1989 Home

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

A New Title -- good news, bad news

“We didn’t care who we played just so we got down there.” With those words, Head Coach, Mark Etzelmiller expressed the Ogallala approach to their opening round game with the #1 seeded Wahoo Warriors. Although most teams qualifying for the state tournament sport impressive records, frequently teams get in with mediocre (or even in some cases, losing) records. That’s the beauty of the district basketball tournaments -- everyone starts out with a chance to qualify for state. For Ogallala it hadn’t seemed like much of a chance as they entered their district with a four game losing streak and a losing record (8 - 9). But a first round win over Valentine was followed by an upset of the number one seed in the district, Chadron. Then, although down by six with under two minutes to go, the Indians came back to beat Sidney 64 - 62 and win the District crown. It was the classic “Cinderella story.” Etzelmiller stated the obvious, “The kids and the town are pretty excited.” The underdog had won and was headed to Lincoln to play for a state championship. That was the good news.

The bad news was that Ogallala would face undefeated Wahoo. As with the district tournament, Wahoo again reaped the benefits of its undefeated record and garnered the top seed (thanks to having one more win than Lincoln Pius X). The seventh seed, Schuyler, Pius X’s opponent came into the tournament with a 16 - 7 record, considerably better than Ogallala. And yet, that was all on paper. Over the years many tales could be told of top seeds getting derailed by hungry underdogs. Coach Etzelmiller called the matchup a “challenge” and even said the Wahoo win streak was “motivating” his players.

When the game tipped off at 7:00 p.m. in Pershing Auditorium, the Ogallala side of the scoreboard showed the same “0” as Wahoo. Then the incredible happened. Wahoo missed its opening shot and Ogallala advanced the ball to their end of the court where Jason Curtis nailed a fifteen footer and Ogallala took the lead. With that score, the Ogallala fan’s apprehension of playing the big bully number one team ebbed and the confidence first garnered by that District Championship flowed. Then Wahoo responded. Continually making pinpoint passes to their big men inside, the Warriors pulled away. Jason Glock had tallied 11 points by the end of the first quarter. Randy Hoffman scored on four consecutive shots in the second quarter. When the visiting westerners looked at the scoreboard at the end of the first half, they trailed 39 - 16. The confidence was gone and reality had set in. Etzelmiller expressed the frustration: “We couldn’t press them ... You can’t just stop one side (in the half court) .... they’ll reverse the ball and the opposite side will be open.”

Things didn’t get any better for Ogallala in the third quarter as Coach Anderson began using his subs early. Jason Glock exited half way through the quarter, finishing with 24 points. With a 61 - 26 point lead at the end of the quarter, Wahoo’s bench played the entire fourth quarter, still managing to outscore the Indians by one point. Wahoo’s subs got some valuable state tournament experience as reserves Scott Latham (6) and Mike Dvorak (4) led the scoring in the final stanza. Nine players scored for the Warriors.

Prior to the tournament, Coach Etzelmiller had sounded somewhat like John Lennon as he sang the refrain, “Give us a chance.” But the truth was that the Indians didn’t have much of a chance against the taller, quicker, and more experienced Warriors. If Etzelmiller would have had a crystal ball, he could have seen some good news on the horizon. He would get another chance to use a Wahoo win streak as “motivation.” A future visit to the state tournament would be more successful. But in 1989, playing Wahoo had been bad news.

View details of the Ogallala game.

A New Title, Pt. 3 -- a familiar foe
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Rarely do bench players see extensive playing time in the State Tournament. The combination of the level of competition and the coaches' fears of blowing a big lead usually keep the appearances of the players at the bottom end of the ladder short. While double digit, and certainly 20 point leads appear more than secure to the fans, the perspective is different closer to the court in the coach's seat. So it was a memorable opportunity for the Wahoo bench players when Wahoo stretched its lead over Ogallala into the 40's in the 3rd quarter. These subs wouldn't just get in for a token few seconds to say they played in the State Tournament, or even worse, kneel at the scorers' bench as the last seconds ticked off. They would play extensive minutes and even have the chance to score. Of the twelve players suited for the game, only Steve Volin didn't make it on the court -- he was out with a sprained ankle. In the video: Bernie Inbody nets a 3; Mike Dvorak scores off the break; Ron Stoupa posts up; Troy Johnston scores off the break; Scott Latham posts up.

The Ogallala roster and record as it appeared in the State Tournament Program.

Junior Mike Dvorak was part of the roster in 1988, but didn't get to suit up for the tournament. In 1989, he was not only in uniform, but scored four points in the Ogallala game.