Which game Saturday night will have no impact on the Class A postseason?
Omaha South-Millard West? No.
North Platte-Scottsbluff? No.
Oak Hill Academy (Va.)-Omaha Central, the most anticipated game of the season? Yes.
How can that be? Because Central is playing an opponent beyond one of Nebraska’s border states, and those games don’t count in the Nebraska School Activities Association point standings. It’s a rule that’s been on the books for more than a decade because of the difficulty the NSAA office had in tracking down the records of far-flung teams. So the Oak Hill game at the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island, like the Eagles’ three games at the City of Palms Classic in Florida in December, is no-risk to Central.
What could be at stake Saturday is the No. 1 seed in districts for Omaha South and a top-seven seed, good for hosting a district, for North Platte.
South moved past Central into first in the Class A point standings with its 65-59 win against the Eagles. To stay there, the top-ranked Packers could use a win at No. 4 Millard West.
North Platte (12-5) enters the week barely ahead of Omaha Creighton Prep and Bellevue West for the sixth seed. Neither Metro team has a chance down the stretch to pick up a win that’s worth the maximum 50 points in the NSAA point system that North Platte likely would collect by beating defending Class B champion Scottsbluff.
If the district seedings were made now instead of Feb. 19 after the close of the regular season, North Platte would be in the only district without a ranked team. How the districts would look:
Omaha South (host), Lincoln North Star, Kearney, Grand Island
Omaha Central (host), Omaha Burke, Millard North, Bellevue East
Papillion-La Vista (host), Omaha North, Fremont, Lincoln High
Millard West (host), Lincoln Southeast, Omaha Westside, Lincoln Northeast
Omaha Benson (host), Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln East, Omaha Northwest
North Platte (host), Lincoln Pius X, Papillion-La Vista South, Norfolk
Omaha Creighton Prep (host), Bellevue West, Omaha Bryan, Millard South
South-Central follow-up: It was a great night for Omaha Public Schools hoops. A sellout crowd of more than 2,100, a first for South in its present gym, was on its best behavior. South students even heeded their administrators’ requests not to storm the court in victory.
You might have to go back to the Josh Jones era at Central for the last time a game between two rated OPS teams was such a hot ticket that several hundred people had to be turned away. What comes to mind, for Jones and me, was Central’s 108-76 win in February 2008 against Benson in the Bunnies’ Benson Garden gym. Doors that night to the 1,700-seat facility closed an hour before tipoff.
How many more people were interested in the game and didn’t bother trying to go? That was a question from Anthony McCroy, a former Benson player.
“When I was a kid they would move big games to the Civic Auditorium or Boys Town. I would go to the game if I thought I could get in,” McCroy wrote Friday. “I realize planning and cost are involved, but I guarantee you 5,000 people would go if they knew they could get in.”
A primary reason Omaha schools don’t take their biggest games to neutral sites is because they all now have on-campus gyms that seat at least 1,700. Until the early 1990s, Northwest, Bryan and Burke were the only OPS schools to play true home games.
Central and South used Norris Middle School. North was at McMillan Middle School, Benson at Monroe Middle School and later at Northwest. Of those four, Central in 2006 was the last to move home games into its gym.
Rental fees and security are major expenses, too. A number bandied about for use of the City Auditorium for the last two nights of the Metro’s holiday tournament this year was $10,000 for rental.
Top 10 changes: Central goes up to No. 2 after Papillion-La Vista’s 61-57 home loss to Millard North. The Monarchs return to third.
Lincoln Southwest rises to eighth and Millard North to ninth after Omaha North exits for a 61-58 home loss to Omaha Westside. The Vikings finally ended a four-game skid by beating Northwest on Saturday.
Burke returns at No. 10.
Class B: While the top four of Elkhorn South, Scottsbluff, McCook and Ralston stay the same from last week, Norris and South Sioux City move into fifth and sixth, respectively. Previous occupants Waverly and Grand Island Northwest dropped games to unranked teams.
Northwest lost three of four games while it was without three regulars who were sitting out 15 days for violating team rules.
Omaha Skutt returns in 10th after Omaha Roncalli went 0-3 last week, including a loss to Bennington (5-10).
Heartland Hoops: General admission seating are the only tickets that remain, event promoter Tino Martinez of Grand Island said, and only tickets bought in advance will be guaranteed admittance to the Heartland Events Center.
Adult tickets are $16, with student tickets $8, and are good for all eight games. Central-Oak Hill is scheduled for 9 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the Heartland Events Center box office or through http://ticketmaster.com.
Saturday’s games—8:30 a.m., High Plains vs. Grand Island Heartland Lutheran. 10:15, Sutton vs. Grand Island Central Catholic. Noon, Raymond Central vs. Hastings St. Cecilia. 1:45 p.m., Lincoln Pius X vs. Grand Island. 3:30, Fremont Bergan vs. Doniphan-Trumbull. 5:15, Kearney Catholic vs. Grand Island Northwest. 7, Boys Town vs. Norfolk Catholic. 9, Oak Hill Academy vs. Omaha Central.
Top games this week:
Class A—Tuesday: Lincoln Pius X at Lincoln Southeast, Omaha Benson at Omaha Bryan. Thursday: Millard North at Bellevue West. Friday: Omaha North at Bellevue West, Omaha Creighton Prep at Omaha Burke, Lincoln Southwest at Kearney, Millard West at Omaha Westside. Saturday: Omaha South at Millard West, Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst at Prep, Kearney at Lincoln North Star, Lincoln Southwest at Omaha Benson, Westside at Burke.
Class B—Tuesday: Ralston at South Sioux City. Thursday: Norris at Omaha Skutt. Friday: Grand Island Northwest at Beatrice, Gretna at Norfolk Catholic, Scottsbluff at McCook, South Sioux City at Omaha Gross. Saturday: Ralston at Elkhorn South, Lincoln Christian at Norris, Scottsbluff at North Platte.
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