|The 87 - 88 season began with high expectations for the Wahoo boys basketball team. In 1987, the Warriors had been to the State Tournament for the first time in forty years and the players and coaches were united in one goal. As Kevin Jeppson would say, Our goal at the beginning of the year was not just to get down there, but to win the thing. While Coach Mick Anderson wasnt about to guarantee such a thing, or even talk much about it, he was well aware that his team had the potential. The Warriors returned three starters: 62 senior, Steve Carmer, a 1987 All-State selection; 511 senior, Kevin Jeppson; and 61 junior, Troy Glock. Carmer would be playing his fourth varsity season while Glock would be in his third. With Sean Liliedahl and Steve Malousek also returning with varsity experience, there was reason for optimism. With the transfer of 66 starter, Dan Bartek from Wahoo Neumann, many felt there was reason to start celebrating in December what was inevitable in March. Talk of an undefeated season was prevalent. Coach Anderson commented, its awful tough to get to the state tournament and its tough to win them all anymore.
There was enough new about the 87 - 88 season to make turning the previous years success into a springboard less than a sure thing: Wahoo was moving up a class (from C1 to B). The new 3- point rule had all the coaches a little nervous. And the 87 - 88 version of the Warriors would have some new, untested personnel. The move to Class B might not be too intimidating as a significant portion of the Warrior schedule was already against Class B teams. But, the District tournament would probably present a much greater challenge than what is typically faced in a lower class. Rather than facing teams like David City (Wahoo won a narrow victory in the 87 Sub-District, 64 - 58) in the first round, Wahoo would likely face a Waverly or Plattsmouth, teams that competed in the solid Class B Eastern Midlands Conference. And as Coach Anderson would later remark, Theres a big difference in quickness and speed as you move up ... So the challenge of a Class B District would remain an unknown until the time came to compete.
Nobody really knew how much the shots from beyond the arc would play into their teams success in the preseason of 1987. And while Wahoo did return two veteran guards in Glock and Jeppson, the strength of the team was obviously inside with Carmer. The new rule might make other teams more explosive while the Warriors remain mired in the old ways of pounding it inside. As the season played out, the team shot a little over 40% from three point range, making 64 out of 154. That was a game average of about 2.5 made out of 6.5 attempts. A look ahead at Nebraska high school records in 2007 would find Wahoo listed in the three point records in several instances: The 1994 team is listed as the 6th best all time with 203 made, while the 1993 team is the 3rd best with 212 made. The 1991 team and the 1994 team are tied for 9th best with 17 made in one game. Mike Hancock places 4th (1994 = 90) and 2nd (1993 = 99) for three point goals made in a season. And Hancock is the 3rd best for career 3 pointers with 249. In other words, Hancock scored more than 83 a season (he was not on the varsity as a freshman), 19 more than the entire Wahoo team of 87 - 88. So, although it would change, the 3-point goal was not going to be a staple of the Warrior attack this season.
The rosters for most high schools change from one season to the next; rarely does a team return all five starters. In this season, the Warriors would have three returners. But with Glock and Carmer they each had three seasons of starting varsity play under their belt. And Carmer was already a recognized All-State player. Missing from last seasons state qualifying team would be starters Jim Wotipka and Randy Gerdts, and sixth man, Jeff Ohnoutka. At the end of the season, followers of the Wahoo team were largely in agreement that Wotipka would be most difficult to replace. Without a bona fide center, there was some worry that teams would be able to focus on stopping Carmer. Enter Dan Bartek. He was the man for Wahoo Neumann the previous season, bringing another year of starting experience to the Wahoo squad (he had scored 16 against Wahoo in the 1987 sub district final.) The real challenge would be fitting Bartek into the team chemistry needed for a championship run. Fortunately, in 1987 teams were commonly playing together in the off-season, a luxury denied teams a decade earlier. This group of players had competed in a summer league at Fremont Bergan and in a summer team camp at UNL. So, going into the new season, they were not strangers. In fact, Bartek saw his new situation as a real bonus: Im not the only one (big man) this year. Inside plays are based on both of us (Carmer). And he thought he could be a better player: Im really going to have to compete to (keep) up with the other guys.
If Bartek didnt work out, Coach Anderson had another option he wasnt talking about in the preseason. The incoming freshman class in the fall of 87 was one of the most talented Wahoo would have, and foremost among that group was Troy Glocks younger brother, 6 3 Jason Glock. This freshman group was the first to graduate from the youth basketball program that had been started a few years earlier, the Wahoops program. As freshmen, they had more basketball experience than any previous group. It was possible that Jason Glock, even as a freshman might be able to help the Warriors in their championship quest. But there was no mention of this possibility in any of the preseason prognostications.
So the high expectations were not without basis for the 87 - 88 team, and yet anyone who has been around the game of basketball very long knows there are all kinds of pitfalls. Amid the hoopla, all Coach Anderson would admit is if things go well, if we play well and we get lucky, well compete for state recognition. That sounded like a lot of ifs as the Warriors headed into their season opener with the David City Scouts.
High Expectations, Pt. 2 -- a good start
|"If we can get everyone to jell like last year, we may be back" -- Coach Mick Anderson