Omaha Benson got the sweep, Omaha South showed resiliency, Omaha Westside had trouble handling success and Omaha Central’s bubble burst.
That, in short, is how the weekend played out for those four as Benson and Westside traded off playing Central and South.
Benson’s wins of 65-60 against South and 71-59 over Central return the Bunnies (17-2) to No. 1, where they started in the preseason. It’s the latest in a season they’ve held the top ranking since 1992, when they won Class A for the only time.
Coach Donnie Johnson’s team is now 2-0 against South and 2-1 against Central this season. Benson played them in the same order at the OPS Jamboree to start the season.
“This mirrors the first week,” Johnson said. “It was two good wins and we’ll celebrate the moment and then prepare for the next step.”
Benson has five more games in the regular season, but only its Feb. 22 wrapup at Omaha Creighton Prep (9-7) is against a team with a winning record.
Let’s skip now to Central (16-3), which lost games on consecutive days for the first time since January 2003.
The Eagles’ 15-game winning streak and five-year homecourt winning streak ended with Friday’s 58-51 loss to Westside, then they never led in the final three quarters at Benson while getting outrebounded by 12.
“You don’t win championships that way,” coach Eric Behrens said.
How will they respond? Last year after back-to-back losses, it was a veteran group led by Akoy Agau and Tra-Deon Hollins that righted the Eagles for the stretch run.
While they are starting five seniors, four are first-year starters surrounding Tre’Shawn Thurman and last weekend was the first time they encountered adversity.
Now at No. 4 in the rankings, the Eagles play winless Bellevue East on Thursday before their Heartland Hoops Classic game Saturday in Grand Island against Denver East (15-3). Also ahead is a Feb. 21 game at Bellevue West.
South (14-5) showed much moxie, as did injured center Kevin Harkins, when it salvaged a weekend split by winning 58-43 at Westside. Harkins played on a stress fracture in his left foot, an injury that happened late in the Benson game.
Had South lost to the Warriors, it would have been four defeats in five games. Instead, the Packers move up to No. 2.
Their remaining schedule is difficult. It includes games this weekend against Millard South and Lincoln Southeast and a Feb. 22 game at Bellevue West.
Westside (13-5) was in line to be No. 2, since Benson won in the afternoon, when it took the court against South. But a No. 3 ranking this week for the Warriors still is their highest since the 2003-04 season.
Westside coach Brian Nemecek said he thought his team was tired from Friday night’s game and not mentally ready for Saturday’s.
Outside of the top four last week, Norfolk had a pair of close-call wins that drop the Panthers a rung to fifth. They edged Fremont 51-50 at home and needed overtime to beat a Lincoln High team that lost for the seventh time in nine games.
Lincoln Southeast (15-4) is pressuring Class B leader Elkhorn South (18-0) for sixth as the Knights now have the longest winning streak in Class A at six.
No. 8 Bellevue West and No. 9 Omaha Burke each won twice. Fremont remains No. 10 in the Top 10 and Omaha Creighton Prep stays 10th in Class A despite a loss Saturday night to Bellevue West.
Class B: Beatrice’s 42-35 home win over Omaha Skutt squared their season series and lets the Orangemen return to No. 2.
With Gering beating then-No. 5 Sidney and the Red Raiders coming back to beat Scottsbluff, there are several changes favoring eastern teams. Lincoln Pius X rises to fifth, with Norris sixth and Bennington seventh. Gering, Sidney and Scottsbluff follow.
Class A projection: Coaches from Westside and Millard West watched South Sioux City’s game Thursday night at Omaha Skutt, a 19-point setback for the Cardinals.
With that loss, South Sioux is no longer sixth in the Class A point standings — it’s tied for fourth with Lincoln Southeast. It would be hosting a district that currently would include Millard South, North Platte and Grand Island.
The top three teams in the point standings, with two weeks before Class A’s district seedings and assignments are made, are Benson, Central and Norfolk.
Top games this week:
Class A—Friday: Lincoln North Star at Norfolk, Bellevue West at Omaha Northwest, Fremont at Lincoln High, Omaha Burke at Lincoln East, Omaha South at Millard South. Saturday: Lincoln High at Millard South, Lincoln Southeast at Omaha South, Burke at Omaha Westside
Class B—Tuesday: Sioux City Heelan at Omaha Skutt, South Sioux City at Ralston. Thursday: Lincoln Pius X at Beatrice, Bennington at Omaha Roncalli, Skutt at Norris. Friday: York at Seward, Sidney at Chadron, Waverly at Plattsmouth. Saturday: Norris at Lincoln Christian, Plattsmouth at Milford.