It doesn't seem like it's been 28 years since Norfolk won it's first and last NSAA Class A boys state basketball title.
I was there.
Just 11 days away from my 10th birthday, I vividly remember March 14, 1987 and how Lincoln Northeast rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter and took a 61-60 lead over the Panthers.
Then someone forever to be known as the guy that put the dagger in the hearts of Northeast fans, like myself, Chris Price buried a 20-foot shot from the left corner with seven seconds left in regulation to give Norfolk a 62-61 win.
All of the folks that made the two-and-a-half hour trip to Lincoln danced on the Devaney Sports Center floor all night long. Northeast faithful went home dejected and disappointed after such a miraculous comeback.
It was an exciting and frustrating end to head coach Rick Collura's first season back at his alma mater. Little did he know at the time that 10 years later, he would have racked up three state titles in a row (only to win the fourth the following season).
Well, old feelings have risen among both Norfolk and Northeast fans, when the two teams meet this Friday night in what may be the roughest environment for basketball outside of Omaha Creighton Prep's famed "Birdcage."
Norfolk's gym and rowdy crowd environment helps fuel the Panthers to victory, while it causes fits for many teams.
As a senior, when we played at Norfolk it was a makeup of a game postponed the previous Friday because of a snow storm. The trip to Norfolk on Highway 81 on a Tuesday night was something a lot of us didn't want to endure. We did, played the best we could and Norfolk was the better team that night, a 69-65 winner over the Rockets.
This Friday, Northeast comes in as the No. 6 team in our Class A top ten from Union Bank, while Norfolk remains on top with a 21-0 record.
South Dakota recruit Tyler Hagedorn will be tough to stop on the inside and has help from Kory Reestman and Logan Strom. All three have been helpful for the Panthers close to the basket. Lane McCallum and Brandon Villapando are two good guards.
Northeast will bring an inside presence featuring 6-8 sophomore Trace Tupper, 6-5 senior Khan Kailech and 6-2 senior power forward Derrick Curtis. The other 6-5 senior, Liem Liem, will play inside and outside. The back court of 6-3 Ryan Garver and 5-9 point guard Tyson Shadegg may match up well with the likes of McCallum and Villapando.
Both teams, though, have one more game before they meet Friday. Northeast plays host to tenth-ranked Papillion-LaVista South Tuesday evening, while Norfolk is at Omaha Bryan on Thursday.
Ever since that 1987 state championship game and anytime both are ranked, the Northeast/Norfolk game is always a fun one to watch.