At Pinnacle Bank Arena
9 a.m. — No. 3 Aurora (22-4, 61.7 points, 49.1 points allowed) vs. No. 5 Bennington (23-3, 61.6; 49)
10:45 — No. 2 York (24-1, 58.4; 40.9) vs. No. 10 Crete (18-8, 52; 43)
At Devaney Sports Center
7 p.m. — No. 4 Platteview (24-2, 67.9; 39.3) vs. No. 7 Gretna (18-6, 55.6; 45.4)
8:45 — No. 1 Omaha Skutt (23-3, 61; 47) vs. No. 6 Omaha Roncalli (19-5, 56.8; 46.8)
First-round games to watch
Aurora vs. Bennington — The only first-round game that’s not a rematch from the regular season is also the most intriguing. Both teams possesses potent 1-2 punches: Aurora hits opponents with Henry Penner and Baylor Scheierman, and Bennington counters with 6-foot-2 juniors Cooper Prososki and Karson Gansebom.
York vs. Crete — York won the first two meetings handily, but expect the Cardinals with their senior-dominated squad to put up more of a fight at state.
Players to watch
Brady Heiman, 6-10, sr. (17.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 4.3 bpg) & Nate Thayer, 6-3, sr. (15.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 6.1 apg), Platteview — Heiman has shown why he’s a Nebraska signee with dominant play inside. Thayer, a Wayne State recruit and returning all-stater, has been a facilitator this season but has looked to score more in the postseason.
Henry Penner, 6-5, sr. (17.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg), & Baylor Scheierman, 6-6, Jr. (15.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.6 apg), Aurora — Size and the ability to go inside and outside makes them a tough duo to stop. Penner has signed with Nebraska-Kearney, while Scheierman, a point guard, is committed to South Dakota State.
Brady Danielson, York, 6-3, jr. (16.2 ppg, 5 rpg, 4 apg) — A first-team Super-State football player who has had basketball No. 1 on his list in the past. Teammates Garrett Snodgrass and Simon Otte are both Nebraska football recruits, two more important pieces in York’s drive for the basketball-football state title sweep.
Carter Kent, Crete, 6-2, sr. (15.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) — The go-to guard on a team with options both at the three-point line and the interior.
Karson Gansebom, 6-2, jr. (16.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg) & Cooper Prososki, 6-2, jr. (16.1 ppg., 4.1 rpg.), Bennington — The fact the duo has combined for 132 assists this season shows they know how to find each other in a position to score.
How it may play out
While the top five teams (Omaha Skutt, York, Aurora, Platteview and Bennington) all can make a case for a possible run to a state championship, don’t count out two-time defending state champion Gretna. The Dragons beat first-round opponent Platteview in overtime in January and 6-3 senior Joey Johnson is back after nailing the game-winning three-pointer last season in the championship game. Led by 6-3 senior Austin Ash (13 ppg.) and 6-3 sophomore Tyson Gordon (10.6 ppg), Skutt has won 15 straight since a two-point loss in January to Roncalli, which the SkyHawks then beat by 15 in the River Cities Conference tournament. Skutt also has beaten Aurora, Gretna and Class A state qualifier Lincoln Pius X during that stretch.