Next to the state tournament, the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island brings together the best games and players in one sitting.
The talent in Saturday’s eight games at the Heartland Event Center seems stronger than ever, especially in a year without Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy. Two players are bound for Power Five conferences and four more average 20 points or more a game.
Check out these 10 players, all worth the drive to Grand Island:
De’Ron Davis, Aurora (Colorado) Overland: The 6-foot-10 center signed in November with Indiana. He leads the Trailblazers by averaging 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Aguek Arop, Omaha South: The 6-5 Packer junior is showing why the Huskers got him in the fold as a freshman. He’s averaging 16 points and seven rebounds and usually is good for a highlight play or two. South plays Overland in the 9:15 p.m. main bill.
David Wingett, Winnebago: Already a standout last year as a sophomore on the Indians’ Class C-1 state championship team, the 6-5 junior has expanded his game while leading the state in scoring at 29 points a game. He’s drawing Division I interest.
Austin Allen, Aurora: At 6-8, the junior will get recruiting interest in basketball and in the FBS as a tight end. Averages 15 points a game.
Jaxon Simons, Wahoo Neumann: He, along with brother Ben and fellow junior Noah Vedral, lead the Cavaliers. Jaxon, a 6-2 junior, averages 16 points a game. Neumann plays Aurora in the 7:30 p.m. game.
Brooks Asher, Hastings St. Cecilia: One of the best 3-pointer shooters in the state has been the Bluehawks’ scoring leader the past two seasons. They play Sidney at 5:45 p.m.
Dawson Graham, Gothenburg: He, too, can hit the 3-ball. He had eight against Ainsworth while getting 35 points, three shy of Jay Novacek’s school record. The Swedes play Winnebago at 12:30 p.m.
Andy Kerkman, Clearwater-Orchard: An Augustana recruit, the 6-8 senior cranks out double-doubles routinely and had a stats line last week against Stuart that was an assist short of a quad-double: 13 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists and 15 blocked shots.
Tanner Hudson, Riverside: After averaging 25 points a game as a junior, the 6-5 senior is at 20 points after a 32-point game. Riverside meets Clearwater-Orchard at 10:45 a.m.
Breyden Eckhout, Amherst: Multi-sport athlete, a 6-0 senior, joins junior Trevor Adelung in making the Broncos the highest-scoring team in the state. Eckhout canned eight 3s and scored 33 points Saturday against Loomis to raise his average to 17 a game. Amherst meets Bruning-Davenport/Shickley in the 9 a.m. game.
The Hoops Classic’s all-day ticket prices (no single-game tickets sold) are $16 for adults, $8 for students through high school and $75 for floor/courtside seats.
Top 10/Class A: Fremont’s 81-51 loss at Norfolk is a head-shaker. Was it a one-time blip for a 17-2 team or, given its lack of competition, a better indication of its relative strength? Again, the schedule is not its doing. The Tigers settle in at No. 10 in Class A after being fourth in the Top 10 a week ago.
Class B leader Gretna, Lincoln East, Omaha Central and Millard West all gain two spots. Centennial Conference teams St. Cecilia, Wahoo Neumann and Columbus Scotus fill the final three spots in the Top 10, with Omaha Westside, Norfolk and Fremont the final three in Class A.
Class B: Sidney’s 43-41 home win over Scottsbluff and Beatrice’s 66-41 home thumping of Omaha Skutt shake up the top five. Beatrice rises from fourth to second, Sidney from fifth to third, with Scottsbluff and Skutt the next two.
Ratings newcomers: Crete returns in Class B at No. 10. Other new No. 10s are Wahoo, with an eight-game winning streak, in Class C-1 and Twin River, which lost by three to once-beaten North Bend in the East Husker tournament final, in C-2. Blue Hill debuts in Class D-1 at No. 8, the same position Lewiston now holds in D-2.
Top games this week:
Monday: Millard West at Omaha Westside. Tuesday: Omaha Creighton Prep at Omaha North. Friday: Bellevue West at Fremont, Kearney at Norfolk, Lincoln East at Lincoln North Star, Millard South at Omaha North. Saturday: Norfolk at Lincoln East, Fremont at Lincoln Southeast, Lincoln North Star at Kearney, Papillion-La Vista at Millard South, Omaha North at Millard West
Monday: Lincoln Pius X at Beatrice, Bennington at Omaha Roncalli. Thursday: Pius X at Omaha Gross. Friday: Crete at Aurora, Bennington at Elkhorn. Saturday: Pierce at Bennington
Monday: Adams Central vs. Kearney Catholic (Lou-Platte Conference final at St. Paul), Fillmore Central vs. Milford (Southern Nebraska Conference final at Utica). Tuesday: Columbus Scotus at Wahoo, Hastings St. Cecilia at Adams Central, Platteview at Wahoo Neumann. Thursday: Gothenburg at Ainsworth, West Point Guardian Angels at Pierce. Friday: Bridgeport at Gordon-Rushville. Saturday: Ainsworth at Boone Central/NG, Boys Town at Milford.
Monday: Amherst vs. Axtell (Fort Kearny Conference final at Viaero Center, Kearney), Winnebago vs. Randolph (Lewis & Clark Conference final at Laurel),
Tuesday: Neligh-Oakdale at Battle Creek, Creighton at Norfolk Lutheran, Niobrara/Verdigre at West Holt, Paxton at North Platte St. Patrick’s, Southern Valley at Blue Hill. Thursday: Elmwood-Murdock at Mead. Friday: Dundy County-Stratton at Southern Valley, Boyd County at Niobrara/Verdigre
Tuesday: Heartland at Deshler, South Loup at Anselmo-Merna. Thursday: Osceola at Heartland. Friday: High Plains at Bruning-Davenport/Shickley, Burwell at Grand Island Heartland Lutheran, Blue Hill at Deshler. Saturday: Fremont Bergan at Nebraska City Lourdes.
Tuesday: Humphrey St. Francis at David City Aquinas, Boys Town at Lincoln Parkview, North Andrew (Missouri) at Falls City Sacred Heart. Friday: CWC at Neligh-Oakdale, Lincoln Parkview at Lewiston.
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