The final month of the regular season in boys and girls basketball should prove to be interesting, to say the least.
Both boys and girls from Lincoln East, Lincoln Northeast and Fremont are vying to be contenders for post-season play and depending on what the district alignments are set up to be in the next few weeks, it's possible one of those teams will be left home in March.
I'm not going to say who because there's still a lot of season left and plenty can happen between now and February 20.
Let's look at East, for instance. Both teams have identical records (11-4) and have been fairly dominant. However, the Spartan boys lost three games in a row before rallying to upset Millard South on Friday and Kearney on Saturday. Of those three losses, the one to Northeast may have stung the worst.
Essentially, Northeast's win in addition to Rocket victories over Lincoln Southeast, Lincoln North Star and Lincoln Southwest this past Thursday ultimately gave them the city title. Northeast still has to play Lincoln High, but the Rockets' city record has been in tact and shouldn't change the city championship win or lose.
As for North Star, they've won four games in a row (including the upset at Norfolk on Jan. 15) and they remind me of a Northeast team in 2004 that went from 5-7 to 14-7 and district champs in a flash. The Gators are likely on a similar course and would have to win out the rest of their games this year, plus districts.
Regardless, East, Northeast and North Star have been impressive this year. Southeast is still clinging on, but Southwest and Lincoln High especially have been going through growing pains this year. The future for the Links looks promising.
The East girls had a bump in the road at Millard South on Friday night (55-52 loss), but it shouldn't phase them too much. Northeast girls had an impressive rally in the fourth quarter of their 63-51 win at Southwest Saturday night.
One team that's seen improvement is Lincoln High. Sure, they have 11 losses, but five wins for a team a year ago with less wins than that is a step in the right direction. Most of their losses have been between two and nine points, with the occasional double-digit margins.
Their 58-54 loss to Southeast is probably the closest the Links have been against the Knights in about ten to 15 years.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Just one game to listen for this week. It's the Friday night game with the Lincoln Pius X boys at Lincoln Northeast, which should make for an interesting matchup. Remember two years ago? Pius X's Brandon Utrup went coast to coast with five seconds left and scored the game winning layup at the Ed Johnson Gym.
Northeast got revenge over at Bishop Flavin Gym a year ago, but now the game is back over at Johnson Gym, the Rockets will look to stop the Thunderbolts quickly and often.
Pius X, on the other hand, has good patience and utilize their size. But the key for the 'Bolts will be trying to defend Northeast's 6-9 junior center Trace Tupper, who has been averaging a double-double this season.
The game should be fun to watch and may be the game to capture in town this week!