The state tournament will have a little different look this season without some of the usual suspects.
Millard West is staying home after reaching state the past six years.
Bellevue West, which has played in the Class A final four times since 2007 and won three titles, also won't be there.
Neither will Wahoo, which finished as the Class C-1 state runner-up the past two years.
"It's a weird feeling," Wildcats coach Kip Colony said. "I went out to lunch with my wife today and I'm usually busy breaking down film of our tourney opponent."
Millard West, the state runner-up in 2008 and 2010, was unable to beat Papillion-La Vista South in the District A-6 final. The Titans prevailed 56-51, avenging a three-point loss against the Wildcats.
"They'd been playing really well," Colony said. "They made the plays late in the game and we didn't."
Millard West still had a shot at the lone Class A wild card, but that disappeared when Bellevue East lost its district final at home against Lincoln Southwest. Colony got the bad news as he was walking off the court following the loss.
"I had a feeling that was going to happen," Colony said. "Southwest has a good team and Bellevue East had some good players get hurt."
Bellevue West coach Matt Fritsche also had some extra time on his hands this weekend. He was driving to Lincoln to watch his niece's team play.
"Of course I'm disappointed that we won't be playing at state," Fritsche said. "But I'm proud of the way our team battled this season because we had a ton of injuries."
The Thunderbirds came to the end of the road in their district final at Fremont. The inspired Tigers, playing on their home court, pulled away for a 62-44 victory to secure the school's first state berth since 1985.
"It was a great atmosphere out there," Fritsche said. "They deserve to be going to state."
Bellevue West's loss means that All-Nebraska senior guard Chelsea Mason will be missing from the state tourney spotlight. She led Class A in scoring with a 22-point average but it still wasn't enough to overcome Fremont.
"She's carried us many nights this season," Fritsche said. "It's too bad she won't get to play at state one more time."
Wahoo came up short in its Class C-1 district final against defensive-minded Columbus Scotus, losing 37-29. The Warriors also had an opportunity to reach state as a wild card, but district losses by Chadron and Sandy Creek gave those teams the edge.
"I truly feel we're still one of the best teams in C-1," Wahoo coach Linda Walker said. "Unfortunately, we're not going to get a chance to show it."
Wahoo (21-5) finished just behind Sandy Creek for the final wild-card slot in Class B. The Cougars' point average was 44.68 and the Warriors had 44.54.
"It's almost worse coming that close," Walker said. "We could look back on the season and think if we had just won one more game, it would have made a difference."
Sandy Creek snagged a wild card berth after losing its district final in four overtimes to Lincoln Christian.
"If they win that game, we're in," Walker said. "It just wasn't meant to be for us."
All three coaches said they would still attend the state tournament this week, though it won't be easy.
"Some really good teams are staying home this year," Colony said. "But it is what it is."
Ratings update: Omaha Central continues to lead the way in the Nebraska Top 10, followed closely by Lincoln Southeast. Undefeated Seward remains third, followed by Columbus and a Lincoln Northeast team that jumps from seventh to fifth.
The newcomer in the Top 10 is Lincoln Southwest, which drilled Bellevue East in the District A-4 final. The Silver Hawks move to ninth while the Chieftains fall to 10th.
Losses by previously top-ranked Homer (Class C-2), Hitchcock County (D-1) and Lindsay Holy Family (D-2) lead to three new No. 1 teams — Norfolk Lutheran in C-2, West Point Guardian Angels in D-1 and Howells in D-2.
Coaches named: Fritsche and Crofton's Aaron Losing will coach the Pinnacle Bank senior All-Star team while Kearney's Jason Boyd and Fremont's Tony Weinandt will coach the Pinnacle junior team.
Tryouts for the statewide squads will be held March 11 at 11:30 a.m. at Grand Island High School and March 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln.
All-state forms needed: Coaches are asked to return their all-state nominations by March 12 and preferably by next week. They may be faxed to 402-444-1238 or emailed to email@example.com.
Coaches of teams in Class A, Class B and the Omaha area are asked to return their final statistics by that same date.
Contact the writer: