Tino Martinez still has his neck. His shirt. His tournament.
The organizer of the Heartland Hoops Classic said he stuck his neck out a year ago when he booked Oak Hill Academy to play Omaha Central in last Saturday’s marquee game. It was roughly a $20,000 outlay above his usual expenses for the one-day showcase event at Grand Island’s Heartland Events Center.
“I didn’t know if we were going to be dead in the water after this deal or if we were going to be able to keep it going,” Martinez told the Grand Island Independent.
Ticket sales of more than 6,000 — for a 5,200-seat arena — will let Martinez keep his shirt and bring back the Heartland Classic for a seventh year and probably longer.
Central, in the second year of a two-year contract, is the only team he has signed for 2014. Martinez said he held off contracting with other teams until he saw how this year’s showcase was supported.
“I’m playing around with a couple different things,” he told me Saturday night. “I know Central will be back. We have Findlay Prep (from Las Vegas) on the hook, we have a couple schools out of Chicago we’re interested in. I’ve talked to Montverde (from Florida). Oak Hill is so easy to work with and so gracious, I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing them back.
“It would be fun to have a classic with a bunch of these type of teams, Omaha-type teams or other areas. We need to see where it takes us.”
Martinez said he would have an announcement in the next few weeks regarding next year’s matchups.
“I don’t think we need to draw more,” he said. “We need to do everything we can to create a good atmosphere, whether it’s 2,000 here or 6,000 like (Saturday). I think everybody had a good day.”
40-point rule? Based on voting in its legislative districts, the Nebraska School Activities Association board of directors in April is likely to approve a running clock for basketball games whenever a team leads by 40 points at halftime or in the second half. The rules for the running clock would be similar to football, which has a 35-point rule, except that normal timing would not resume if the lead falls below 40 points.
The proposal came out of District I at the first round of legislative meetings, then gained support in four more during the second-round voting in January.
Here’s the rationale attached to the proposal:
“It will reduce the severity of ‘blowout’ games, encourage coaches to play more reserve players in games where this would occur, lessen the hurt of the team on the losing end and perhaps give the team on the short end the chance to play against competition they can compete with. This change also makes it easier for coaches who play their reserves to not have to tell kids to ‘make 10 passes’ or ‘no fast breaks,’ etc.”
I’d like to know what readers think about this proposal. Drop me an email to email@example.com and put “40-Point Rule” in the subject field. I’ll report back.
Healthy again: Norfolk Catholic, which returns to the Class C-1 ratings at No. 10, has gotten past several injuries — notably to Nebraska football recruited walk-on Connor Ketter — that kept it from practicing with its entire varsity roster. The Knights are 13-9 after starting the season as the preseason favorites in C-1. They beat preseason No. 3 Boys Town 68-50 in the Heartland Classic.
“We’re getting close,” Knights coach Shane Anderson said.
Norfolk Catholic finishes the regular season with a home game against Class C-2 No. 6 Hartington Cedar Catholic on Friday, then is in a subdistrict with C-1 No. 3 Boone Central/Newman Grove.
Early clinchers: By Saturday, Kearney Catholic and Wahoo in Class C-1 and Howells-Dodge in D-1 could start packing for the state tournaments. Those are three teams, that if they avoid losses in the final week of the regular season, that are projected to be able to clinch wild-card berths to state prior to the start of the postseason. Subdistrict pairings from the Nebraska School Activities Association will come out Tuesday.
Wahoo (21-0) and Howells-Dodge (22-0), along with Paxton (21-0) and Kenesaw (20-0) from D-1, are the last undefeated boys teams in the state.
Ratings notes: Two-time defending champion Giltner takes over at No. 1 in Class D-2. Previous No. 1 Wausa lost to Bancroft-Rosalie in the Lewis & Clark Conference tournament final last week. With the win, Bancroft jumps from eighth to fourth and Wausa tumbles to fifth.
Statistics due: Coaches in Class A, Class B and Omaha-area schools are reminded to submit their updated statistics to me by Tuesday night.
Top games this week:
Class C-1—Thursday: Columbus Scotus at David City Aquinas. Friday: Adams Central at Kearney Catholic, Hartington Cedar Catholic at Norfolk Catholic.
Class C-2—Friday: Norfolk Lutheran Northeast at West Point GACC, Twin River at Humphrey St. Francis.
Class D-1—Friday: Overton at Gibbon, Pawnee City at Southern.
Class D-2—Friday: McCool Junction at Giltner, Sterling at Freeman.
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