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CURRENT ARTICLE
03/09/2014 - From The Press Box: Nebraska's Two Large Arenas Are Great, Looking Back At Girls State Hoops and Ahead To Boys Tourney
 Year one at Pinnacle Bank Arena is a hit for a lot of basketball fans coming to watch the NSAA State High School Basketball Tournaments.  

A lot of positives from people I've interacted with about the new digs in Lincoln's Haymarket district.  I must admit, this is a pretty good stage for the state's best teams to battle on the hardwood.

It enhances the value of the venue selection the state has to offer for not only sports, but entertainment.

Saturday, I went from calling the Class B girls state basketball championship game at "The Vault" in Lincoln to taking my son to the Creighton-Providence men's basketball game at CenturyLink Center Omaha.  Both places are Grade A facilities.

I mean, how can anyone not like one versus the other or both?  Pinnacle Bank Arena is new and state-of-the-art.  CenturyLink is still in good shape and even remains state-of-the-art.

While I'm not a Nebraska basketball season ticket holder, I still think the new arena serves a purpose for other events.  Case and point, the Girls and Boys State Basketball Tournaments.

Lincoln hit a homer with this facility and keeping the Devaney Sports Center as part of the equation.   But something tells me that Omaha may get a wild hair and try to offer a deal to the NSAA in another five years where they could offer CenturyLink Center, Sokol Arena on Creighton's campus, the new facility to be built at UNO and Ralston Arena as potential sites for basketball.

Not saying it's going to happen, but it's possible that type of offer could be made.  In some conversations with members of the Omaha media, it sounds like the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce enjoys having the State Wrestling Meet, leading to the belief that basketball could be on the radar screen for Metro officials.

Girls State Tourney Recap

Congratulations to Omaha Benson, Grand Island Northwest, Pierce, Crofton, Friend and Wynot for capturing gold in the girls state basketball tournament.  Benson and Friend are first time winners.  

There were good games early on and there were the blowouts.  Northwest, with impressive guard McKenzie Brown's outside shooting, was able to shake off the likes of Norris and Lincoln Pius X in the semifinals and championship game.  Pius X, though, only loses one starter (Bailey Knobbe) and returns four starters that includes Nebraska women's basketball recruit Maddie Simon.

The Thunderbolts will be the heavy favorite next season.

Lincoln Northeast girls ended up taking fourth place, after falling to Millard West in the third place game 55-49.  The Rockets lose seniors Toni Tupper and Morgan Ewing, both players leave a major void in the lineup.  Head Coach Steve Bartek has plenty of depth at guard and look to find someone to step in to play in the post.


Boys State Tourney


Three Lincoln teams are vying for state championships this week.  Northeast and Southeast in Class A and Pius X in Class B.  All three, though, face challenges on opening day Thursday.

The Rockets open up against top-seed Omaha Benson at 2pm, followed by the Knights facing Omaha Westside at 3:45pm.  In Class B, the Thunderbolts have a tough first round draw in wild-card entry York Thursday morning at 9am.

The odds of having all three moving on to the semifinals are slim, but two of the three face decent chances and one could be the lone Lincoln team playing on Friday.  It's hard to say what lies ahead for each team, but, after all, it's the State Tournament and anything is possible.

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