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02/24/2013 - From The Press Box: The Final Round-Up For State Basketball at "The Bob"
 Thousands of basketball fans who have entered through the gates of the Bob Devaney Sports Center in the past 37 years have a favorite memory they love to talk about.  

Beau Reid's basket to lift Nebraska over eventual national champion, Kansas, in 1988.  

Bruce Springsteen and Huey Lewis and The News concerts in 1984. Garth Brooks' sold out shows in 1997.

Visits from Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  

High School basketball's greatest moments.

The list can go on and on.  This marks the final year of basketball played full time at Devaney, college and high school, with the Pinnacle Bank Arena nearing completion.  Nebraska volleyball will become the new tenant in the fall, after Devaney undergoes a $20-million renovation.  

Like me, you have favorite memories of the Devaney Center in a basketball capacity.  Share them on our Facebook page.

My first experience at Devaney was the 1982 boys state basketball tournament as a youngster when Lincoln Northeast beat Omaha Northwest and Ron Kellogg 61-54 to win the Class A state championship.  

Twelve years later, I would run out on to the same floor as a sophomore reserve on the Northeast team that fell to Omaha Creighton Prep in the title game 57-44.  But the next two years for me were memorable, as we captured the Class A crown against Millard South and Columbus.  Northeast would win two more titles in that four-year run.

The thrill for me to run out onto the floor at Devaney would be like a high school football player playing at Memorial Stadium.  It had been a dream of mine since I was a kid and here I am achieving what I wanted to do.

March 11, 1976 was opening day of the Boys State Basketball tournament and the first game played was Omaha Burke vs. Columbus.  The court had temporary lines laid out to form the boundaries and free throw lanes.  No bleachers were in the A section, or court level, and 15,000 plus filed in to watch Lincoln Northeast beat Hastings on opening day and hit capacity again the next night as the Rockets fell to eventual state champion Creighton Prep.

Prep, led by all-staters Ted Parks, Chris Salerno and guard Brent Armstrong, beat Omaha North 48-44 for the Class A title.  North featured a phenom named Mike McGee, who starred at Michigan before a 10-year NBA career, most notably with "Showtime" in Los Angeles with the Lakers squads of the early to mid-1980s.

Aurora won Class B in a 53-52 thriller over Holdrege.  Geneva won Class C and Nelson Class D to complete the 1976 tournament, which was a success at what was then known as the Nebraska Sports Complex.   Two years later, the NU Board of Regents voted to rename the building as it's currently known "Bob Devaney Sports Center."

As long as we're on the high school basketball theme with the state tournament, let's reflect on some great moments at Devaney.

Perhaps topping the list would be the championship games of the 1989 Class A and Class B tournaments.  For the second straight year, Wahoo and Lincoln Pius X met for the B championship and it was once of the classic finishes to a high school game.

Wahoo trailed with 11 seconds left in regulation, when Bernie Inbody hit a 30-foot shot and stole the in-bounds pass and found Troy Glock, who fired a 28-footer that bounced off the backboard and through the hoop to force overtime.  It's considered, by many, the loudest roar ever in Devaney Center history.  Wahoo won 68-66.

In the Class A title game that followed, Millard South's Matt Kelly scored off a layup that broke a tied ballgame to give the Indians a 47-45 victory over Columbus. It completed the first undefeated season in Class A since Omaha South in 1960.

Two years beforehand, in the 1987 Class A championship game, Norfolk's Chris Price hit a 23-foot jump shot deep in the left corner to give the Panthers a 62-61 win over Northeast that sent Norfolk fans into a frenzy.  The Panthers won their first and only boys basketball title.

Creighton Prep won their second title in five years, when Kerry Trotter sank two free-throws late in the game to beat Omaha Benson 54-53 in the 1981 Class A tourney.

Wahoo's streak of four state titles and 114 win streak ended in the 1992 Class B semifinals as Ogallala upset the Warriors 84-68.  Pius X would beat Ogallala the next night to win the state championship.

In that same 1992 state tourney, Andre Woolridge went crazy and scored 50 points in the Class A title game to give Omaha Benson a 95-76 victory over Hastings.  Woolridge's performance broke the state tourney record of 45 set by Kent Reckewey of Lincoln East in 1971.

Like Wahoo and Northeast, Clearwater and Falls City were boys teams that won four championships in a row at Devaney.  South Sioux City girls took home 10 of 11 Class B crowns, with 1999 the only blemish as Ogallala won the title 69-58 over Cardinals.

Omaha Central, on two occasions, has won three straight boys state titles.  The 2006 championship was an 84-79 overtime thriller over Bellevue West.  Both teams met in the championship game the next year with Central winning again in overtime 93-84.  The Eagles also became the first Nebraska team in modern history to go 30-0 in a season, capped off by the 2012 Class A crown.

One of the more thrilling finishes in recent years was the 2009 Class D2 championship, when Sterling's Zach Lempka hit a 15-foot jump shot with six seconds left in overtime to give the Jets a 49-48 victory over Ewing.

The state's greatest players made Devaney center stage for their performances.

In the early years, it was Mike McGee at Omaha North; followed by Jim Honz at Omaha Ryan, Crale Bauer at Hildreth, Derek Sailors, Paul Baker and Alex Stivrins of Lincoln East; Dean Thompson of Omaha Westside, Dave Hoppen at Omaha Benson, Kerry Trotter and Vic Lazzaretti of Creighton Prep, Ron Kellogg from Omaha Northwest, Dana Janssen of Lincoln Northeast, Joel and Jay Sealer at Millard South, Bart Kofoed at Westside, Bill Jackman of Grant.

In the mid 80s to early 90s, it was Rich King and Dan Olson at Omaha Burke; along with Tony Manuel at Omaha Northwest, Erick Strickland at Bellevue West, Andre Woolridge at Omaha Benson, Troy and Jason Glock of Wahoo, Terrence Badgett of Omaha South, Ryan Elrod of Lincoln Northeast, Nick Orduna of Lincoln Christian.

Mid 90s to the new milenium, TJ Pugh and Othello Meadows of Creighton Prep, Alton Mason, Mike Hahn, Tee Mason, B.J. Nannen, David Mercer, Trevor Johnson and Jimmy Motz of Lincoln Northeast; Jon Bowling, Cory Adams, J.R. Edwards, Jake Muhleisen and Nick Bahe of Lincoln Southeast; Alvin Mitchell of Omaha Burke; Ben Ries of Norfolk, Wes Wilkinson of Grand Island; Lindley Thompson of Paxton, Tom Cockle and Andrew Drevo of Lincoln Christian.  There's also Zach Fortune, Josh Dotzler, Antoine Young and Michael Jenkins of Bellevue West; Josh Jones, Deverell Biggs and Akoy Agau of Omaha Central; Wes Eikmeier of Fremont Bergan; Greg Smith of Ralston; and Mike Gesell of South Sioux City.

You get the picture, right?  

As we embark on the girls and boys state tournaments this year, let's hope it goes out with a bang at Devaney.  Next year, a new tradition will be established at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Again, I encourage you to share your memories of the Devaney Center on our Facebook page:

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