The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Rob Langrell
Publisher of the Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Heartbreak for Red Raiders

Let's tip our hats to the fine season Sidney turned in

 

Stephen McKay

In a photo taken with a fisheye lens, the Sidney High students – or the "Red Zone" – turned out in large numbers to root on their Red Raiders on Saturday for the championship game.

LINCOLN, Neb. – The large overhead scoreboard in Pinnacle Bank Arena read: Elkhorn South 52, Sidney 47.

That was with a minute and 18 seconds left, precisely when the Storm's Johnny Trueblood strolled to the free-throw line.

He calmly sank his first shot. After receiving the ball from the referee and a couple of dribbles later, he made the second one as well to put Elkorn South up by seven points.

I could feel the lump in my throat and a little moisture briefly well up in my eyes. The dream of a state basketball championship for Sidney High School had slipped away. It was now a three-possession game.

Many of the Raider fans and parents decked out in red knew it too. So did the student section – or "Red Zone."

All of us had traveled the 350 miles to Lincoln to watch the Red Raiders try to bring a basketball title back home to Western Nebraska. Sidney was an underdog all week, a Cinderella who had crashed the ball.

Normally, a game that I'm covering – win or lose – doesn't have much of an effect on me. I've written about countless athletic contests, from high school to college to professional. Fortunately, my job has taken me to Final Fours and bowl games to Super Bowls and other championships.

This one seemed different though.

I'm still fairly new to Sidney, relocating the family last August from Las Vegas. In that short time, I've seen the success that the Red Raider athletic programs boast. As the publisher of the local newspaper, I've tried to become vested in the schools and the community in general.

I had gotten to know several of the players on the basketball team, covering some of their games and watching others simply as a fan. They're a great group of teenagers who worked hard for what they accomplished this year.

But there's no cheering on press row. When you apply for a media credential at a sports event, you give up your right to cheer. It doesn't mean you can't feel the emotion of what happens right before your eyes.

I was in Coach Erik Kohl's corner in spirit. He had always made himself available after games or practices. It didn't matter if it was a win or a loss – though the 22 wins far outweighed the handful of losses – he spoke candidly about his team and that night's game.

After Saturday's 60-51 loss to Elkhorn South in the Nebraska Class B State Championship game, Kohl was his usual self. Obviously disappointed in the outcome, he still held his head up high and faced the media. He gave Elkhorn South credit and applauded the effort from his team.

He represented Sidney and the Red Raiders' program well all week in Lincoln.

And to say that Kohl gets 100 percent from his players is truly an understatement. Just take a look at the school enrollment numbers of the Class B teams he and the Red Raiders faced in Lincoln: Scottsbluff (613), Beatrice (485) and Elkhorn South (794).

In case you didn't know, Sidney checks in at 255.

That's quite a stacked deck when you're considering the potential athletic talent pool from an entire school's student body. No matter though, all of Sidney's coaches help produce top-notch teams.

In just my short time here in town, the football team qualified for the state tournament, the girls' golf team took fourth at state, the girls' cross country team finished third at state and the boys' squad took eighth.

And that was just in the fall.

This winter, the girls' basketball team won the regular-season district title and came within one win of qualifying for state. The wrestling team went undefeated in dual meets, send four wrestlers to state and brought home the first individual state title since 1999.

The sports programs at the high school make the entire community proud. Now I just can't wait for the next state tournament run by a Red Raider team.

SIDNEY RED RAIDERS (22-5), GAME-BY-GAME

Thursday, Dec. 4 W Greeley West, 60-37

Friday, Dec. 5 W Chadron, 51-49

Saturday, Dec. 6 L Scottsbluff, 67-54

Friday, Dec. 12 W at Chase County, 63-54

Saturday, Dec. 13 W vs. Sterling (Colo.), 47-31

Thursday, Dec. 18 W at Alliance, 73-51

Friday, Dec. 19 L at Ft. Morgan (Colo.), 61-50

Friday, Jan. 2 W Gothenburg, 63-40

Saturday, Jan. 3 W Chase County, 64-57

Thursday, Jan. 8 W at Kimball, 60-20

Friday, Jan. 9 W at Gering, 71-69

Saturday, Jan. 10 W vs. McCook, 65-49

Friday, Jan. 16 W vs. Ogallala, 66-41

Saturday, Jan. 17 W at Lexington, 80-64

Friday, Jan. 23 W vs. Scottsbluff, 65-58

Friday, Jan. 30 W at Chadron, 59-49

Saturday, Jan. 31 W at Hershey, 76-30

Tuesday, Feb. 3 W vs. Perkins County, 78-26

Friday, Feb. 6 W vs. Gering, 54-42

Saturday, Feb. 7 L at Scottsbluff, 70-56

Friday, Feb. 13 W vs. Chadron, 52-44

Saturday, Feb. 14 W at Mitchell, 74-24

Friday, Feb. 20 W vs. Alliance, 72-60

Monday, March 2 L vs. Alliance, 56-50 *

Thursday, March 12 W vs. Scottsbluff, 65-63 #

Friday, March13 W vs. Beatrice, 51-48 #

Saturday, March 14 L vs. Elkhorn South, 60-51 #

* District B-6 Tournament

# Class B State Tournament

 

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