Preseason favorites took a few lumps during December and last week, opening the way for new No. 1 teams in all four small-school classes.
Class C-1 ratings leader Wahoo (11-0) has the most impressive win, giving Class B Elkhorn South its only loss, 55-53 in the title game of the Wahoo holiday tournament. That setback kept the Storm from being No. 1 in the Monday’s Class B ratings.
Class C-2 leader Freeman (10-0) has the most impressive body of work through the first five weeks of the season. The Falcons have dealt C-2 No. 2 Sutton and No. 7 Johnson County and D-2 No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart their only losses of the season.
Class D-1 leader Paxton isn’t afraid to score. The Tigers (10-0) are averaging 76 points a game and their average margin of victory is 42 points.
Class D-2 leader Sacred Heart, which lost at home to Freeman 47-42 on Dec. 7, beat D-1’s preseason No. 1 High Plains 62-43 in the finals of the Friend holiday tournament.
What’s happened to those preseason leaders? Three remain ranked, but not Norfolk Catholic in C-1. Against a rugged schedule, the Knights have gone 6-5. All but one loss is to a rated team.
C-2’s Norfolk Lutheran is third after a 10-2 start. The Eagles have lost to Class B Seward and C-1 Pierce.
D-1 No. 7 High Plains, which opened the year by beating two-time defending D-2 champion Giltner, lost to C-2 No. 2 Sutton and Sacred Heart.
Giltner falls only to third for its loss to High Plains, which came 11 days after the Hornets won the Eight Man-2 state football title.
Mudecas preview: The oldest regular-season tournament in the state is under way with its 83rd annual event in Beatrice, with boys first-round games on tap for Tuesday. Two of the A division openers match rated teams — D-1 No. 3 Pawnee City against D-2 No. 8 Sterling at 3:30 p.m. and Johnson County against BDS at 8:45.
If the seeds hold, Thursday’s semifinals would be Freeman-Johnson County and Pawnee City-Sacred Heart, with the winners advancing to Saturday’s final. It’s one of the better years for this southeast Nebraska institution.
Back on bench: Ken Cook, whose 623 coaching wins are the state record in girls basketball, is back on the bench in the Freeman gym — as an assistant for the boys team.
“He relates well to the kids,” Freeman coach Jim McLaughlin said. “It’s great to have someone with his knowledge and experience.”
Other happenings at Freeman include the school building a new football stadium and 1,200-seat gym with a college-length, 94-foot court. It also is in its first season in the larger-school East Central Nebraska Conference after leaving the Pioneer Conference.
Top games this week:
Class C-1 — Tuesday: Boys Town at Gretna, York at Grand Island Central Catholic. Thursday: Fort Calhoun at Ralston, Ainsworth at O’Neill. Friday: Grand Island Northwest at Adams Central, Raymond Central at Ashland-Greenwood, Wahoo Neumann at Council Bluffs St. Albert, Columbus Scotus at Lincoln Christian, Gibbon at Doniphan-Trumbull, Kimball at Bridgeport, Lincoln Lutheran at Wilber-Clatonia, Pierce at Hartington Cedar Catholic, Wynot at Winnebago. Saturday: Sidney at Kimball, Adams Central at Doniphan-Trumbull, Cozad at Ainsworth, West Point GACC at Boone Central/Newman Grove, David City at Malcolm, Falls City at Elmwood-Murdock, Kearney Catholic at Hastings St. Cecilia, Thayer Central at Milford, Creighton at O’Neill.
Class C-2 — Tuesday: Twin River at David City Aquinas, Bridgeport at Leyton, Clearwater/Orchard at Creighton, Dundy County-Stratton at Hitchcock County, Mullen at North Platte St. Patrick’s. Friday: Grand Island Central Catholic at David City Aquinas, Clarkson/Leigh at Humphrey St. Francis, Malcolm at Yutan, Shelton at Ravenna, Sutton at Thayer Central. Saturday: Dundy County-Stratton at Arapahoe, Lyons-Decatur Northeast at Wakefield.
Class D-1 — Tuesday: Giltner at Kenesaw, Loup City at Shelton. Friday: Hitchcock County at Alma, Paxton at Wallace, Randolph at Wausa, SMC at Mullen. Saturday: Elm Creek at Kenesaw.
Class D-2 — Tuesday: Humphrey St. Francis at Spalding/Spalding Academy. Friday: Giltner at Osceola. Saturday: Bertrand at Overton.
Tournaments: Mudecas at Beatrice City Auditorium, semifinals Thursday and final Saturday.
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