1990 HOME
A Lot To Talk About
Armed & Dangerous
Pursuit Of Glory
The Journey
As Expected
Back to Back to Back
The Last Word

"We came down and bought 540 tickets. We could have sold more on the bus if we would have had them." -- Ernie Patzloff, Wahoo fan

Back to Back to Back

party time

It was party time -- time to strike up the band, put up signs and streamers, decorate cars and lockers, and shout from the rooftops that Wahoo was back again. With their fourth consecutive District title, the Warriors had met their stated goal -- “to get back and defend.” That was what was said, but maybe not what was meant. Maybe it was just a matter of semantics; maybe all along they were saying that a third consecutive title was the goal. But while Wahoo was becoming viewed as one of the perennial powers in Nebraska high school basketball, that was just recent history. For the program that hadn’t been to state in close to forty years, maybe there was a bit of a reality check. With each championship there was always the admission that a little luck was involved -- certainly many viewed Troy Glock’s buzzer three in 1989 as a little “lucky.” So, to explicitly state an intention to win a third consecutive title might have sounded a little audacious. It was important to get back -- Coach Anderson had admitted that a loss in the District would have felt like the “season pretty much goes down the tubes.” There was a small sense that reaching for a third consecutive title was something unimaginable, much like Coach Norman Dale in “Hoosiers” expressed it -- “I'm sure going to the state finals is beyond your wildest dreams, so let's just keep it right there.” Maybe that goal of a third title was intentionally kept just out of sight. However, as the team prepared for their trip to the state tournament, the vision of a third title was right before their eyes. Whatever the explanation might be for the “get back and defend” statements, it was clear to all who watched the Warriors of 1990 in that state tournament that Wahoo was intent on a third championship.

Having earned their “chance to defend,” it might have been expected that the 1990 Warriors would waltz into the state tournament with a laissez-faire attitude; that they would come to the party ready to dance, but not overly concerned about the outcome. The coaches and players might be expected to say things like, “we’ll play our best and let the chips fall where they may.” But such was not the case. Instead, the approach would be what one sportswriter following the tournament would call “businesslike.” The revised goal statement was “Our goal is we have three games to go. That’s all we think of.” (Coach Anderson) As Randy Hoffman put it, “We will be ready to play when we get on the floor ... Right now the only thing on my mind is winning the tournament.” The approach of the Warriors could certainly be called “businesslike.” While the Wahoo community had clearly caught basketball fever, the team itself was a little insulated. Anderson described the team’s experience: “We go, we play, we come home, we workout, we eat, and we sleep. We don’t get caught up in all the hoopla.” This was an approach that grew out of four consecutive trips to the tournament. Other teams might be overwhelmed. Schuyler coach, Steve Peterson, who’s team was making a second consecutive appearance in the Class B tournament reflected that “Last year we were just in awe of everything.”

The Warriors of 1990 had experience on their side, and were certainly not in awe of the state tournament atmosphere. But they were playing a different role than their predecessors. For the first time in their four trips to the tournament, this time the Warriors were the odds on favorite. Coach Anderson admitted, “we’ve replaced Pius as the team to beat in the state tournament. That’s the way it ought to be.” The reaching and grabbing and striving of ‘88 and ‘89 had been replaced by an attitude of holding on and trying to fend off the challengers. Many tried to downplay the pressure, but as Troy Johnston saw it, “It’s hard to avoid the pressure,” but also noted that “we have the senior leadership on this team to handle the pressure if it is there.” Anderson also believed in his team’s leadership: “If we would lose, it is not because we choked. We have been in too many big games for that to happen.”

The experienced approach of the team was mirrored by the experienced approach of the community as Wahoo prepared for the annual trek to Lincoln. The fans of 1990 knew all the ins and outs of the “hoopla” that Coach Anderson said the team avoided. They knew how to best make yard signs; how to make signs big enough to be seen at the Sports Center; where and how to hang those signs; when to show up at games and how to get the best seats; how to get the T-shirts and what sizes to get; how to get ticket booklets (after all, they were planning on three games). As novice fans blinked vacantly at the tiers of seats confronting them at Bob Devaney, the Wahoo fans quickly filled up their side of the arena. The Wahoo band was in the house and belting out a tune while others might still be looking for the right gate. After staking out their territory, the fans clapped along with the band, grinned at each other and proclaimed loudly their belief that a third championship was imminent. In short, they were having fun -- it was a real party. As for the team, they weren’t joining in just yet as Coach Anderson said, “Our feeling is we’ll (the team) have fun after the state tournament.” The Wahoo players knew what the state tournament was all about. Steve Volin: “It is a lot different at Bob’s house. You can bet we’ll be ready to play.” And so the party began.

Pt. 2 -- the record
"Our people are going to turn out enmasse. It's a tribute to our community." -- Coach Anderson