For the second time in three years, the Capital City will have three teams in the Class A girls state basketball semifinals.
Lincoln East (defeated Millard South), Lincoln Southwest (Omaha Westside) and Lincoln Pius X (Omaha Benson) advanced on Thursday at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
In fact, Pius X coach Ryan Psota, before his team's game against Benson, said he got some reminders that three other Lincoln teams had won earlier, including Lincoln Christian in Class C-1.
"Was there some pressure on us? Yes, but we just wanted to come out and play Pius basketball, and do what we do best to give us the best chance to win."
Then there is Lincoln Northeast, which is ranked seventh, and nearly missed getting into the tournament.
"I think Lincoln basketball kind of showed that it's pretty good," Southwest coach Jeff Rump said. "We certainly have a lot of different styles that we can play."
Friday's first Class A semifinal will pair two contrasting styles from East and Southwest. East likes to push the pace, run and force extra possessions with its full-court pressure defense. Southwest likes to turn to its size in crunch time and get games into half-court situations, offensively and defensively.
"Either way a Lincoln team will be in the final, so that's pretty cool," Rump said.
Christian bus involved in accident: Lincoln Christian has had a tough relationship with vehicles this season, and Thursday morning was no different.
One of the two vans carrying the Crusaders to their first-round game in the girls state basketball tournament at the Devaney Sports Center was involved in a crash.
"Thank the Lord, everybody was safe and we were able to get here in time for the game," coach Nick Orduna said after his squad earned a 46-35 victory over West Point-Beemer. "It just adds to the memories of the weekend, to say we got in an accident on the way to the game."
The crash took place at 33rd Street and Normal Boulevard as the team van was headed downtown for the 9 a.m. game.
Orduna said the van that wasn't involved in the crash went on to Devaney and one of the parents picked up the girls from Orduna's van.
"It happened about 7:30 and I had to stay there until 8:10 to get the police report done," Orduna said. "I felt bad for the lady. She just pulled right out in front of me. She was so frazzled and thought she hurt somebody. It happens."
Warriors playing for Kim: Wahoo junior point guard Kendal Brigham is a feisty competitor. She says she gets her competitive drive and determination from her mother.
Kim Brigham passed away June 14 after a battle with cancer. Kendal, one of five Brigham kids, is honoring her late mother with her tenacious play on the court.
“Everyone says they think of my mom when they watch me play,” Kendal Brigham said. “She gave me the competitive edge that I have and showed me that determination in her fight against cancer.”
Kim Brigham taught art for 14 years at Wahoo and left a lasting legacy. Warriors coach Linda Walker said her team is playing for a lot of people this weekend, but that Kim is at the top of the list.
“She was here (at state) last year, but it was a struggle for her,” Walker said. “We’re playing for a lot of people down here, but we’re definitely playing for her.”
With Kim Brigham’s birthday falling on Saturday, Kendal, who scored nine points in the Warriors win over Adams Central, said winning a state title would be a perfect way to honor her memory.
“Saturday’s her birthday,” Kendal Brigham said. “It would be awesome if we could win it for her.”
The comeback trail: Oakland-Craig senior Dacey Nelson couldn't wait for a chance to play in the state basketball tournament.
One year ago, Nelson missed the whole season after tearing up her knee in a summer pickup game.
"I can thank my therapist (Chris Johnson) for helping me learn to walk, learn to run and learn to run and dribble a basketball -- all that," she said. Nelson had torn her ACL, MCL, PCL and meniscus and spent months in rehabilitation with Johnson.
"I was so happy to have a chance to play again, and now a chance to be in the tournament with my teammates," said Nelson. "There is no better feeling. Well, ice is still pretty good on my knee these days, too."
Cave impresses: Weeping Water’s 5-foot-8 sophomore Grace Cave showed why she already has Division I scholarship offers from Omaha and South Dakota State by going off for 32 points in the first-round loss to No. 1 Pleasanton.
Cave’s ability to change speeds and direction quickly on the drive, her ball-handling skills on both sides, three-point shooting prowess (three three-pointers) and a knack of finding the open player proved difficult for the Bulldogs to handle.
She saved her best for last, going off for 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“Grace is an extremely gifted player who’s played a ton of basketball,” Weeping Water coach Joel Haveman said of Cave. “I think she’ll make a huge leap over the summer in terms of recruiting as her overall game continues to develop.”
One more time: No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart will play No. 4 Sterling for the fifth time this season, this time with a chance to play for the Class D-2 state championship on Saturday.
FCSH leads the series 3-1 with Sterling knocking off the Irish in the MUDECAS tournament.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge," FCSH coach Luke Santo said. "You get this far and anything can happen. We definitely aren't going to overlook them."
The Jets have yet to score 40 points this season against FCSH in four matchups, but did hold the Irish to a season-low 23 points in their lone victory.
Dressed for success: When looking at the Class B Elkhorn South Storm's uniforms it's clear that they look pretty sharp. A nice mix of Navy Blue and what they call Vegas Gold. The uniforms take on a life of their own once the socks come into play. Those are right out of the 1960s.
The Storm has a tradition of wearing tie-dyed socks at the state tournament and 2019 isn't any different. The fashion statement has led to players adapting their own style with the retro pattern. Take sophomore Rylee Gray for example.
"I put the hot one (referencing her yellow and red tie-dyed sock) on my left foot because I'm left handed and hopefully I'll get a little hot," Gray said of her decision.
"Tie-dye is the tradition and they've been doing it since before I was here but we tie-dyed these last Sunday."
The tie-dye seems to work for the Storm as it advanced into Friday's semifinals with a 51-37 win over Sidney on Thursday.