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Week one of March Madness was full of plenty of thrills, excitement and surprises. Honestly, who among us thought Crofton would fall in the opening round to an eighth seed after winning five-straight state titles?
Now moving on to week two, the boys are setting up to take the floor. While the girls tournament featured plenty of recent experience from the Local County News area, the boys tournament features a couple of teams that haven’t been to Lincoln nearly as often.
Neligh-Oakdale - The Warriors are off to their first tournament since 1991. The team lacks a true center, although 6-0 Chris Bentley rarely has a problem banging around down low with “true centers,” they more than make up for it with athleticism and strong defense. They are led offensively by three 1,000-point scorers in Grant White, Tyson Belitz and Alex Kerkman. Bentley and Austin Rice are rebounding machines and are both athletic enough to guard most big men. They kick off their first title hunt in 26 years at 3:45 p.m. against Amherst at Lincoln Southeast.
O’Neill - The Eagles are on their way to a second-straight state tournament after not qualifying in almost two decades. Many of the core players from their state championship football squad took to the court this year and they continued to dominate, losing just two games all year. Tyler Regan leads O’Neill in scoring on the year with 13 points a game, but Alex Thramer and Justin Appleby are both capable of taking over games as well, each scoring in double figures on the season. The entire O’Neill squad has great length and will give team fits all tournament. They kick off the tournament against Bishop Neumann at 2 p.m. at the Devaney Center.
Riverside - The Chargers have been just as dominant on the basketball court as the have the gridiron since their inaugural season. This year, they boast an incredible scoring attack, averaging 70.5 points a game. They are led by two scorers averaging at least 20 points a game in Noah Valasek and Tredyn Prososki. Few teams can make it rain from 3 like the Chargers as they have hit 233 treys on the year. They have finished third each of the past two seasons, but this year likely could be their year. They kick off their title hunt against Garden County at Lincoln Southeast. Tip off will be bright and early at 9 a.m.