Final Point: Girls’ sub-district brackets a presidential projection
     2015-02-12      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
First of all, a big happy birthday goes out to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

By chance of the calendar, Feb. 12 (today) is when the Nebraska School Activities Association reveals its brackets and seeds for the sub-district girls’ basketball tournaments in Classes C1, C2, D1 and D2.

By coincidence, the sub-district action begins during the early part of a holiday week for the second time: the tournaments began or continued on Election Day in November, and the basketball action starts Monday, or Presidents’ Day.

While not many of us have Presidents’ Day off – my wife, a state worker, does, and school teachers and administrators have staff development, so the kids are out of school – we might as well devote it to getting sub-district action started.

However, when the NSAA announces such postseason dates on a Thursday, this poses the same problem we had in November, when the volleyball sub-districts and Class B districts were announced after the Citizen was printed on Wednesday.

So, by the time next week’s edition comes out, the girls’ sub-districts will be down to their respective finals next Thursday, Feb. 19.

So on Monday, the games between the fourth and fifth seeds will kick off the sub-district brackets in C1-12 at Alliance High School, D1-12 at Ogallala’s Prairie View Middle School and D2-11 at Sidney High School’s Cabela’s Athletic Facility.

The C2-12 action at Gering High School, which has just four teams, begins Tuesday – when all the other sub-districts’ semifinal games will be played. All sub-district finals will be next Thursday, and girls’ district finals will be Feb. 27.

So in reviewing the NSAA’s wild-card points list prior to Tuesday’s handful of games, these are the likely matchups in each sub-district.
Sub-district C1-12 at Alliance is loaded; how else can you describe a five-team bracket whose lowest-rated team is 11-9 Chase County at No. 23 in the wild-card points? The Longhorns, however, have the misfortune of playing likely No. 4 seed Gordon-Rushville (12-7, No. 18) in Monday’s first-round game.

That winner will play Tuesday against likely No. 1 seed Mitchell, which is No. 8 in wild-card points and 14-4 after its Western Trails Conference Tournament championship loss to Hemingford. No. 2 seed Chadron (14-6, No. 10) likely will play No 3 seed Ogallala (15-6, No. 13) in Tuesday’s other semifinal.

Those projections are far from set in stone, since Chadron, Ogallala and Chase County all played Tuesday night. NSAAhome.org will have the official brackets posted this morning, including game times for all brackets.

A heck of a championship game for the sub-district championship – which Chadron has won the past four years – will be tonight. The shame of the playoff system is that two – and, who knows, maybe even all three? – top-13 teams will be left out of the six district final games on Feb. 27.

The opposite is the case in Sub-district D2-11 at Sidney, where no team enters the bracket with a winning record.
The No. 1 seed will be Leyton, which entered its Tuesday game at Bayard with an 8-10 record and 28th among the 57 D2 teams. Banner County (2-14 and No. 55) and Minatare (0-15 and No. 56) are the likely pairing for Monday’s first-round game and the chance to play Leyton in Tuesday’s semifinals.

The other semifinal likely will match No. 2 seed (Garden County 3-11 and No. 39) and No. 3 South Platte (2-12 and No. 50).
Possibly, a Banner County win Tuesday night over Hyannis and a South Platte loss at Maywood might result in a change. Here’s saying Banner County – whose two wins are both over Minatare – and the winless Indians will meet one more time for the winner’s season to continue at least one more game.

The C2-12 sub-district at Gering has a Western Trails Conference flavor to it, with No. 1 seed and WTC Tournament champion Hemingford (18-2 entering a Tuesday game against Kimball and the No. 5 team in C2) to face Bayard (7-12 and No. 34 before Tuesday’s home game against Leyton) in one semfinal.

Tuesday’s other seminal looks to have No. 20 Kimball (10-12 before its trip to Hemingford) as the No. 2 seed against No. 3 seed Bridgeport (set at 9-9 and No. 26 in C2).

In D1-12 play at Ogallala, 22-0 Dundy County-Stratton will enter the bracket as a heavy favorite and is the No. 2 team in Class D1. The Tigers will meet the winner of Monday’s first-round contest between No. 40 and likely No. 4 seed Morrill (9-10) and 49th-ranked No. 5 seed Creek Valley (6-10 before Tuesday’s game at winless Perkins County).

In the semifinals, Potter-Dix (14-3 entering a Tuesday game against Peetz, Colo.) is 19th among D1 teams and the likely No. 2 seed against Sutherland (9-11 and 27th before its Tuesday game against Maxwell).
The boys’ sub-districts will be released on Tuesday, and action will take place Feb. 23, 24 and 26. The Class B-6 girls’ district bracket also will be announced Tuesday, with action set for Feb. 24, 26 and 27.

The boys’ B-6 bracket will be announced on Feb. 24 for action Feb. 28, March 2 and March 3.

The B-6 girls’ district bracket looks to have Sidney (14-6 and No. 12 in Class B) destined to be the No. 1 seed. The Red Raiders will play the winner of what right now would be No. 4 seed McCook (5-14 and No. 26) against No. 5 Alliance (2-14 and 30th).
Projected No. 2 seed Scottsbluff (6-9) is rated 20th and possible No. 3 seed Gering (5-14) is 24th, but both teams have three home games this weekend in the East-West Shootout and a head-to-head meeting at Scottsbluff on Feb. 20.

Certainly don’t set those seeding projections in stone. Lots of shuffling in B-6 is bound to happen before Tuesday’s district bracket announcement.

Speaking of announcements, a surprising one – at least to those of us used to having district play based at Western Nebraska Community College – came over the weekend, when the NSAA posted that District B-6 play would be at McCook Community College.

And apparently a school’s successes during the season don’t matter in this case either. The McCook girls are fourth among the B-6 teams and the Bison boys are 6-13 entering this weekend’s East-West Shootout and would be the boys’ district No. 5 seed.

Yes, B-6 is spread out the way it is. Accommodations have been made in recent years for McCook to have games at an in-between site like Perkins County in Grant. But even the trip to McCook for Sidney is a good 150 miles. Is the NSAA going to help the other four schools get their teams to McCook for district play? Yeah, sure. Things look a little un-presidential there.

Then again, the county-area wrestlers who usually have to travel far east for district action all get the travel breaks for districts Friday and Saturday. Districts are in Chadron for B-4, Mitchell for C-4 and Hemingford for D-4.

But when it comes to the postseason – and in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, honesty is the best policy – all teams begin 0-0 anyway; winless Minatare and undefeated Dundy County-Stratton are on even planes, and no team plays on its home court.

May the best teams win in all coming sub-district and district tournaments, and for some, may their state tournament and championship dreams come true.

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