2018 Boys State Basketball Tournament Regional Glance
Tip-off in Lincoln Thursday won’t include any teams from Nebraska’s Panhandle but there are a handful of schools from the west we see often in the regular season that will be vying for state championships.
Class C1 – #8 Ogallala vs. #1 Wahoo
The Ogallala Indians (13-14) are no strangers to post-season play making their 22nd trip to State, but this is the first visit since 2004 and the Indians are seeking their first state championship. Ogallala brings in a balanced scoring team with four players averaging 9.5 ppg or higher led by junior Cameron Raffaeli’s 13.4 scoring average.
Ogallala has a really difficult match-up in the opening round against another well-balanced squad from Wahoo High School. The Warriors are the top seed at 24-2 and are seeking its 11th state championship. With five guys scoring between 8-16 points a game they’ll be difficult to narrow down on defensively.
Ogallala and Wahoo play at the Devaney Center Thursday morning at 9:45 MT
Class C2 – #8 Perkins County vs. #1 Ponca
Coach Shawn Cole leads the Perkins County Plainsmen into its 3rd state tournament as a consolidated school and first trip since the 2008 brackets. Of course those that have been around western Nebraska for years know that Grant High School was a total powerhouse for years making 31 tourneys and winning seven state titles, so there is a basketball pedigree from the area that Perkins will take into Lincoln.
Senior guard Josh Johnston is the teams leading scorer at 13.5 a game and has a 6’4″ forward to utilize in the post in Charles Johnson who scores almost 12 points a night.
Perkins enters the tournament after knocking out Bridgeport in the C2-6 district championship game 43-42.
Top-seed Ponca will be a massive challenge with its four-headed scoring monster of guys all between 6’2″ and 6’6.” Ponca is 27-1 and making its 16th state trip while looking to repeat as champions.
Perkins County-Ponca gets underway at Lincoln Southeast High School Thursday evening at 6:00 MT.
Class D1 – #2 Paxton vs. #7 Lourdes CC
The Paxton Tigers are another one of those western Nebraska teams that always seems to find itself among the contenders for a trip to boys state basketball. 2018 marks the 23rd trip in school history and first since 2015 as the Tigers seek a third state championship.
Longtime Head Coach Jody Rhodes has a 22-1 squad that will aim to dump the basketball into the big fella inside – 6’9″ sophomore Blake Brewster – who scores 16.4 a game.
The Tigers will get seven-seed and defending D1 champ Lourdes Central Catholic in the opener at 8:00 MT Thursday morning at Lincoln Northeast High School.
Lourdes CC is 18-8 and making just its sixth state appearance. The Knights will counter Paxton’s Brewster with a tall forward tandem of its own – 6’8″ Quentin Vasa and 6’6″ Brandon Friedrichs who combine to score 25.6 points per game.
Class D2 – #8 Cody-Kilgore vs. #1 Falls City Sacred Heart
The Cody-Kilgore Cowboys have had some impressive teams over the years but the 2018 version is headed to State as an eight-seed underdog with a 12-8 record and champions of the D2-6 district.
It’s the sixth state tournament for CKHS and first since 2003. Of its top producers, the Cowboys bring in a mix of experience that includes a senior duo of forward Garrett Egger and guard Tyce Stoner who combine for 21.2 points per game.
Falls City Sacred Heart is another one of those schools that always seems to be at state. The Irish are guided under legendary coach Doug Goltz who earned his 600th victory in December. This year’s Irish are 22-3 but were upset in the playoffs by Mead 40-39 and needed a wildcard to get into the bracket.
The Irish are seeking their eighth state championship, Cody-Kilgore its second.
Cody-Kilgore and FCSH gets underway at Lincoln Southeast High School Thursday morning at 8:00 MT.
Class D2 – #3 Mullen vs #6 Mead
The Mullen Broncos are 19-5 and are the three-seed looking to win back-to-back D2 state titles after cracking through the for the school’s first championship last winter.
The Broncos look to be best in the low block with two forwards that are seniors, and who account for over 25 points a game. Maybe the X-factor is at the guard spot where freshman Brendon Walker has experienced a good inaugural year as a scorer and distributor.
Mullen gets to see the team it beat in last season’s finals 29-28 in this year’s opener, the Mead Raiders. Mead is an interesting team because although it’s the #6 seed, Mead is under .500 at 11-12 but somehow upset FCSH to make the trip to Lincoln.
Mead is no stranger to state with 24 appearances but this year relies heavily on one player: senior guard Josh Quinn scores 18.1 a game and leads the team defensively with 50 steals. He’ll have help from a pair of six footers that combine for 18 more points.
Mullen and Mead play the final D2 game of opening day at 7:45 MT in Lincoln Northeast’s gym.