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Lincoln East vs. Lincoln Southwest, boys hoops, 2/9/18

Lincoln East's Jordan Janssen scores during the first half against Lincoln Southwest in February. Janssen is one of the top post players in the state, shooting 58 percent from the field.

KAYLA WOLF, Journal Star file photo

Class A

First-round games

At Pinnacle Bank Arena

2 p.m. — No. 3 Omaha Central (24-2) vs. No. 6 Millard South (16-7, 65.6 points per game; 58.1 points allowed)

3:45 — No. 4 Bellevue West (18-6) vs. No. 8 Kearney (18-6, 59.6; 46.6)

7 p.m. — No. 1 Creighton Prep (23-1, 70.7; 52.2) vs. No. 10 Lincoln Pius X (16-8, 63.6; 55.4)

8:45 — No. 2 Lincoln East (24-1, 62.4; 44.6) vs. No. 7 Omaha Bryan (19-5)

First-round games to watch

Creighton Prep vs. Pius X — The regular-season game a month ago was much closer than the 73-52 final score indicated, because Pius X led on four different occasions in the third quarter. If the Thunderbolts shoot like they did while racking up 91 points in the district final against Millard South, they can beat anyone.

Lincoln East vs. Omaha Bryan — The only Class A game that is not a rematch from the regular season. Both teams like to get out and push the pace, but look for the Spartans to take advantage of their height and keep the Bears locked in a half-court struggle.

Players to watch

Roman Behrens, Omaha Central, 6-1, sr. (16.4 ppg., 7.0 apg) — The returning third-team Super-State point guard ignites a high-octane Eagle offense. His father, Eric, returned to Central this season after coaching at Peru State. He guided the Eagles to seven state championships in his first stint.

Kyle Perry, Millard South, 6-2, sr. (20.7 ppg., 4.6 rpg) — The Nebraska pitching recruit is as relentless on the basketball court as he is on the diamond.

Cedric Johnson, Bellevue West, 6-2, sr. (16.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) — Johnson complements freshman point guard Chucky Hepburn, who’s at 13.8 points and 4.7 assists per contest.

Kanon Koster, Kearney, 6-4, sr. (22.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.5 apg) — The 2017 first-team Super-Stater had more responsibility this season after 6-7 junior Shiloh Robinson was lost for the season because of wrist surgery, and Koster has been up to the challenge. Great jumper and dynamic dunker.

Akol Arop, Creighton Prep, 6-6, jr. (16.2 ppg., 9.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg) — His shot-blocking ability, scoring and rebounding inside change the game. Junior guard Jaylin Hunter and Prep's three-point shooters have made Arop even more effective.

Charlie Easley, Lincoln Pius X, 6-2, jr. (17.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.9 spg) — Now healthy, Easley is a major factor in the Thunderbolts’ electric offense.

Sam Griesel, 6-6, sr. (17.5 ppg), & Jordan Janssen, 6-6, sr. (15.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Lincoln East — Both are matchup nightmares for the other team. Griesel, a South Dakota recruit, is the guard/small forward type who can drive or shoot the three. Janssen is one of the top post players in the state, shooting 58 percent from the field.

Tre’Veion Crawford, Omaha Bryan, 6-3, Sr. (18.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg) — Has the ability to take over a game at any time with three-point shooting touch and the strength to bully inside.

How it may play out

To this point, Creighton Prep, Lincoln East and Omaha Central have risen above the rest and all three come into state with lots of momentum. Central won the regular-season matchup against Millard South, Kearney edged Bellevue West in the first week of the regular season and Prep took off late to beat Pius X a month ago. The potential Prep vs. East semifinal on Friday will feel like a state championship game, so the winner needs to be ready to refocus quickly for a possible final against Central.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.


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