Only Omaha Central has a safety net among the top five boys basketball teams in Class A should they lose their grip Monday on a district title.
The top-ranked Eagles (22-4) are projected to be in the state tournament field even with a loss to visiting Omaha Burke (12-11) in their 5:15 p.m. district final.
A Central win would pass the one wild-card berth in the Class A tournament down the line to the highest team in the state point standings that loses.
No. 2-ranked Omaha South is the first team in line after Central. The Packers hold a slim lead over No. 3 Papillion-La Vista in the pecking order after Saturday's district semifinal games. After Papillion-La Vista comes Omaha Benson, Millard West and North Platte. A Benson loss would drop South behind Papillion-La Vista.
North Platte was the only No. 1 district seed to lose to a No. 4, falling 60-57 at home to Papillion-La Vista South, but would go to state if the five Metro teams ahead of the Bulldogs win their finals Monday night.
Omaha South draws Millard North as its 7 p.m. home opponent in the District A-2 final. The Packers beat the No. 9 Mustangs 65-55 in early January.
“We had a chance that night,” Millard North coach Chip Bahe said. “It was a four-point game late and we feel like we're a little better than then. South is a little better.
“They have played well as of late. They dismantled a good Westside team (which beat Millard North the next night) and played well Saturday.”
He said Millard North must stay with the Packers on the boards.
“Anytime you're in a state-tournament or district-tournament situation you have to have a good night rebounding. You can't give opponents more opportunities with the ball,” Bahe said. “South's length is a tough matchup for anybody. Second-chance points can't come in clusters for them if we're going to win.”
Millard North has gone to state the past two years.
“It's kind of fun progressing to where it's our fourth district final in a row and hoping we have an opportunity for a third trip in a row,” Bahe said.
A look at Monday's other Class A district finals.
A-1, Burke (12-11) at Central (22-4), 5:15 p.m.: Burke nearly caught Central looking ahead to its December trip to Florida the last time the teams met, trailing by two with a minute left before losing 73-67.
A-3, Kearney (14-11) at Papillion-La Vista (21-3), 7 p.m.: The visiting Bearcats lack a win over a traditional Class A team with a winning record except for North Platte. Papio has won nine of its past 10 games.
A-4, Bellevue West (14-9) at Omaha Benson (17-5), 7 p.m.: Bellevue West and Central were the only two Metro teams the Bunnies didn't play in the regular season.
A-5, Omaha Creighton Prep (13-10) at Millard West (17-7), 7 p.m.: Prep beat the Wildcats 58-40 at home to close the regular season.
In Class B, all six districts have their semifinals scheduled for Monday. The best pair of games is at Omaha Northwest in B-2. No. 7 Gretna (15-7) plays No. 1 Elkhorn South (18-4), which has beaten the Dragons twice, at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m., No. 3 Ralston (18-5) meets No. 8 Omaha Skutt (15-8) in a rematch of last Tuesday's regular-season game that Ralston won at home 67-55.
In other district finals Monday:
C1-1, No. 4 Falls City (23-3) vs. No. 7 Lincoln Christian (16-9), 7 p.m. at Nebraska City: Christian is trying to qualify for the third consecutive season. Falls City ended a 47-year qualifying drought in its last appearance (2010).
C1-2, Boys Town (16-8) vs. No. 1 Wahoo (25-0), 7 p.m. at Midland University, Fremont: Wahoo hasn't lost since falling 58-55 to the Cowboys in last year's C-1 state final. The Warriors have clinched a wild card to state if they need it.
C1-3, Milford (14-7) vs. No. 9 Adams Central (20-5), 7 p.m. at Grand Island Northwest: A tall task for Adams Central is stopping Milford's 6-foot-8 Chandler Folkerts, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds in his district final.
C1-4, No. 2 Wayne (22-4) vs. No. 5 Boone Central/Newman Grove (20-6), 7 p.m. at Battle Creek: It's Round Three in their season series, with Wayne winning the opener and Boone Central the rematch.
C1-5, Gibbon (19-5) vs. O'Neill (20-5), 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul: O'Neill last was at state in 1995. For Gibbon, which hasn't been to state since 1981, Rylee Reinertson is averaging 24 points a game.
C1-6, Gothenburg (9-13) vs. Kimball (19-1), 6 p.m. MT at Grant: All five of Kimball's wins against C-1 competition have been over teams with losing records.
Wild-card race: Kearney Catholic has one and Wahoo would take the other if it loses to Boys Town. If Wahoo wins, the pecking order for the second wild card would be Wayne, then Kimball. Also alive are Adams Central, Columbus Lakeview, the O'Neill-Gibbon loser, Boone Central and Wahoo Neumann.
C2-1, No. 4 Johnson County (22-3) vs. No. 1 Sutton (24-1), 7 p.m. at Doane College, Crete: Sutton, which is on a 17-game winning streak, has a wild card in hand according to our projections. If Johnson County loses, the T-birds would need wins from Hartington Cedar Catholic and Southern Valley to claim that wild card.
C2-2, Fremont Bergan (14-9) vs. Malcolm (12-12), 7 p.m. at Waverly: They're probably playing for a first-round game at state against Sutton.
C2-3, Oakland-Craig (14-12) vs. No. 10 Norfolk Lutheran (20-5), 7 p.m. at Wisner: Lutheran was last year's C-2 state runner-up.
C2-4, No. 6 Hartington Cedar Catholic (20-6) vs. Crofton (10-13), 7 p.m. at Norfolk High: Crofton, which hasn't been to state since 1928, lost to Cedar 51-35 in December. Cedar, which took third in C-2 last year, is on a 12-game winning streak.
C2-5, Hastings St. Cecilia (11-13) vs. No. 3 Southern Valley (20-3), 6:30 p.m. at Gibbon: St. Cecilia, despite its record, is a tough draw for a Southern Valley team seeking its first state appearance since 1999.
C2-6, No. 5 North Platte St. Patrick's (21-3) vs. Hemingford (19-5), 6:30 p.m. MT at Sidney: St. Patrick's, which has been to state the past two years, is playing a school that hasn't been to Lincoln since 1978.
Wild-card race: Freeman has clinched one berth. Sutton would be the other wild card with a loss to Johnson County. If Sutton wins, the pecking order would be Cedar Catholic (if Boone Central wins its district), Southern Valley, Cedar (if Boone loses), Johnson County (if Malcolm wins), St. Patrick's, Johnson County (if Malcolm loses).
Bryan-Papio South final at Bellevue East
Omaha Bryan will play Papillion-La Vista South for the District A-6 title at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bellevue East.
The Nebraska School Activities Association on Sunday officially moved the final from North Platte, which was the district host as one of the top seven teams in the state point standings but lost to Papio South on Saturday.
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