1989 Home

A New Team
A New Season
An Old District
A New Title
The Last Word

Introduction -- collision course

"In a break from traditional wisdom, Pius X is rated ahead of Wahoo ...” With those words in her preseason rankings, Lincoln Journal sports writer, Ryly Jane Hambleton put Wahoo and Pius X on a collision course for the ‘88-’89 season. Hambleton had given the #1 spot to Lincoln Pius X, even though Wahoo was the reigning Class B Champion. Wahoo would spend the entire season looking up at Pius.

Pius’s #1 ranking was justified. The Lincoln school had come within one basket of claiming the 1988 crown. Steve Carmer’s driving lay-up with 2 seconds left were all that separated the Thunderbolts from the championship. Four of the five starters for that Pius team returned, led by Third Team Super State player, Kelly Hendrichs. On the flip side, Wahoo only had one starter back, Troy Glock. The Warriors graduated seven seniors. In addition to Troy Glock, only sophomore brother Jason Glock had significant tournament experience. But Wahoo coach, Mick Anderson, wasn’t apologetic about his team’s high preseason ranking, commenting, “We don’t feel the cupboard’s bare.” and adding that junior Randy Hoffman is “going to be a surprise.”

Preseason rankings being what they are, based on past year’s performance and future potential rather than on the court performance, should probably be taken with the grain of salt. For the 1988 - 1989 Nebraska high school basketball season, Ms. Hambleton had a pretty good crystal ball. When the season ended, four of her top rated teams would claim their class championships; the other two would emerge from the #2 position. It was a year of great consistency. Two teams, Millard South (Class A) and Falls City Sacred Heart (D1) would top their classes the entire year. In Class C2, Grant would move up from #2 to #1 after Christmas and remain there, claiming the championship in March. In Class D2, Hampton slipped to #2 for a couple of weeks in midseason, but reclaimed the top spot and eventually the championship. Only in Class C1 was there a degree of uncertainty as preseason #1, Sutton even found their way out of the rankings at one point. Their successor to the top spot, Atkinson West Holt, didn’t make the tournament, having their win streak snapped in the District final. In the end, it was Sutton that fought all the way back to the top. In Class B, it was Pius X #1, Wahoo #2, right up until the final game.

Preseason rankings are double-edged. Coaches do crave the validation that a top ten ranking gives their program. They like to use them as bulletin board material to motivate their players, to get more out of them in practice and a better focus come game time. They keep a team history, logging the “top ten” years to help in setting long term goals that help to motivate players to participate in weight lifting and summer programs. Communities like to point to the recognition of achievement; home town announcers often announce with pride their team’s position in the current rankings along with their starting lineups. Parents enjoy dropping the comment to friends and relatives that the team is currently ranked.

But those rankings bring expectations. Neither Pius X nor Wahoo could ignore the expectations that had built up for the 1988 - 1989 season. In Pius’s case, it was a product of two consecutive runner up finishes. This would be the third trip to the finals for senior Kelly Hendrichs. While one might assume that the #1 ranking would be the best, Pius coach, Tom Seib commented, “I’d rather be 8th or 9th and work our way up.” Wahoo was in a similar circumstance, with a semifinal appearance in 1987 and the 1988 championship. Troy Glock would also find himself on the Devaney floor for a third consecutive year. But perhaps that one position difference in the rankings worked to Wahoo’s advantage. After being second all season, Wahoo coach, Mick Anderson wasn’t beyond using the #2 spot as a psychological ploy when the final showdown loomed as he commented, “I don’t feel there is any pressure on us. I definitely think it is more on them (Pius) than us.”

Even though the rankings set the course in November, there was a whole season to be played. If you fast forward to the end, you might assume that it was a fast, unimpeded track that would bring the two teams to their head on destiny. But such was not the case. Both teams would be challenged. Pius would appear to have had the rougher road. Coach Seib justifiably claimed, “we play the best schedule of any Class B team in the state.” Pius had four of the preseason top ten and five of the final top ten on their regular season schedule. The Bolts would escape with narrow wins over Elkhorn (61 - 59) and two overtime victories, Lexington (63 - 62) and Elkhorn Mount Michael (51 - 47). They would barely make it through the District tournament, pulling out a 54 - 52 win over York on a John Boudreau jump shot with three seconds left.

