At the start of the basketball season, I thought the Lincoln Southeast boys basketball team would be decent, but not cracking the top five in Class A. A month and a half into the season, I firmly believe they are among the top five teams in all of Class A. But the road gets a little treacherous the rest of the season.
It starts with a road trip to Kearney Friday night. Anyone who's played high school basketball against Kearney and played out there knows that it can be a tough atmosphere to play in, especially if the Bearcats are ranked. Then the next night, the Knights come back home to play Papillion-LaVista. To me, that shouldn't be a problem for LSE, but it's a team from the Metro. Never take those teams lightly.
On January 25th, it's a date with longtime rival Lincoln East at home, before heading up to the ruckus atmosphere at Omaha Creighton Prep's Birdcage the next night. See where I'm going with this. Then their in a Pod shootout with Lincoln High, Omaha Bryan and Omaha North the following weekend and finish out the year with Lincoln Pius X, Omaha Burke, Lincoln Northeast and Norfolk.
Anyone of those teams could give Southeast a run for their money. But I have confidence that this Knight ball club can play well and in clutch, if need be. Perhaps the most exciting game they'll have will be with Prep. The Birdcage will be rocking for that game in a about a week.
The two guys that are holding Southeast together are Nick Schleich and Taylor Price. Schleich is the team's leading scorer and has become one of the more premier players in Class A. Southeast will need him through what will be an uneasy road to districts. Head Coach Jeff Smith has his team playing well and at the right time. But he also knows that he can't wear them out, either.
Lincoln High is still a contender, too. The Links have been on the rebound since starting the new year with a loss to Bellevue East at home. Coach Russ Uhing's squad is 8-3 after beating Norfolk last Friday night. They'll have their hands full with a couple of teams this weekend. Lincoln High continues the city's oldest rivalry with a 4-7 Northeast team, that stunned previously rated Grand Island again last weekend, a 51-41 win over the Islanders at the Ed Johnson Gym. Then it's Millard West for the Links. The Wildcats are a team that's quickly becoming a threat to a lot of Omaha area teams.
Coming up next week, I'll do a scene setter for the Prep/Southeast game, which you can hear exclusively on Lincoln Prep Sports.com on Saturday night, January 26th with me and Jim Kelter on the call.