At Lincoln Southeast
2 p.m. — No. 2 Hastings St. Cecilia (22-3, 52.7 points per game; 37.4 allowed) vs. No. 9 South Loup (21-3, 66.8; 40.7)
3:45 — No. 3 Yutan (24-1, 58.0; 34.8) vs. Arcadia-Loup City (22-4, 59; 47)
7 p.m. — No. 1 Ponca (27-1, 65.8; 40.1) vs. Perkins County (16-7, 55.4; 44.7)
8:45 — No. 5 Elmwood-Murdock (19-4, 58.1; 40.9) vs. No. 4 BRLD (24-2, 59.2; 40.3)
First-round games to watch
Hastings St. Cecilia vs. South Loup — St. Cecilia won titles in 2015 and ’16 before slipping in the semifinals last season. With a 16-game winning streak coming into the tournament and wins over Grand Island Central Catholic, Lincoln Christian, O’Neill and Centennial during that string, the Bluehawks will be tough to stop.
Elmwood-Murdock vs. BRLD — BRLD will try to counter Wes Dreamer with a balanced team that depends on depth and contributions from numerous players. BRLD’s only C-2 loss is to No. 1 Ponca by eight points.
Players to watch
Wes Dreamer, 6-6, jr. (22.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg), & Zach Rust, 6-2, sr. (14.6 ppg), Elmwood-Murdock — Dreamer’s three-point shooting range and driving ability make him a Division I college prospect. Rust makes teams pay when they double-team Dreamer.
Cade Connell, South Loup, 6-3, sr. (17.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg) — Teams can’t focus too much on Connell, not with 6-0 junior teammate Kalen Dockweiler (14.5 ppg) around.
Blane Boyd, Hastings St. Cecilia, 6-4, sr. (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) — St. Cecilia’s large array of three-point shooters, led by 5-11 senior Trevor Leach (11.3 ppg), gives Boyd lots of room inside to operate.
Colton Feist, Yutan, 6-3, sr. (11.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg) — Feist, a first-team Super-State football player and Nebraska walk-on recruit, was all-state in basketball a year ago. Senior Mason Timm (12.3 ppg) is the Chieftains’ top outside threat.
Nolan Baker, Arcadia-Loup City, 6-1, sr. (15.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) — The guard leads four players who average in double figures for the Rebels.
Logan Kingsbury, Ponca, 6-2, sr. (10.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg) — The returning first-team all-stater is the Indians’ second leading scorer this season behind his younger brother, 6-4 sophomore Carter Kingsbury (11.3 ppg).
How it may play out
This class has fared well against the top C-1 teams, so expect high-caliber basketball this weekend. Ponca and St. Cecilia, the last two C-2 state champions, appear to be a step ahead of everyone else, but teams such as Yutan, Elmwood-Murdock and BRLD can’t be counted out. Look for some great games on the final two days of the tournament.