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03/05/2013 - From The Press Box: Devaney Sports Center Run Starts and Ends With Boys Basketball Tourney

The first game played at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on March 11, 1976 was the Class A Boys State basketball tournament matchup between Omaha Burke and Columbus.  The 37-year run in basketball at Devaney ends this weekend with the Boys State Basketball Tournament. (Courtesy of NU Athletics)

 The NSAA Boys State Basketball tournament will be the final event to be held at the Bob Devaney Sports Center, for basketball related championship events.

About 37 years after the first tournament to play at what was then known as the Nebraska Sports Complex, the final curtain will be drawn on Saturday night, once all six champions have been crowned.

However, the Devaney Center may still be used as a secondary site for early tournament games in the future.  University of Nebraska officials plan to keep the basketball floor as a backup while rennovations get underway early next week to convert the arena to fit a volleyball-style setting.

As I mentioned in a previous "From The Press Box," there are plenty of memories from Devaney that will forever be cherished for those who won and came up short of winning championships.

For me, it's three years of playing at the Devaney Center, coming away with a runner-up and two state championships as a player on the Lincoln Northeast basketball team.

One memory I will never forget was a few years before I reached high school, when Norfolk beat Northeast 62-61 to win the 1987 Class A championship.  Chris Price (in photo) hit a 20-foot shot deep in the left corner with six seconds remaining to give the Panthers their first and only boys basketbal title. 

Three years later, Northeast returned to the Class A finals to face Omaha South.  Matt Shaw threw a three-quarters of the court one-handed shot at the end of the first quarter that rattled in and out and back in to give the Rockets a 19-16 first quarter lead.  But South rallied to win the game 65-53.

When the tournament moved to the Devaney Center in March 1976, there were no floor seats and everyone had to sit in the B and C-sections of the arena.

Omaha Burke vs. Columbus was the first game of the day in Class A, with the Bulldogs earning a 73-60 victory before losing to Omaha North in the semifinals 58-52.  Omaha Creighton Prep won the Class A crown, after defeating Omaha Northwest in the first round 62-42 and Lincoln Northeast in the semifinals 64-49, finally beating Omaha North in the championship 48-44.

 The first ever NBA product to play at the Devaney Center was North's Mike McGee (pictured below on the left), who would later return with the Michigan Wolverines and play the Nebraska Mens basketball team in the first round of the 1980 NIT. 

Aurora won Class B in 1976, while Geneva won the Class C crown and Nelson captured Class D in the first tourney at Devaney.

Like last week, we're asking you to share your favorite memories of your experience at the Devaney Center over the years.  Go to to post your comments.



Be sure to log on to for coverage of the boys state basketball tournament starting Thursday.  I'll have the call of the Class C1 first round game at Pershing Center with Lincoln Christian against top-seed Wahoo at 2pm.  You can hear the game through our mobile link below. Mobile Link

Because of the close proximity of the LCS/Wahoo game at Pershing, we will not originate the Class A first round game with Lincoln Southeast and Papillion-LaVista at 3:45pm.  You can hear that through a link on the main page, courtesy of KFOR 1240 with Dick Janda on the play-by-play.

We'll have the Waverly/Gretna Class B first round game at 8:45pm with Casey Dittenber on the call.  No mobile feed will be provided for this game.


My pick for Class A will be either Omaha Central or Omaha South.  Central is likely to walk away with their fourth straight state title, but South could give them a run for their money and possibly take away the championship trophy, if they take the Eagles out of their game.

Class B looks as if Scottsbluff could repeat.  However, Ralston, Elkhorn South and Waverly look to be contenders to pick up the championship.

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