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05/20/2012 - From The Press Box: 'Bolts and Rockets Have Great Runs at State, Hoops Legend Boozer Dies

Jeff Motz

Lincoln Pius X became the first Lincoln team to win a state baseball title in 35 years last Thursday night.   The Thunderbolts beat Norris 2-1 at Haymarket Park to bring home the Class B state baseball gold to the capital city since Southeast won the Class A state title in 1977.

For Pius X, it was a long time coming.  They had not won state baseball title in 12 previous tournament appearances and finished runner-up three times (1960, 1974 and 2009). 

Coming into Wednesday's game with South Sioux City, the Thunderbolts were 3-0 and automatically qualified for a spot in the championship game.  But a 2-1 victory from the Cardinals forced a Thursday 4pm game against Norris, which the Titans won to play Pius X for the "B" crown. 

It was a diving grab by centerfielder Chris Bodfield off a fly ball from Norris hitter Bryce Peterson that gave the Thunderbolts the school's first baseball championship.

Earlier in the season, Pius X fell to Norris 12-5.  Congratulations to head coach Troy Charf and the Pius X baseball team for a great run to the championship!

Lincoln Northeast, meanwhile, was on a similar mission in Class A.  The Rockets swept all three Millard schools (West, South and North) to qualify for a spot in the championship game.  Northeast edged Lincoln East 5-2 to fully secure the title matchup against Omaha Creighton Prep.

The Rockets, who won the 1957 baseball championship, had not played for a state baseball title since their 3-2, 14-inning marathon loss to Omaha Northwest in 1989.  With momentum, it seemed certain Northeast would be able to upend Prep. 

Unfortunately, the Rockets hopes of a title fell short in a 14-4 and 12-2 doubleheader loss to the Junior Jays, both ending after six innings.  Prep's hitting became the demise of Northeast's pitching. 

For Rocket fans, it's just the beginning of what could be a powerful baseball program in the city and state.

Key senior losses may hurt, but experience will be back next year.  Both Northeast and Pius X look to be in the hunt again for 2013.

Omaha basketball legend Boozer dies

 You may know the name Bob Boozer from a number of business and civic-related matters in the Omaha area.   Those who have lived in Nebraska for a long time and followed his basketball career say he's the best the state's ever produced.

I couldn't agree more.  Although his high school career at Omaha Tech ended more than 20 years before I was born and NBA career closed out with a world title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1971, Bob Boozer's career demonstrated how tough a player he was.  In his 11 years in the NBA for various teams, Boozer scored 12,694 points and grabbed 7,119 rebounds.  He was an NBA all-star in 1968 when he was playing for the Chicago Bulls.

Prior to that, he starred on the court at Omaha Tech, graduating in 1955 and became a two-time All-American at Kansas State.  He led the Wildcats to a Final Four before graduating and earning a spot on the USA's 1960 Olympic basketball team.  Boozer, along with teammates Jerry West, Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson, won the gold medal.

The legend known as "Bullet Bob" for his quick play close to the basket, fell ill while visiting friends Friday night and died on Saturday.  He was 75-years-old.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that Boozer had a brain aneurysm.  Following his retirement from basketball, Boozer worked for 27 years for Northwestern Bell as an executive at it's Omaha offices.  He was known to giving back to the community, including volunteering in helping troubled youth at Boys Town.  He was appointed to the Nebraska Parole Board in 1997 by then Governor Ben Nelson.

Boozer is survived by his wife of 46-years, Ella, along with a son.  Funeral services are pending.

There are names on a short list of top basketball players born and raised in Nebraska.  Certainly at the top of the list is Bob Boozer.

(PHOTO:  Omaha basketball legend Bob Boozer shown as a Los Angeles Laker in 1966.  Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.)

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