Bulldogs watch state fate decided: On to Lincoln, thanks to Bearcats
     2012-03-01      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo
The Gering Bulldogs qualified for state via the wildcard earning the No. 5 seed in the state tournament
 
SCOTTSBLUFF — Members of the Gering boys’ basketball team were assembled at Western Nebraska Community College not only to watch the District B-6 championship game but to also learn the Bulldogs’ fate as far as their earning a wild-card berth in the Class B state tournament next week in Lincoln.

The Bulldogs (17-6) entered the night of the six district championship games across Nebraska with the No. 5 power ranking on MaxPreps.com. In that scenario, Gering needed to have at least three of the four teams ahead of it to win their respective district titles.

Before the tipoff of Scottsbluff’s 52-34 win over Sidney at Cougar Palace, one key result was already in the books: No. 1 rated Beatrice had been beaten by 12-11 Crete, 66-59. Thus Beatrice had one of the wild-card spots claimed.

With no margin for error left on Gering’s side, No. 2 South Sioux City took care of Elkhorn South and No. 4 Omaha Gross Catholic escaped with an overtime win over Gretna. All results were known by halftime of the Scottsbluff-Sidney game, in which the Bearcats were clinging to a 22-21 lead at intermission.

So there were the Gering players, finding themselves rooting for Scottsbluff in the second half – albeit not aloud, and more so in their guts than their hearts – with their own fate of making the state tournament at stake.

After the Bulldogs watched the arch-rival Bearcats squander all but one point of a 10-point first-half lead, they saw Scottsbluff ignite in the third quarter for a 45-24 advantage.

A dream became closer to reality: Gering, which watched two teams battle that were responsible for four of the Bulldogs’ losses, three to Scottsbluff – the other two coming to Wyoming teams – were going to state for the first time since 2006.

All that remained was the release of the Nebraska School Activities Association’s brackets for next week’s boys’ state tournament. The result came in Wednesday morning, and the Bulldogs were seeded No. 5 for the school’s 27th state tournament appearance and first since 2006.

Gering will play Gross Catholic (19-4) in first-round action next Thursday at 9:45 a.m. Mountain Time in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.
“Coach (Randy) Plummer and the kids had a great season, and it’s nice to see the wild-card system reward a great team,” said Gering Activities Director Dave Pauli, who coached the Bulldogs the last time they won a state game, when they finished as runners-up to Chadron in the 1996-97 Class B tournament. Gering also made state the season before.

“With such a great district as we have out here, they deserved to make state as well.”

Any problem with rooting for your arch-rival to help you earn a state tournament berth as well?

“I think they would root for whomever it takes to get in,” Pauli added.

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