Giltner has become a regular at the boys state tournament.
The Hornets (22-3) will be making their fifth straight appearance at state when they face Wynot (22-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln High.
“I think (making it to state) has kind of been the goal all six years I’ve been here,” Giltner coach Matt Drew said. “The goal is always to make it to state and see if you can make some noise when you get down there.”
The Hornets have made some noise with Class D-2 state titles the past two years.
This year is a bit different though. Last year, the unbeaten Hornets were a solid favorite to win the D-2 title. This year, they are seeded seventh and are probably considered by most to be somewhat of a long shot.
Drew said being a lower seed instead of a high seed changes the way he approaches things.
“Being a lower seed, most of your focus is on that first game,” Drew said. “You’re not getting ready for all three games. The last few years, we kind of knew our opponent or were a favorite in that first round. This year we have a team that’s going to give us a lot of trouble.
“There is a lot more focus on that first game.”
Wynot and Giltner are familiar opponents. The Hornets have beaten the Blue Devils in the D-2 semifinals each of the past two seasons.
Wynot is led by 6-foot-8 senior center Nathan Wieseler who averages 13.5 points and 8.1 rebounds a game.
Freshman guard Jackson Sudbeck is averaging 11.1 points per game for the Blue Devils.
“They kind of do the same things they’ve done the last two years,” Drew said. “They have a post player who I would say is probably the best player in D-2. He’s not just 6-8. He’s 6-8, has great moves, he can shoot the ball, he’s a great passer and he’s a force on defense. We have our hands full with him.”
The Hornets have just one player in double figures with senior Dustin Hastings averaging 11.2 points per game. Senior Kyle Hawthorne isn’t far behind at 9.8.00
Giltner relied on Drew Ott the past two or three years to provide size inside. The Hornets don’t have that this year and that requires some adjustments.
“We’ll have to play it a little different without having as much size,” Drew said. “We’ll increase our pressure a little from in the past. This year on offense we’re a little more dependent on the jump shot. Hopefully we can get hot at the right time.”
Those jumps shots have been falling of late. Drew said Hastings has come on strong late this season.
“Dustin Hastings has really warmed up here at the end of the regular season,” Drew said. “Jake (Findley) has always played well down at state. Dylan Hinrichs had a huge game against them last year at state.
“These guys have been in pressure situations so hopefully that won’t be a factor, but it won’t be a factor for their guys either because they’ve been down there before too.”
Drew said the battle for the D-2 state title appears to be wide open.
“I thought Sacred Heart was the favorite and then they lost their district game to Sterling,” Drew said. “We don’t see the northeast teams a lot so we don’t know what they have. The way (Spalding/Spalding Academy) runs, they’re a very scary team, especially that first round game.
“You have different styles. It’s a wide open field.”