It’s been quite a week.
Congratulations to the Peetz and Sidney boys’ basketball teams for giving their fans a great show at state. I didn’t get to see the ‘Dogs in Loveland, but at least I saw them punch their ticket at regionals.
The Peetz vs. Arickaree/Woodlin regional final might have been the most entertaining game I saw all year – and that’s saying a lot. There’s something exciting about watching a team that is clearly an underdog work themselves to complete exhaustion in pursuit of victory. They wanted to win so badly they offered up the only chance they had – a supreme effort – and it worked. Great job by coches Jim Gardiner and Sean Fehringer and the whole Peetz basketball program and players. What a show.
It’s been a great fall and winter season for Peetz boys’ sports. They fell just a few points shy of a state final in football and reached the state tournament in basketball. Now they’ll have to find a way to replace seniors Bradey Holtz, Casey Barrett and the Roelle twins – Brian and Garrett.
Barrett could shoot lights out, and when he did, just forget it. He wasn’t likely to cool down any time soon. He was the one who got it started against Arickaree/Woodlin. And the Roelle brothers were the big guys. On the court they were welcome and productive relief to the starters while on the football field they were some of the rocks that allowed the skill players to look so good. As for Holtz, what can you say about a 5-foot, 7-inch point guard who was second on the team in rebounds.
As for Sidney, I did have a chance to see their three state playoff games in Lincoln – three very tight games against some of the best Class B basketball teams in Nebraska. With Scottsbluff and Sidney, those eastern teams learned a big dose of respect for how basketball is played in the west. Every game went deep into the fourth quarter before a winner could be determined.
Congratulations to their coaches Erik Kohl, Shawn Dillehay, Ryan Plummer and Bryan Schoening. There is a lot of success in the Sidney program and a lot of unheralded coaches and volunteers who deserve credit too. But more on the basketball later.
The only blowout I saw during my three-plus days in Lincoln was Sidney High School winning the Nebraska Coaches Association Class B Sportsmanship Award. An absolute slam dunk, especially when you consider how poorly the Elkhorn South student body behaved during the championship game.
I admit, I’m not especially sensitive to poor sportsmanship or foul language. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, something unpleasant is going to spring from my lips. And frankly I was too busy to pay much attention to what was happening in the stands behind me.
But when I heard the Elknorn South student section chanting, “Incest, Incest...,” I immediately turned around in a reflex reaction. I was interested to see all the Elkhorn South educators get all panicky about what was coming from their student section.
But there was nothing. Those men I saw in Elkhorn South shirts, who I assumed to be school officials, kept their eyes glued to the court without even batting an eye.
There was more though. Later, there were chants of “asshole,” “winning team, losing team,” “Hey, Hey, goodbye,” and much more. Upon the introduction of each Sidney player a unified chant rang out from the Elkhorn South section, “Who cares!”
Well, most of that was no big deal to me. Not even the foul language bothered me.
But wow, I thought. Could you imagine Jim Smyth putting up with that? Smyth was the assistant principal where I went to high school. If Smyth heard such things from us and it didn’t stop immediately, he probably would have run out to the middle of the court – waving his arms frantically – to demand his own school forfeit. Maybe that’s over the top, but I’m not so sure.
To be fair, I’ve occasionally seen SHS activities director Mike Brockhaus and principal Chris Arent waving their arms at the student section when the Sidney students may have crossed the line of good sportsmanship. But I never heard anything from Sidney like I did from Elkhorn South.
And it’s not the students fault. You get a group of teenagers together and they’ll do whatever they can get away with. But the Elkhorn South “educators” really embarrassed themselves.
The educators and student section probably could have taken their cues from the Storm players. They seemed to behave with absolute class from the opening tip. They fought Sidney every step of the way in a well-played, clean game. The Elkhorn South players were worthy of winning a state championship. Congratulations to them all. Many of the rest of the Elkhorn South group have a lot of work to do.
The Sidney players were also worthy of a state title – as were their students. While the sounds coming from the Sidney section were often deafening, it was all in an effort to inspire their team while having some fun too.
As for the Sidney players, what a show. It sure hurt afterward to come so close, but I hope by now they’ve all figured out what a special accomplishment it was to reach the state final – especially given how small Sidney High School is compared to the the competition.
Like Peetz, Sidney loses some valuable seniors. Cody Frerichs, Lane Harvey and Jared Ross won’t be back next year. How they will be replaced is up to Coach Kohl. That’s a tough assignment – but I’m sure he’ll relish the challenge.
I don’t know all the details about why Frerichs left the team after districts, so I won’t speculate. All I know is that in my face-to-face dealings with him, Frerichs was friendly, helpful and always smiling. A hard guy not to like. And when he hit one of those 3-pointers and that big smile came over his face, you could feel the whole team get a lift from his enthusiasm. How could you not miss that?
Harvey was the four-year starter at point guard. He was the straw that stirred the drink. When he brought the ball down the court, he had this look in his eye like he was going to get it done – one way or another. He’d look straight ahead with his eyes darting back-and-forth as he scanned the entire scene. Before long, you knew he was going to explode with a burst of energy in one direction or another.
I didn’t know much about Ross before this season. But I soon figured out what a big heart he has. And he could play too. He was a dangerous player inside who could make a post move and make it count. He had that knack of blocking shots with a big swat. He did that a few times at state. And he fought some challenging health issues along the way and battled his way back to be there when his teammates needed him.