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12/01/2013 - From The Press Box: Basketball Season Is Here!

 As I sit here writing this column, my mind is set on mulching the last batch of leaves that have blown into my yard in the past week.  My tree's leaves blew down about three weeks ago.

At the same time, it's hard for me to fathom that the high school basketball season is here and games start this week.

There isn't that "winter" feeling that comes with basketball season, but I'll take the nice weather in early December any time.

Expectations are high for some Lincoln basketball teams this season.  The Northeast girls are likely the team to beat, while Southeast will look to move on from their state championship run and adjust to life without Nebraska recruit Jess Shepard (she transferred to Fremont in the off-season), and Southwest will also try to stay competitive without four-year starter Lauren Works, who is in her first season at Creighton.

On the boys side, it's anybody's game.  Southeast and Lincoln High are the teams that could battle for the city championship.  Northeast will be much improved and North Star is another contender.

Class B could be in favor of teams like Elkhorn South or Gretna.  Lincoln Pius X may be a team to watch, as well as Norris. 

Class C1's Lincoln Christian looks to return to state this year with goals of making it past the first round.  The Crusaders were taken out early in last year's tourney, by eventual state champion Wahoo.

What could have been 35 years ago.....

Next week's "From The Press Box" we'll take a stroll down memory lane and look back at the 1978-79 Lincoln East boys basketball team. 

It was a team that had two Division I basketball prospects, two state college players and one Division I baseball prospect.  In other words, they were athletic and coming off a state title run the season before, only to have their hopes of a repeat dashed late in the season.

East was in it's glory days of basketball, led by coach Paul Forch, who made state tournament appearances in 1971, '72, '74, '78, '79, '80 and '81. During that run, the '71 and '78 teams were state champions, while the '72, '74 and '80 teams were runners-up.

Some of those teams coached by Forch produced Division I college basketball players like Kent Reckewey, Curt Hedburg, Derek Sailors and Alex Stivrins.  But the '79 team was on track to make history and two key losses late diminished those dreams of another title.  More about that in next week's column.

Strong reaches 3,000 yards.

At the request of the Omaha World-Herald, a recount of the season yards gained by Omaha North sensation Calvin Strong showed he rushed for 3,008 yards.  That makes him the first football player in state history to run for 3,000 yards in a season.  Of those 3,008 yards, Strong carried the ball 355 times for 43 touchdowns.

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