The girls state basketball tournament is just ahead, which can only mean one thing:
Time to dust off the old crystal ball.
It’s been an interesting year in Class A, where Bellevue West has been ranked No. 1 most of the season. The Thunderbirds have performed well for first-year coach Marc Kruger, posting a 25-1 record.
Bellevue West is the logical choice to capture the crown, though the Thunderbirds aren’t invincible. They lost in overtime at Millard West and had two late-season close calls on their home court against Millard North and Bellevue East.
But that’s just one class. Let’s take a look at all six and hope that we’re able to select more winners than colleague Stu Pospisil, who will prognosticate the boys tourney next week.
If the Thunderbirds get past first-round opponent Omaha Benson, defending champion Omaha Central or second-ranked Millard North will be waiting in the semifinals. Dangerous teams — the likes of Millard West, Bellevue East and Lincoln Southeast — lurk on the other side of the bracket.
We’ll stick with the Thunderbirds to make amends for missing state last season while capturing the school’s fourth state title.
First round: Millard West over Lincoln Northeast, Lincoln Southeast over Bellevue East, Bellevue West over Benson, Central over Millard North.
Semifinals: Millard West over Southeast, Bellevue West over Central.
Final: Bellevue West over Millard West.
Sleeper: Bellevue East.
Beatrice is the top seed, but there’s an air of unpredictability in a class in which many of the teams already have faced (and defeated) each other. With that in mind, we’ll take a shot with Seward — the four-time defending state champion — to pull down its fifth title in a row.
First round: Beatrice over South Sioux City, Gretna over Norris, Seward over Holdrege, Grand Island Northwest over McCook.
Semifinals: Beatrice over Gretna, Seward over Northwest.
Final: Seward over Beatrice.
Top-seeded Chadron (22-2) has not lost to a team from Nebraska, suffering both setbacks against St. Thomas More of South Dakota. The Cardinals are for real, but we’re going with a battle-tested Kearney Catholic squad to secure a fourth state title.
First round: Kearney Catholic over Norfolk Catholic, Fillmore Central over Wahoo, Chadron over Lincoln Christian, Minden over Pierce.
Semifinals: Kearney Catholic over Fillmore Central, Minden over Chadron.
Final: Kearney Catholic over Minden.
Nothing is a given at the tourney, but Crofton certainly looks good here. The 24-0 Warriors are the only undefeated team left in the state and the defending champion has to be considered the favorite to win its fifth championship since 2005.
First round: Hastings St. Cecilia over Sutton, North Platte St. Patrick’s over Hershey, Crofton over North Bend, Homer over David City Aquinas.
Semifinals: St. Cecilia over St. Pat’s, Crofton over Homer.
Final: Crofton over St. Cecilia.
Two of the top teams in the class — West Point Guardian Angels Central Catholic and Pender — both lost to Howells-Dodge in subdistricts but nabbed the wild cards. Let’s go with the top-seeded Bluejays to learn from that loss and go on to capture their second straight title and sixth overall.
First round: Pender over Palmer, Emerson-Hubbard over Friend, West Point GACC over Arapahoe, O’Neill St. Mary’s over Sutherland.
Semifinals: Pender over Emerson-Hubbard, GACC over St. Mary’s.
Final: GACC over Pender.
It’s unfortunate that fans won’t get one more chance to see Humphrey’s Alyssa Frauendorfer, who became the eighth player in girls basketball history to go over the 2,000 point mark. Since those Bulldogs aren’t here, we’ll take the other Bulldogs — Lindsay Holy Family — to make up for last year’s state tourney disappointment and take home the title.
First round: Falls City Sacred Heart over Sandhills/Thedford, Deshler over Osmond, Lindsay Holy Family over Wauneta-Palisade, Wynot over Giltner.
Semifinals: Sacred Heart over Deshler, Holy Family over Wynot.
Final: Holy Family over Sacred Heart.
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