The dynamics of Friday night’s Omaha Central-Omaha South boys basketball game have changed in the past week, but not the anticipation.
South is preparing for a full house of 2,100 spectators for its 7:15 p.m. home game.
“To my knowledge, they’ve never filled the gym before,” South coach Bruce Chubick said. “They played their home games at Norris the last time South won a state title (1990).”
Chubick would like to see another first — a win over the Eagles, which hasn’t happened in his eight years as Packers coach.
“There’s been a lot of close calls even when we were getting the program off the ground,” he said. “We just have to come and put four quarters together.”
South (17-1) has taken over the state’s No. 1 ranking from Central following the Eagles’ 67-58 loss at Papillion-La Vista last Saturday that ended their 50-game instate winning streak. Central (16-3) is third in this week’s Top 10, with Papio in second.
“We didn’t need a loss for this game to have our attention,” Central coach Eric Behrens said. “It’s been circled as a big game. Now they’re No. 1 in the state and playing at home. I hope it’s a big-time atmosphere and a big game.”
If South had its druthers, Chubick said, Central would still be on its instate winning streak.
“Our guys were disappointed. They wanted to be the team that beat them first,” he said. “I admit I was a little disappointed, too. I don’t know if that’s the right way to think about it.”
Central has beaten the Packers five times since the start of the 2011-12 season, by margins of 29, 15, 18, 16 and 13 points.
The most recent matchup was in the Metro Conference holiday tournament final at the Civic Auditorium. South led by one after the first quarter, then was outscored 23-10 in the second quarter of a 64-51 loss.
“We had the lead and we were going inside, then that second quarter we took like five 3s and got away from our game plan of attacking inside,” Chubick said. “Our guards have to remember what the plan is and stay with the program.”
Behrens said Central must keep the Packers off the foul line and the offensive boards.
“And we have to handle their pressure,” he said. “We have to be strong and fight through the contact on the perimeter and in the fullcourt. It’s a physical-type pressure and a lot of it is about toughness.”
Behrens is prepared to play without three-year starter and defensive whiz Tra-Deon Hollins, out for the past two weeks with a high ankle sprain.
“We probably won’t know for sure until before the game,” the Central coach said. “He wants to play, but it’s not worth coming back too early and hurting it again.”
Louisville recruit Akoy Agau, a 6-foot-8 senior with a 13.1-point average, leads four Central starters who are averaging at least 11 points a game.
Senior guard Cam Williams tops the South lineup with his 18.3-point average. He had a career-high 35 points against No. 5 Omaha Benson on Jan. 19.
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