Mark These Games on Your Omaha Basketball Calendar

High School basketball season is back and YurView has an impressive slate of games. Here’s a preview of what’s to come in boys and girls’ basketball in Omaha.

December 12: Millard West at Omaha Westside

Boys

Our schedule begins with an intriguing early-season matchup. Millard West enters the 2017-18 campaign on the heels of a 15-11 season that saw them fall in the district final. However, two of the Wildcats top three scorers have graduated. Senior forward Colby Gomes, a Nebraska baseball commit, will be called upon to fill the void. As a junior, the 6’6” Gomes averaged 11.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Westside hopes to erase memories of a 6-11 season last year. The Warriors are just three years removed from a runner-up finish at the state tournament. The offense should get a boost from sophomore transfer Patrick Ngambi. As a freshman, Ngambi ran the point for Omaha Northwest in 22 games. Westside will look to junior forward Chase Thompson, who led the Warriors in scoring a year ago, to turn things around under first-year head coach Jim Simons.

Joining the Westside backcourt this year is a freshman whose name will be familiar to fans of Creighton and the University of Rhode Island. Point guard Preston Murphy, Jr is the first incoming freshman in Nebraska to hold a D1 offer after he received one from Buffalo over the summer. Murphy is, of course, the son of former URI great and current Creighton assistant Preston Murphy.

Girls

Last year, our crew was on site for a thrilling 42-40 win by Omaha Westside. Millard West will be tough, coming off a 17-8 season and returning three starters. Senior Lauren Rongisch led the Wildcats in scoring last season over 12 games, but is recovering from an ACL injury. Junior Chaise Pfanstiel will direct the offense, having averaged 9 points and 3 assists last year. The Wildcats begin the season ranked fifth.

Omaha Westside’s Quinn Weidemann has been a staple on our broadcasts for the last three seasons. We’ll have one more chance to watch before she heads off to play college ball at Wyoming. Weidemann averaged more than 18 points a year ago on a Westside team that finished 22-4 but somehow missed the state tournament. Junior Ryley Nolin and sophomore Ella Wedergren will provide support as both started in 2016. Westside comes in fourth in the initial Class A rankings.

December 14: Omaha Burke at Omaha South

Boys

Fans should be circling this one as a potential state tournament preview. Both teams are loaded with talent once again. Omaha Burke will be led by senior guard Shereef Mitchell. Mitchell is a tremendous on-ball defender with scoring ability. His 22.1 points per game a year ago led the Bulldogs and garnered him two Division I scholarship offers. Mitchell has decided to reclassify to 2019, but should be a major factor in the Metro before he heads off to prep school.

South returns guards Jay Saunders and Tavion Anderson and forward Tahj Glover, all key contributors on last year’s state tournament team. Benson transfer Anthony Ignowski should provide more depth and scoring in the backcourt. The question mark for the Packers will be in the post. The departure of all-stater Aguek Arop will leave a big void for South to fill.

Girls

Omaha Burke returns a wealth of experience for first-year head coach Randall Howard. Five seniors, Ali Haith, Justice Alioth, Rylee Reggio, Christy Murphy, and Ashley Hickman all started games last season. Sophomore Emma Rosonke, a 6’0” guard, also averaged 7.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game as a freshman. Burke could be one of the most improved teams in 2017 after an 8-15 campaign a year ago.

Omaha South is another tremendously experienced team, led by senior Alyssa Marsh-Contreras. Marsh-Contreras has been a starter since her freshman season and will provide plenty of offensive spark for first-year head coach Brittany Gunn. Gunn previously coached Omaha Central and will have three other starters returning this season.

January 9: Millard North at Bellevue West

Boys

Our first broadcast of 2018 will feature two of the state’s top 10 players. Millard North’s Nick Ferrarini could become the school’s all-time leading scorer by the time he leaves the building. As a junior, Ferrarini shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc. Point guard Jake Rueschoff and forward Bret Porter also started on last year’s team that went 13-10.

For Bellevue West, it’s Cedric Johnson’s time to shine. The senior averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds last year, garnering interest from the University of Nebraska Omaha, as well as Division II schools Northwest Missouri State, Missouri Western, and Chaminade. The Thunderbirds have a wealth of size around Johnson, with Deng Jal (6’8”), John Shanklin (6’7”), Jake Hazuka (6’5”) and Tevin Tanner (6’5”). Junior Nico Felici and highly-regarded freshman Chucky Hepburn will be others to watch.

Girls

It’s bombs away for our first girls’ game of 2018. Both should be able to light up the scoreboard from distance. For Millard North, junior guard Lauren West nailed 68 three-pointers last year, setting a school record. Her supporting cast includes Jayna Green, Lexi Kraft, and Nicole Avila-Ambrosia, all returning starters. David Diehl’s Mustangs lose only two seniors from last year’s team that finished 14-10.

Bellevue West broke a string of qualifying for four straight state tournaments last season, falling in the district final to Lincoln Pius X. The bad news is that three-year starter Mia Felici (15ppg) is gone. The good news is that her sister, Akili, is back from a knee injury. The younger Felici is committed to UNO. Laura Jurek returns for her senior season and should be one of the most dominant posts in the metro.

January 26: Papillion-La Vista South at Omaha North

Boys

Teams will have a tall task scoring inside against Papillion-La Vista South’s twin towers Tuach Dol and Lok Wur, both standing 6’8”. The pair combined for more than 17 points and 11 rebounds per game last season, with a combined 56 blocks on the defensive end.

Omaha North returns leading scorer Tyrell Caroll (14.3 points, 3.0 assists per game), but must find a way to replace last year’s core of senior leaders Jordan Nash, Anthony Laravie, and DJ Kitt. Head coach Jared Anderson will be looking to build on last year’s 16-9 record and get over the hump following a seven-point loss in the district final.

Girls

Papillion-La Vista South head coach Andy Gerlecz will have three returning starters on the roster for his seventh campaign with the Titans. Juniors Taylor Beacom and Maddie Allen both averaged 11 or more points per game last year when Papio South finished 16-8. Allen will miss time in the early part of the season with a knee injury, but could be back when the Titans visit Omaha North.

Dariauna Lewis was a force last season for the Vikings, averaging nearly a double-double per game. Now a senior, Lewis, along with returning starters Anijah Daigre-Anderson, DaNya Horne, and Ebone Stingley have sights set on the state tournament. Omaha North was the second-highest scoring team in Class A last year and has plenty of pieces back in Michaela Dailey’s second season at the helm. The Vikings come in at number 10 in the initial rankings.