In contrast, Wahoo had no top ten Class B preseason teams on its schedule and only Syracuse and Schuyler made the final rankings. As Coach Anderson commented at the start of the season, “There’s not a game on our schedule that we can’t win.” But then he quickly added that to win them all, “You’ve got to have Lady Luck on your side.”
But the Warriors were pushed to overtime by Yutan (74 - 69). Wahoo led Raymond Central by only two with four minutes to go, before prevailing 58 - 53. And Wahoo eventually faced the daunting task of playing the Syracuse team three times. The Warriors pulled off the win each time (regular season, conference tournament, state semifinals). Perhaps faithful Pius supporters didn’t see that as much of a challenge, however, as Pius managed to put away Syracuse 63 -38 in their final home game of the season. However, when looking at comparative scores, Wahoo did get the advantage in the Elkhorn Mt. Michael matchup. Both teams played at Mt. Michael, but while Wahoo prevailed 53 - 40, Pius had found itself trailing the Knights by five with just over two minutes to go before pulling out the overtime win.

In November of 1988, the Wahoo basketball team and community was still basking in the glory of the previous season’s championship. Anderson was optimistic and in typical style stated that “we’ll get out and compete.” He didn’t really talk about Lincoln Pius X. The players didn’t either, but they saw the rankings on the bulletin board. Even as the state tournament approached, they denied that they were looking ahead. But finally, sophomore, Bernie Inbody let it slip, “That’s the game we really want.”

As Coach Anderson faced the 1988 - 1989 season he was often asked if the Warriors could repeat. He was confident in the abiilities of the new team, but was also acutely aware of how hard they had to work to achieve that championship. He joked that he “hoped it wouldn’t be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Had someone whispered the number “six” in his ear, he surely would have scoffed at the notion. And had they added “in seven years,” he probably would have been at a loss for words. Those things were far beyond the vision of the coaches and players of ‘88 - ‘89.

So although they didn’t talk about it, a showdown between #1 and #2, a rematch of the 1988 championship was certainly part of this team’s collective vision. Through the regular season and district tournaments the prospect became more credible. When the two teams emerged from their respective districts undefeated and seeded in opposite brackets at the state tournament, the game became an expectation. When they finally met, those who attended the Class B Championship game that year were prepared to witness something memorable. They were not disappointed. Two teams that had spent a season eyeing each other from a distance ran head on into each other at the Devaney Sports Center in front of one of the largest crowds to witness a state tournament game. In his post-season rankings, Omaha World Herald sports writer Larry Porter coined the word, “Richter Roar.” He defined it as “On rare occasions a roar comes along that is a tidal wave, a heaving earthquake, the pure note that breaks the glass.” Pius X and Wahoo were on a collision course and when they collided there would be a “richter roar.”

Lincoln Journal preseason rankings

"It's going to be a long, rough road, but we're optimistic." -- Coach Anderson

"When you start at the top any time you stub your toe, it's exaggerated .... blown out of proportion." -- Pius X Head Coach, Tom Seib

Having Kelly Hendricks, a third team Super State selection, return, along with three other starters was the main reason for Pius X getting the nod as the preseason #1.

Troy Glock would be the only returning starter for Wahoo, but he was a four year starter.

The 1988 - 1989 Team

Class B Repeat Championships:
Bethany ('36, '37, '38)
Seward ('48, '49)
Syracuse ('59, '60)
The odds were against a Wahoo repeat as Class B Champions -- only a few had accomplished such a feat.

"You've got to enjoy it while you're on a roll because you just don't know. Nothing is guaranteed." -- Coach Anderson

As the 1988 -1989 season began, the Wahoo community was still celebrating the 1988 Championship and planning on a repeat performance in 1989.