Past success by the Crofton basketball program has played a role in the success the Warriors are enjoying these days.
The Class C-2 school captured the 2012 state title and is off to a 12-0 start this season. Coach Aaron Losing says many of the players suiting up for the Warriors the past few seasons grew up watching the Crofton teams that captured the Class C-1 championship three straight years, from 2005 to 2007.
“I think watching those teams motivated these girls to try and play like that,” Losing said. “It's helped us build the program to where we want it to be.”
The Warriors rely heavily on a pair of sisters for their success. Senior Bridget Arens is averaging almost 20 points per game while sophomore Allison Arens is averaging 13.
Bridget, a four-year varsity player, is a South Dakota recruit. Allison, who averaged 12 points as a freshman, already is receiving attention from several colleges.
“With the players that we had coming back and the summer we had, I was pretty optimistic,” Losing said. “I'm happy with the way we've played.”
Crofton had a pair of close calls to start the season but prevailed over Hartington Cedar Catholic (47-41) and Laurel-Concord (44-41). The Warriors rattled off 10 more victories and now have the longest win streak in the state at 19, dating to last season.
Losing (pronounced LOW-zing) is in his ninth season as head coach. He's led the Warriors to their four state titles, the first three with teams headed by two-time World-Herald girls athlete of the year Amber Hegge.
He said Hegge and Bridget Arens, the Warriors' leading scorer since her sophomore year, contributed in different ways.
“Bridget is more of a physical inside player,” he said. “Amber's game was as an athletic guard. But they're both hard workers who did great things for the team.”
Losing added that work ethic extends to every player on the team.
“Everyone has put in a lot of effort to get to this point,” he said. “It's paid off, but we know we've got a long way to go.”
The Warriors will face a big test at home Jan. 24 against unbeaten, Class C-1 No. 4 Pierce. Then comes Crofton's first appearance in the Mid-State Conference tournament following a move from the Northeast Nebraska Athletic Conference.
“We're going to be tested there,” he said. “That conference is really tough, but I think that will help us get ready for what's ahead.”
Crofton's district includes No. 3 Homer, another school that knows something about the state tournament. The Lady Knights defeated Crofton in the 2011 state tourney final before getting eliminated in the first round last year.
“It's going to be a challenge the rest of the way,” Losing said.
Ratings update: The top-ranked teams from last week — Minden, Crofton, West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic and Humphrey — hold on to their No. 1 positions.
The two newcomers to the ratings are Norfolk Catholic (No. 10 in C-1) and North Bend (No. 10 in C-2). The Knights defeated Columbus Scotus and Wayne last week. North Bend is coming off wins over Arlington and Fremont Bergan.
Seeing Stars: Last week, we mentioned the difficult week faced by Hastings St. Cecilia. It went 0-3 against ranked foes Grand Island Northwest, Minden and Kearney Catholic.
This week, it's Class C-1 No. 3 Kearney Catholic that will be tested. The unbeaten Stars play Thursday night at four-time defending Class B champion Seward and then return home for a Friday game against Class C-1 No. 4 Pierce.
Top games this week:
Class C-1—Tuesday: Gretna at Norfolk Catholic; Norris at Fairbury. Thursday: Kearney Catholic at Seward. Friday: Minden at Holdrege; Pierce at Kearney Catholic.
Class C-2—Tuesday: Emerson-Hubbard at Homer. Thursday: Sandy Creek at Blue Hill. Friday: Hastings St. Cecilia at David City Aquinas. Saturday: David City Aquinas at Omaha Concordia.
Class D-1—Tuesday: Arapahoe at Axtell. Thursday: Southern Valley at Arapahoe. Friday: Exeter-Milligan at BDS. Saturday: Hartington Cedar Catholic at West Point GACC; Howells-Dodge at Pender; Heartland at Sutton.
Class D-2—Thursday: Brady at Mullen; Loomis at Alma. Friday: Southern at Sterling.
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