There’s an old cheer that would be initiated at basketball games when a player made his first freethrow “We want another one just like the other one.” That sentiment was loud and clear for the 1994 Wahoo Warriors right from the beginning of the season. There was no doubt in the minds of the players, coaches, and the entire Wahoo community that the goal was another state title. As a matter of fact, that goal had become a presumption. Coach Anderson commented on another possible title: “Today, it’s expected, and there are some people who won’t be satisfied unless we win the whole thing.” The pressure of that expectation had been ratcheted up a bit when Coach Anderson announced his retirement just before the end of the regular season. Although winning for the coach didn’t become the central focus, players did acknowledge that it was important to them that the coach “go out a winner.” Coach Anderson noted that the loss in the holiday tournament may have actually helped “The loss took away the pressure of being undefeated and it helped us keep things in focus.” Travis Toline saw the one loss as motivation: “When we lost in the holiday tournament, it just made us want to win more than before.” There’s no way of knowing if that extra motivation was necessary, but the team’s 27 1 record and list of accomplishments attests to its success.
The 1993 1994 season for the Wahoo Warriors resulted in the usual litany of team accomplishments. The team registered its seventh consecutive Wahoo Holiday Tournament Championship (four at Wahoo and three at Neumann), sixth consecutive Conference Tournament Championship, eighth consecutive District Championship, and a second consecutive Class B State Championship (the sixth in seven years). Along with those titles, the Warriors ranked #1 in both the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald rankings. The Omaha World Herald put Wahoo #4 in its All Class rankings. The team average of 91.54 was the second highest in Nebraska state high school history and was the highest to ever win a state championship. The 27 wins was a new school record.
With such a high degree of team success came numerous postseason individual awards. Once again, the Capitol Conference, in spite of the overwhelming dominance by Wahoo chose to include players from other teams in its first team selections. Wahoo’s “big three” Mike Hancock, Travis Toline, Greg Hain -- all earned first team recognition. Mike Simons was named to the second team. The Wahoo Newspaper echoed those selections with Hancock, Toline and Hain on the first team and Simons on the second team. For his excellent performance in the state tournament, Hain was selected to the Class B and All-Class All-Tournament teams and Hancock was named to the Class B All-Tournament team. The Wahoo stars also ranked high in the newspaper awards for 1994 as both Hain and Hancock were selected by both newspapers to the Class B All State team with Hain being named the honorary captain of the LJS team. Both were also recognized as second team Super State. Greg Hain set a new school record for season assists (213). Mike Hancock set a new school record for career steals (286) and 3 point goals in a career (249) which was also a new state record.
After each championship season, a community banquet was held at the high school. As would be expected, the gathering that took place on March 23rd, 1994 was a fun filled celebration with smiles all around. That banquet was an appropriate representation of the 1993-1994 season. The most recent previous championship festivities had had a tinge of relief to them. The 1991 season was a quest for an unprecedented fourth consecutive title and, of course, a state record win streak. The 1993 season had been a quest for redemption from the 1992 loss. Greg Hain had noted that his senior team was not under the same duress as his junior season: “This team’s not feeling pressure. The class above us grew up with our streak on their shoulders.” Travis Toline agreed, “We’re having fun. What other people say about us or whether they think we’re under pressure doesn’t matter.” Coach Anderson compared the 1994 title to the earlier wins by the Warriors: “That (the first title) was fun and crazy. Nobody expected us to do much back then. It was almost giddy compared to the way so many people see our team today.”
During that community gathering, while the season’s success was celebrated and the past record of the retiring coach was honored, there was also a passing of the torch. Assistant Coach Mark Watton had been named to succeed Anderson at the helm of the Warriors. At the banquet, Coach Watton was presented a gold covered boot in recognition of the “big shoes” he would have to fill. So, of course, as attention turned from the success of the 1994 team to the future prospects of the Wahoo program, there was concern over what a different coach would mean to the team. In his retirement, Coach Anderson had emphasized that they had built a program that was more important than any one person. But still, it remained to be seen if Watton could maintain such a high level of success. Added to the concern over the coaching change was the immaturity of the team Watton would be inheriting. Since the beginning of the championship run by Wahoo, there had always been key junior starters returning to lead the team as seniors. In 1988 the team had Steve Carmer, a returning all stater. In 1989 Troy Glock returned as a starter to lead his team to the title. After his sophomore year, Jason Glock would return in 1990 and 1991. Jeff Simons was a returning senior starter in 1992 and the 1993 team had Joel Weyand, Justin Anderson and Mike Hancock. In 1994 it was Hancock, Hain and Toline. 1995 would have only one regular starter return, Mike Simons, and he would be a junior. Of course, Simons was a pretty good player to build a team around. He was the 1994 team’s leading rebounder and had averaged 13.32 points. Another sophomore, Josh Anderson had extensive varsity experience and had started nearly half the games in 1993. Behind them were four other sophomores who had led the Wahoo junior varsity’s dominating 1994 season, but who had limited varsity experience. From the outside, there appeared to be a crack in the Wahoo armor. Would a rookie coach and a relatively inexperienced starting lineup interrupt Wahoo’s string of championship seasons? There was one mitigating factor the Nebraska Schools Activities Association had installed a new classification system which would put Wahoo in Class C1 rather than Class B where it had won its six championships. Theoretically that would make things a little easier. But Wahoo’s schedule. which had been upgraded significantly, would not change, and the quality of basketball played at the state tournament level wouldn’t be that significantly inferior.
The shoes Mark Watton would be filling were indeed big. It would be a challenge to field a team that would compare favorably to the Warriors of 1994. The 1994 team was special. Even opposing coaches recognized it after losing to Wahoo in the first round of the state tournament, Aurora Coach Phil Warrick commented on Wahoo’s play: “It’s pretty to watch.” Greg Hain recognized it “This basketball season has been the best time of my life. I’m playing with quality players and from playing together so long, we all seem to know what we’re doing and our style of play is a lot of fun.” Coach Anderson recognized it “It was a fun year. I probably felt less pressure than any of the recent years.” As for the future, maybe it was best represented by a personal note to Coach Anderson from seventh grade fan and future Warrior, Josh Kaisschke, the son of assistant coach Harry Kasischke : “Best of Luck and the tradition will continue” (the “will” was underlined three times). That proved to be a prophetic statement.
After defeating Norris in the state final, Coach Anderson had commented, “We didn’t do everything perfectly, but we certainly did enough things right.” The Warriors did plenty of things right in 1994. And the season had ended perfectly with Coach Anderson walking off the court for the final time with a state championship trophy. The dance was over. It sure had been fun. And you could already hear the cheer “We want another one.”