At Devaney Sports Center
9 a.m. — No. 6 Lincoln Christian (18-7, 61 points per game; 51 points per game allowed) vs. No. 2 Grand Island Central Catholic (20-6, 56.1; 42.8)
10:45 — No. 1 Wahoo (24-2, 70.4; 50.5) vs. Ogallala (13-14, 56.7; 60.7)
2 p.m. — No. 7 Broken Bow (22-3, 57.2; 45.3) vs. Boone Central/Newman Grove (19-7, 58.8; 51.9)
3:45 p.m. — No. 4 Winnebago (20-6, 70.7; 55.3) vs. Syracuse (17-9, 57.7; 52.3)
First-round games to watch
Lincoln Christian vs. Grand Island Central Catholic — The Centennial Conference regular-season matchup in December went to GICC by eight points. Christian’s Justin Bubak has been dominant in the postseason, while GICC’s Mayra Almayra provides the same kind of firepower.
Wahoo vs. Ogallala — This one gets mentioned only because it has the potential to be a perfect example why the substate method for getting teams to the state tournament is far superior to what is in place now. The young Ogallala team has won five straight.
Winnebago vs. Syracuse — Winnebago needed a wild card to state after Boone Central/Newman Grove wiped out a 16-point halftime deficit to upset the Indians in the district final. Syracuse has won six straight with a young team that makes the Rockets’ future look bright.
Players to watch
MaNaPe Cleveland, 6-2, sr. (17.9 ppg., 5.7 rpg), & D’Von LaPointe, 5-11, sr. (16.8 ppg, 5.3 apg), Winnebago — With LaPointe at the point and Cleveland on the wing, the Indians come into state with the highest-scoring offense in C-1.
Mayra Almayra, Grand Island Central Catholic, 6-3, sr. (16.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) — Combines with junior Jack Goering (12.4 ppg) for a solid backcourt tandem.
Brendan Lacey, Wahoo, 6-2, sr. (16.5 ppg) — Leads a strong senior group for the Warriors.
Ben Nannen, Syracuse, 6-2, jr. (17.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) — The Rockets will also welcome back 6-4 junior Wil McCoy (14.6 ppg) next season.
Justin Bubak, Lincoln Christian, 6-4, so. (16.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) — The versatile Bubak has been on fire in the postseason with 83 points in three games.
Jessie Sullivan, 6-4, sr. (17.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg), & Dylan Gentrup, 6-1, sr. (16.2 ppg), Boone Central/Newman Grove — The duo combined for 38 points in the district final win over Winnebago. Both were all-state football players on the Cardinals’ state runner-up team.
How it may play out
Wahoo has been No. 1 from Day One, and nothing has happened this season to dislodge the Warriors from being the favorite this weekend. They have experience on the big stage and a talented senior class, two important ingredients for any championship team. Boone Central/Newman Grove’s postseason has been remarkable with wins over No. 3 O’Neill, No. 4 Winnebago and No. 7 Broken Bow to reach the state tournament. With Broken Bow in the first round and Winnebago on BC/NG’s side of the bracket, the Cardinals will have to get past those teams again for a shot at the title.