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CURRENT ARTICLE
01/25/2015 - From The Press Box: Changes At The Top
 As Bob Dylan's 1964 hit says, "These Times Are A Changin'." 

Well, at least for how the Class A Boys High School Basketball ratings are concerned.

Omaha South pulled off a 10-point upset of previous No. 1 Omaha Creighton Prep at Prep's Heider Center on Friday night and Norfolk's undefeated streak remaining in tact, (winning 61-57 Saturday at Bellevue West) means a change on the top of the mountain.

Norfolk is the unanimous No. 1 team in this week's Union Bank Class A Boys Basketball Top Ten.

Seems fitting right?  I mean, why would you not rank an undefeated team number one?

There are some arguments, such as Norfolk's schedule is considerably not as strong as teams like Prep or South.  

Coach Ben Ries has built up a solid power in his program and the Panthers are looking to hold off anyone else in their path.   It certainly doesn't get any easier from here, though.

The Panthers host Omaha Northwest on Friday night, but the challenge will be coming from teams like Millard North (on Saturday), Fremont on Feb. 6 and most notably Lincoln High on Feb. 7.  

Can't forget teams like Lincoln Northeast, who will go Norfolk on Feb. 20 to cap off the regular season.  Remember what happened a year ago in Lincoln?  Northeast pulled off the upset on the Panthers, which started the Rockets run through districts on their way to state.  Coach David Mercer and his team found a way to pull off the victory over Norfolk, but the stakes will be a little different when they make that two-and-a-half hour road trip up Highway 81 in a few weeks.

Still, Norfolk knows they can't be complacent.  They are well aware of how Lincoln High has dramatically improve since their Dec. 6 meeting, which the Panthers won 69-44.

Lincoln High is in the middle of a eleven-game win streak and have gotten stronger since the initial meeting.  But the biggest challenge for the Links may be playing in a loud, tough environment at the Norfolk gym.  Trust me, I know from playing experience (almost some 20 years ago) that the Panther faithful can be a major influence on ballgames.

As for Prep, they'll bounce back.  I have no doubt that Josh Luedtke will regroup and press on.  That's the only thing you can do at this point in the season.

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ROCKETS AND THUNDERBOLTS TO CLASH THURSDAY NIGHT

LincolnPrepSports.com, through our radio partner KFOR 1240, will bring you perhaps the biggest intra-city game in girls basketball all season.  Class A second-ranked and undefeated Lincoln Northeast will host Class B No. 1 and undefeated Lincoln Pius X at the Ed Johnson Gym Thursday night.

I'm looking forward to this game simply for one reason---who's the better team?

What Northeast lacks in size on the court, they make up for in quickness and shooting.  Pius X, on the other hand, they have size, quickness, shooting ability and can dictate the tempo of the game.

Tantashea Giger, one of the top players in the city, has been a big component to Northeast's success and has received help from players like Jamie Holscher, Shaneequah Watkins, Nigeria Jones and Tierra Beard.  The Rockets, though, are weak inside and that may allow players like Kennedy Sander and Nebraska recruit Maddie Simon to take advantage.

Simon, who is averaging over 20 points a game, needs to have a good game and protect the basketball from a fiesty Northeast defense.   The rest of the Pius X squad will need to do the same thing.  With their size, the Thunderbolts should control the inside game.

CRETE FANS, YOU HAVE A SOLID TEAM

Last week's Union Bank Top Ten prompted Crete Cardinals fans to lobby me as to why their boys basketball team should be ranked in the Class B ratings.

I caught a little bit of the Crete/Pius X boys game on Thursday night and was impressed with how they played.  A gritty team with athleticism and a basketball IQ.  The Cardinal boys are on my radar screen and potentially could have a post-season run up their sleeve, IF they can stay squeaky clean the rest of the season.

I hope we can make up and move on.  Please forgive me on how I rank and perceive teams in Class B.  Nothing personal.


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