Scott Steinbrook remembers a time not long ago when his teams would hope to reach the state tournament.
“Now it’s the expectation,” the Kearney coach said. “Not that we’re complaining.”
His fourth-ranked Bearcats on Wednesday were named one of the seven hosts for the boys district tournaments.
It’s the fifth straight season Kearney has hosted a district at UNK’s Foster Field.
Other first-round hosts for the boys include (in order of seed): Grand Island, Omaha South, Omaha Creighton Prep, Omaha Westside, Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln Pius X.
Steinbrook, who brings his team to Omaha Thursday for a 3:30 p.m. match at No. 5 Millard West, said hosting is a huge factor when it comes to the Bearcats’ chances of making a postseason run.
“Based on our geography,” he said, “it’s pretty important for us. We spend enough time on the road during the regular season.”
Kearney opens District A-4 play on Monday with a 5 p.m. match against North Platte (1-11). The Bearcats have won both matches in the season series, the last one coming just more than a week ago in a 7-0 rout.
The first meeting, in the Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference tournament, was much closer — a 2-0 win for Kearney.
“We won very uncomfortably,” Steinbrook said. “We’ve been pushed a number of times.”
At 13-0 entering play Thursday, Kearney is one of just three remaining unbeaten teams in Class A. But the Bearcats’ two toughest games of the season on paper — at No. 7 Lincoln Southwest and hosting second-ranked Grand Island — were canceled because of weather in a three-day span.
To say Steinbrook is looking forward to Thursday’s showdown with a Top 5 foe in Millard West would be an understatement.
“They’re a gauge and a team that is probably going to be in the state tournament every year,” Steinbrook said. “We want games like this.”
Hosts for the Class A girls districts are Omaha Marian, Millard North, Lincoln Pius X, North Platte, Papillion-La Vista South, Kearney and Lincoln East.
Schedules for Class B districts, based on geography, were also released Wednesday. District play is slated for Monday through Thursday next week.
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