those upsets — combined with Minden’s loss to top-ranked Kearney Catholic in the subdistrict final — kept the Whippets home.
»Class C-2: West Holt, Yutan.
A loss to Neligh-Oakdale in subdistricts hurt West Holt, which finished less than three-tenths of a point behind Hershey for the final wild card. Yutan lost a five-setter against Elmwood-Murdock in subdistricts and didn’t get the chance to play Freeman — a team it had beaten earlier in the season — in the district final.
»Class D-1: Bruning-Davenport/Shickley.
The 24-5 Eagles began the season with a win against No. 3 Exeter-Milligan, but couldn’t repeat that performance in subdistricts. BDS finished with a 44.55 wild-card average, behind Ansley-Litchfield’s 44.94 that earned the final wild card berth.
»Class D-2: Ewing, Bertrand, Wynot.
When two of the top four teams in wild card points lost in districts, it was unfortunate for these three teams ranked for most of the season. Ewing, which won the state title in 2008, finished three-tenths of a point behind Leyton for the final wild card.
State tournament: There are some interesting first-round matchups:
»Papillion-La Vista South vs. Papillion-La Vista, Class A. The Monarchs will be decided underdogs, but there’s always drama when these rivals take the court in any sport. The Titans have lost one set against Nebraska competition this season, and a third straight state championship has been this team’s goal since the first day of practice.
»Gross vs. Gretna, Class B. The Cougars lost to Skutt in district play after defeating the SkyHawks three days earlier in the final of the River Cities Conference tournament. The Dragons beat Skutt in that district final Thursday, but a matchup against an angry Gross team is a tough first-rounder.
»Columbus Scotus vs. Grand Island CC, Class C-1. What better way to kick off the C-1 tourney than a matchup between these longtime rivals. The schools have combined for 24 state titles, and Crusaders coach Sharon Zavala (875 wins) and the Shamrocks’ John Petersen (835) are Nos. 1 and 2 all time in Nebraska coaching victories.
»Kearney Catholic vs. Lincoln Lutheran, Class C-1. Any match involving the Stars, the last unbeaten team in the state, is a biggie. The Stars have finished as state runners-up the past two years and hope to end this season with their first title.
Ratings update: Two teams — Grand Island Northwest in Class B and Howells-Dodge in D-1 — rise to No. 1. The Vikings slip ahead of previous No. 1 Gross after the Cougars’ loss to Skutt. The Jaguars move ahead of West Point Guardian Angels following a five-set win against the Bluejays in the subdistrict final.
Attention coaches: All-state nomination forms were emailed to coaches Friday using their email addresses on record with the NSAA. If you did not receive a form, please email me.
Coaches of teams from Class A, Class B and the Omaha area whose seasons are over are asked to submit their final statistics as soon as possible. Those may be faxed to 402-444-1238 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for all-state nominations and statistics is Nov. 13.
Contact the writer:
402-444-1350, email@example.com; twitter.com/MPattersonOWH