Pinnacle Bank Arena

Some fans got creative in how they filled seats that would have otherwise had students sitting in them.

LINCOLN — The executive director of the NSAA said Monday that he was satisfied with how the boys basketball state tournament turned out last weekend after fan limits were put in place.

“We wanted to have the whole fan population there, but limiting the fans was not only a recommendation, but a joint decision with the city (of Lincoln) and the state along with the Lancaster County Health Department,” Jay Bellar said Monday.

“It was the best thing we could have done.”

The tournament stayed on schedule as professional and college leagues suspended play and canceled many events, including the NCAA basketball tournaments.

In high schools, by last Saturday 11 states had canceled their remaining basketball championships and another 15 had tournaments postponed or suspended.

Besides Nebraska, Louisiana, Missouri and New Mexico were the only states playing on Saturday and also with fan limits.

“It’s pretty amazing that we are one of the few states that are actually playing,” Southern Valley coach Tylor Fincher said on Saturday. “I’m just really happy that we got the opportunity, and our seniors especially, all the work that they’ve put in this, it’s really great that they got to play.”

Bellar said that during the tournament’s three days in Lincoln he continually checked, and the recommendations had not changed.

“As I had gotten more pressure (to not play), I kept going with the decision to play because of the information we had on Wednesday, and that hadn’t changed,” he said. “For the kids and the parents, I’m glad we got to finish.

“We tried to do everything we can to the best we can.”

Coaches of teams in Saturday’s finals repeatedly thanked the NSAA for letting the tournament play out.

“We drove back Thursday night to scout the late games in Class B,” Omaha Skutt coach Kyle Jurgens said Saturday. “And maybe I shouldn’t say this, but at one point when Kansas canceled theirs (after one day), the four of us coaches, I don’t think anybody talked for like 10 minutes. And then all of sudden, it was like, ‘Oh, snap out of it. It’s not us, you know, we still got a shot.’ ”

Bellar said he’s apologized to Ogallala, which received a fourth-place trophy after its team lost Saturday in the Class C-1 final to Auburn.

He said the trophies come boxed to the NSAA and usually the first- and second-place trophies are in one container and those for third and fourth place in another. But for Class C-1, the first- and fourth-place awards were packaged together and all that was noticed, Bellar said, was one trophy was larger than the other.

He said NSAA board member Troy Unzicker of Alliance took the correct trophy to Ogallala on his way home from Lincoln.