The dubious honor of getting the toughest draw in the Nebraska Prep Classic is Bellevue West's.
Coach Doug Woodard's Thunderbirds (8-2) take on undefeated Topeka Highland Park, which is ranked No. 2 in its class in Kansas, at 9:15 p.m. Saturday in the last of 10 games over two days at Ralston Arena.
“I'm glad Doug is playing Highland Park and not us,'' said Ralston coach Bill Heard, whose team was in a December tournament with the Scots. “They're extremely talented.”
The top Scot might be their leading scorer, 5-foot-10 junior shooting guard Jahmal McMurray. He was second-team all-state as a sophomore and is getting high Division I interest.
Shaffee Carr, another junior, is a 6-5 post who is averaging 13.2 points a game to McMurray's 13.4. Tray Wheeler and Steffon Kyles are seniors who have helped Highland Park outscore its opponents by an average of 23.4 points a game.
“We like a full-court game,'' said Highland Park coach Ken Darting by telephone during a press conference Wednesday for the basketball showcase put on by Jim Huffman and Tom Krehbiel of Omaha.
Bellevue West is getting its top player, 6-4 senior forward Deon Pettigrew, back in action after a torn patella tendon sidelined him for four weeks.
“I still have a little pain, but I'll play through it,'' Pettigrew said.
Among other top players in the Nebraska Prep Classic are Omaha Benson junior guard Khyri Thomas, Northwest Missouri State recruit Brett Dougherty of Papillion-La Vista, Pittsburg State (Kan.) recruit Josiah Gustafson of Millard North and Omaha Creighton Prep senior guard Kevin Dineen.
The event includes three girls games. Bellevue West's girls, who won the Metro holiday title last week, play Sioux City Heelan at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. Heelan's boys then play Papio at 7:45.
Tickets are $10 for adults each day and $7 for students. If spectators buy their tickets through the participating schools or at the arena box office in advance, each ticket will include a voucher for a free hot dog, chips and drink at the arena's concession stands.
Schedule of games:
Friday—4 p.m.: Papillion-La Vista South girls vs. Millard North. 5:30 p.m.: Omaha Benson girls vs. Gretna. 7 p.m.: Benson vs. Boys Town. 8:30 p.m.: Papio-LV South vs. Millard North.
Saturday—1:45 p.m.: Ralston vs. Lincoln Pius X. 3:15 p.m.: Lincoln Northeast vs. Gretna. 4:45 p.m.: Omaha Creighton Prep vs. Lincoln Southwest. 6:15 p.m.: Bellevue West girls vs. Sioux City Heelan. 7:45 p.m.: Papillion-La Vista vs. Heelan. 9:15 p.m.: Bellevue West vs. Topeka (Kan.) Highland Park.
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