A pair of All-Metro Conference finals on Monday night could start the league toward a record harvest of state-tournament berths.
An upset or two, and seven of the eight qualifiers for the March 8 to 10 Class A tournament at the Devaney Center would be from the Metro. Twice in the previous five seasons, 2007 and 2011, there were six Metro teams that qualified.
Ten of the 14 semifinal winners Saturday are from the Metro. The exceptions are Norfolk, Kearney, Lincoln Southeast and Lincoln North Star.
District finals begin Monday night with Top 10 No. 3 Papillion-La Vista (20-3) hosting Millard West (11-12) and No. 7 Millard North (17-6) hosting Omaha Benson (14-9). Both games start at 7 p.m.
Millard West lost to Papio 64-57 in mid-December. Both teams are trying to end lengthy absences from state — Papio last was there in 1997 and West in 2003.
Conversely, Millard North and Benson both went to state last season and lost in the first round. This will be the third game between the teams this season, with Benson winning in the Metro holiday tournament after losing to the Mustangs two weeks earlier.
Millard North has its most wins since going 20-4 in the 1986-87 season.
Tuesday's finals are Kearney at No. 1 Omaha Central at 6 p.m., Omaha Creighton Prep at No. 2 Norfolk at 7:30, No. 6 Bellevue West at No. 10 Lincoln North Star at 7, Bellevue East at Class A No. 10 Lincoln Southeast at 7 and No. 8 Omaha Bryan at No. 9 Omaha South at 7.
Class B has its semifinals Monday and finals Tuesday. A look at the semifinals:
District B-1 at Lincoln High: Lincoln Pius X (12-7) plays Norris (9-10) at 5:45 p.m., trying to avenge a 74-58 loss from December. At 7:30, Waverly (10-9) plays Plattsmouth (11-11). The Vikings started Plattsmouth on its four-game losing streak by winning 65-40 on Feb. 10.
District B-2 at Omaha Westside: Ralston (11-13) takes a four-game winning streak into its 5:30 p.m. game against Omaha Gross, which beat the Rams 69-57 in early January. At 7:15, Omaha Skutt (14-8) tries to go 3-0 this season against 2011 state runner-up Gretna (10-11).
District B-3 at Fremont High: Elkhorn South (13-9) and Elkhorn (18-3) play for the third time this season in the 7:30 p.m. nightcap. The Storm beat Elkhorn 60-48 to end the Antlers' regular season. At 5:45 p.m., two-time defending Class B champion South Sioux City (15-6) plays Bennington (12-12).
District B-4 at Lincoln Southwest: No. 1 Beatrice (19-1) plays Schuyler (2-19) at 5 p.m., with Seward (10-12) and Crete (10-11) playing at 6:30. Crete beat the Jays 58-42 the final Friday of the regular season.
District B-5 at Kearney High: Aurora (14-6) plays Holdrege (5-14) at 6 p.m. Aurora's four-game winning streak includes a 61-43 win over the Dusters. At 7:45, Hastings (9-12) plays Grand Island Northwest (12-9). Northwest nipped the Tigers 55-54 in January.
District B-6 at Grant: McCook (16-9) will try for its second win of the month over Scottsbluff (20-3) in the 5 p.m. MT opener. At 6:30, Gering (17-5) goes for its third win of the season over Sidney (14-7).
Here's how the wild-card picture appears for Classes C-1 and C-2, which play their district finals Monday:
Class C-1: Boys Town and Minden will go to state as the top two seeds even if both lose their district finals. Boys Town (23-1) plays Wisner-Pilger (17-9) at Blair and Minden (21-1) plays Valentine (20-4) at Broken Bow.
If both win, subdistrict loser Wahoo (22-3) would be one wild card. The other would go to subdistrict loser Milford if Fairbury beats Lincoln Christian in the C1-1 final at Doane College in Crete. Norfolk Catholic and Kimball also remain in wild-card contention.
Class C-2: Norfolk Lutheran Northeast (21-3), which lost its subdistrict opener, has clinched one wild card. The other would go to Ravenna (24-0) if it loses to Sutton (23-2) in the C2-2 final at Grand Island Senior High. If Ravenna wins, three teams remain in wild-card contention: North Platte St. Patrick's (19-5), Sutton and subdistrict loser Stanton (21-2).
St. Patrick's would take the wild card if Ravenna wins, the Irish lose to Perkins County (9-15) in the C2-6 final at Sutherland and Hershey wins its Class C-1 final against Kimball. St. Pat's played Hershey (16-5), a team that can drop in classification in the NSAA point system if it loses Monday night, three times during the regular season. If Hershey loses, it costs St. Pat's three points for each loss.
Sutton, should it lose to Ravenna, would need either St. Pat's or Hershey to lose Monday night and then have High Plains win its district final Tuesday to be the wild card.
Stanton needs Ravenna to win and have St. Pat's win or Hershey lose on Monday. Then the Mustangs would be rooting for Humphrey St. Francis to beat High Plains in the C1-4 district final Tuesday at Columbus Lakeview.
Ravenna will be the No. 1 seed at state in C-2.
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