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01/07/2019 - From The Press Box: 2018 Full of Ups and Downs

From The Press Box

I'll admit that 2018 was a bittersweet year for myself.

The loss of my father, my wife's stepmother, other friends and acquaintances no doubt stood out as the rough spots.

We also welcomed in three members of my extended family into the world.

Yes, the holidays were happy, sad, enjoyable and full of time to reflect.  We managed to pull through to the tough times before and are doing that again as we go full speed into 2019.

No resolutions for me this year, other than to simply stay active and deal with less stress.  I suppose now that I'm in my 40s that's something simple I can stick with as often as possible.


For the first time in the more than 25 years of the Heartland Athletic Conference, there will be a newcomer that will win the boys basketball championship.

Kearney and Lincoln Pius X will play Monday at 7pm at Bishop Flavin Gym to see who will win the crown.  What could be a first in the conference is that a team that "technically" is Class B could win it.

Pius X, due to lower male enrollment numbers based on classification, is in Class B.  It was decided a year ago the Thunderbolts would join Kearney and Norfolk as the newest members of the HAC.  The presumption would be that all would be Class A teams, but with the ever changing enrollment numbers that come out each year, plus new schools popping up in Omaha (Lincoln in the next few years) that will drastically change the alignment.

That's another story for another column at another time.

Bellevue West emerges as the new No. 1 in our Union Bank boys basketball Class A ratings.  The Thunderbirds claimed the Metro Conference title in a 51-47 win over Creighton Prep last Friday night.

How about those Waverly girls?

The Vikings rallied back and went on a 21-2 run in the fourth quarter to edge rival Norris 48-42 last Friday night to stay perfect and remain No. 1.  Head Coach John Cockerill has his team playing at the top of their game coming into January.


In a day and age where high school sports has seen dips in attendance, has gained more exposure at the same time through radio, TV, Internet, newspaper and all other mediums.

But why are these new youth basketball leagues scheduling games to be played on Friday nights, even Saturday nights, when high school teams are competing?

To me, that's puzzling.

If you have a youth program that may be a feeder to a high school program, what's the basis for competing in a league that makes you play during times when prep games are happening?

Which leads me to believe that the league organizers don't care and simply know that green means more.  If you have a new facility to bring in more teams to compete, that's great.  A wonderful concept.  Again, why would you schedule multiple games on Friday nights when the high schools those kids would be attending in the next year or two are playing their games at the same time?

I suppose, I would rather have a kid go up and watch the team of the school he plans on attending on a Friday night and have the daytime on Saturday or Sunday to go play games.

Parents my age, older and younger seem to not care about the concept of taking their kids to watch the next level of basketball to get a grasp of what they could expect from one program versus the other.  Instead, it's about how many games they can play as a way to improve.

It takes more than just playing games to get better.  It's about working on individual skills.

When I played high school basketball close to 25 years ago, the thought of having youth basketball play on Friday nights was absurd.  It doesn't bode well to help develop junior high/middle school kids that could be going to specific schools, where programs were flourishing with success.

Gyms welcomed in great crowds, while nowadays if it's not No. 1 versus someone else in the top ten, stands will still be halfway to three-quarters full.  In some cases, under 1,000 people in the stands is common place.

Having youth basketball games on Friday nights during the high school regular season isn't helping the cause, in my opinion.

Maybe I'm old fashioned?  Or disillusioned.

Whatever the case, I would think better planning could be considered by league organizers.

Jeff Motz is a columnist, announcer and manager of  He's also the sports director and voice of high school sports on KFOR Radio 103.3FM/1240AM and KLMS ESPN Lincoln 101.5FM/1480AM.  Follow him on Twitter @JeffMotzKFOR.
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