From the 1940s through at least the early 1960s, much of the boys basketball dominance in Lincoln was between Lincoln High and Northeast.
Occasionally, Southeast and Pius X would also compete through the 1950s and '60s and East came along in 1967 to change the landscape a bit.
Now with six LPS high schools and Pius X back down in a Class B role, the Class A scene this season has the city's two oldest rivals battling for supremacy in Lincoln and contenders for playing in the Boys State Basketball Tournament in March.
We're at the midway point of the regular season--clearly a point in time where every single game counts. Lincoln High and Northeast understand that, too. Most importantly, Saturday night's game between the Links and Rockets at the Ed Johnson Gym has a lot at stake, aside from bragging rights.
Lincoln High wants to make a clean sweep over Northeast, after capturing the Heartland Athletic Conference tournament championship Dec. 31 against the Rockets. The Links utilized a momentum swing in the third quarter of that game, by going on an 11-0 run that ultimately gave them a 63-53 victory.
Northeast simply wants revenge and with a major confidence boost of an upset win against previously third-ranked Omaha South on Saturday night, that could very well carry over into the Lincoln High game. Plus, the city championship will likely be on the line.
BUT, the Rockets have another city game on Thursday night at Lincoln East. The Spartans are still licking their wounds after an 83-47 thumping at the hands of Class A No. 1 Omaha Creighton Prep on Saturday.
In my opinion, East, now 5-7, is still a dangerous team. What I mean by that is if their "A-Team" shows up, they'll give their opponent a ballgame. If they don't show up, then it will be a one-sided game.....something Northeast would like to see happen.
East is athletic and has some young, raw talent that could very well be beneficial down the road. Northeast is just as athletic and may be quicker and stronger. The inside game could be difficult for the Spartans to handle.
Looking ahead (and I hate to do so), next Saturday's game may be the biggest in the city all season long. Considering the Ed Johnson Gym has the state's biggest gym capacity at 3,100, the game should be a major draw.
Hey, maybe it will mark the return of "ESPN" to Northeast.
(Photo courtesy of Samantha Harris)
Some of the Northeast students at Saturday night's game with Omaha South decided the game was big enough where ESPN should have brought the Gameday crew to Lincoln. A well improvised way to show your spirit.
Maybe Gameday should be in Lincoln next Saturday. To all Links and Rockets fans, students, parents, faculty and alumni, show your support and show up next Saturday night in what's expected to be a great clash between two outstanding programs.
PREP WILL BE TOUGH TO BEAT
Watching Creighton Prep come down to blow away Lincoln East on Saturday fully convinced me the Junior Jays have another run to the Class A winner's circle up their sleeve.
Quick, physical, sharp, well-disciplined are some ways to describe how Prep should be No. 1. For now, all eyes are looking to the Junior Jays and Norfolk for a post-season clash. Only Omaha South and Omaha Central look as if they could provide a big challenge for Prep the rest of the regular season.
Prep has won a state basketball title each decade dating back to the 1930s, except for the 1950s. Most recently, the Jays won in 2009 in a low-scoring final over Lincoln Southwest.
Still plenty of season left to see who will compete in March. For now, the field is wide open with some likely favorites.