February begins with Howells-Dodge and Elkhorn South as the last unbeaten teams in boys basketball.
Howells-Dodge (17-0), which has extended its winning streak to 46 games, could move into the top 10 all-time for longest streaks during this week’s East Husker Conference tournament. Currently in 10th is a 48-game streak by Arlington that ended in the 1986 state tournament.
The Class D-1 No. 1 Jaguars have an average winning margin of 24 points this season. After starting with a double-overtime win against C-1 Pierce, they haven’t had a game closer than 10 points.
Should they get through their conference tournament final Saturday at Central Community College in Columbus, the Jaguars have only one winning opponent — conference rival Bancroft-Rosalie (16-2) — in their remaining four games. A 24-0 regular season seems attainable.
How about Elkhorn South (16-0), leading the Class B rankings and sitting sixth in the all-class Top 10? None of the Storm’s final six regular-season opponents has a winning record, but included in the mix are two Class A teams — Grand Island (3-14) in Heartland Hoops Classic at the Heartland Events Center on Feb. 15 and Omaha Northwest (7-8) on Feb. 21.
The game with the Huskies could be the make-or-break for the Storm’s perfect regular season, especially since they will come off an emotional matchup the night before against rival Elkhorn (5-11).
Last week’s set of conference tournaments resulted in new No. 1 teams for Classes C-1, C-2 and D-2.
Lincoln Christian (13-4) easily claims the top spot in C-1 after last week’s No. 2 won the Centennial Conference championship by defeating then-C-1 No. 1 Wahoo Neumann, C-2 No. 1 Hastings St. Cecilia and former C-1 ratings leader Columbus Scotus in the finals.
With St. Cecilia falling in the Centennial semifinals, Hartington Cedar Catholic returns to No. 1 in C-2. The Trojans (13-4) are playing this week in the strong Mid-State Conference tourney in Norfolk as the No. 2 seed, with the top seed going to C-1 No. 4 Wayne (15-3).
In D-2, High Plains dropped from the undefeated ranks as Exeter-Milligan avenged a two-point December loss with a 59-50 win for the Crossroads Conference tournament title in York.
Falls City Sacred Heart (16-2), which hosts the final two rounds of the Pioneer Conference meet this weekend, is the new No. 1 in D-2. Exeter-Milligan (14-3) rises from sixth to second and High Plains (16-1) is third.
Heartland Hoops: Tickets are on sale for the eight-game carnival on Feb. 15 at the Heartland Events Center. Teams playing include Top 10 No. 1 Omaha Central (against Denver East), No. 4 Norfolk and No. 6 Elkhorn South.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for students. Still available as of Monday were courtside seats at $70. All tickets are good for all eight games. Tickets can be purchased at the Heartland Events Center box office or through ticketmaster.com.
Schedule: 9 a.m., Overton vs. Sutton. 10:45, Freeman vs. High Plains. 12:30 p.m., Elkhorn South vs. Grand Island. 2:15, Wahoo Neumann vs. Grand Island Northwest. 4 p.m., Norfolk Catholic vs. Doniphan-Trumbull. 5:45, Southern Valley vs. Grand Island Central Catholic. 7:30, Norfolk vs. Kearney. 9:15, Omaha Central vs. Denver East.
Top games this week:
Class C-1 — Tuesday: Seward at Columbus Lakeview. Friday: Columbus Scotus at Wahoo Neumann. Saturday: Neumann at Seward, Lakeview at York, Wahoo at Grand Island CC.
Class D-1 — Tuesday: Paxton at North Platte SP. Friday: Chase County at North Platte SP, Spalding/SA at Burwell.
Class D-2 — Saturday: Spalding/SA at Humphrey SF
Conference tournaments Note: Weather postponements could change schedules. Check with your local participating school or the tournament host school.
East Central Nebraska: Semifinals Friday and final Saturday at Southeast Community College, Lincoln
East Husker: Final Saturday at Central Community College, Columbus
Fort Kearny: Semifinals Friday and final Saturday at Viaero Event Center, Kearney
Lewis & Clark: Semifinals Saturday at Randolph; final Feb. 10 at Laurel
Lou-Platte: Semifinals Friday and final Saturday at Ord
Loup Valley: Semifinals Thursday and final Saturday at Broken Bow
Mid-State: Semifinals Friday and final Saturday at Northeast Community College, Norfolk
Niobrara Valley: Semifinals Thursday at Orchard and final Saturday at Atkinson
Pioneer: Semifinals Thursday and final Saturday at Falls City (Prichard Auditorium)
Southern Nebraska: Semifinals Thursday and final Saturday at Milford
Twin Valley: Semifinals Thursday and final Saturday at Adams Central, Hastings
Western Trails: Semifinals Friday and final Saturday at Western Nebraska Community College, Scottsbluff