For years the Bob Devaney Sports Center has been synonymous with University of Nebraska basketball. While the facility lacked successful home teams in many of those years it is still the house of many memories. For players, coaches and fans of the Cornhuskers the facility has been home sweet home. For high schools across the state it has been the goal at the beginning of the season.
Personally, I only saw one Nebraska basketball game inside the facility. I don’t know why I didn’t go to more. Most likely because I – like most fans – are turned off from attending when teams aren’t finding a lot of success. Unfortunately for me, that was a lot of the years I was able to go. I can’t tell you who the opponent was when I went – it was a men’s game – but I do know I took a girl to it and it was her first ever game. She was thrilled. And yes, we were clear at the top where the players made my old micro machines look legit. I’m cheap like that. It comes with the territory. I have never been to a Nebraska women’s basketball game. So the memories I have of basketball in the building come from somewhere else.
First of all, I did wrestle….errrrr….uhhh…was on a wrestling team in the facility when I was younger. Because I was terrible and, due to lack of success, would never consider myself a wrestler, we will not be discussing those haunting memories.
So, if I don’t have Husker basketball memories and wrestling memories are haunting….what’s left?
Let’s go back to March 3, 2006 in the Class B Girls state basketball semifinals where Beatrice upset powerhouse South Sioux City, who had won six consecutive titles and appeared in 11 straight title games. The Lady O stunned SSC, 70-52. Why is this a big memory for me? It was the first game I had sat on media row for Nebraska High School basketball championships. I joined my good friend Scott Rose on KUTT 99.5fm for the broadcast. While Beatrice went on to lose the title game to two-loss Gretna, it was a game I won’t forget. The crowd for South Sioux City was in shock and when I had to walk past them in the hallway after there wasn’t a dry eye around.
Since then I have seen a few games inside the building. After leaving the state for a year in 2008 and then not covering high school sports for a couple years upon returning to Nebraska I missed a few years with games inside the Bob.
However, the last couple years I have been fortunate enough to return to cover games courtside. I watched a Chadron girls team, who is one of the hardest-working group of girls I have ever been around, walk onto the court in awe before dropping a heart-breaker. I did a coaches show from the media area of the facility on a Saturday morning while championships were being played.
Then came 2013 – living just across the border in South Dakota – where Northeast Nebraska teams found their share of success. With Crofton and Wynot within our coverage area they both made it to the girls state tournament and both won state championships. Crofton won its second straight in Class C2, while Wynot was a 3-time winner in Class D2. For the boys tournament Crofton, Wynot and Hartington Cedar Catholic made the state tournament. Unfortunately, only one team made the championship, but it was a thriller.
After losing the semifinals game for two straight seasons the Wynot Blue Devils finally earned a trip to the championship game. It was the first time in school history they made it to the finals. After overcoming a couple of deficits the Wynot boys were 13 seconds from their first state championship when Spalding/Spalding Academy’s Kyle Bloom hit a three as time expired to send the game to overtime. At the end of the first overtime, it was the same scenario with Wynot up three and just 13 seconds remaining. This time it was Mike Glaser who hit the tying shot. Spalding/Spalding Academy hit another three pointer as time was winding down, but were down four and Wynot held on for the win. The Wynot boys and girls swept the Class D2 titles.
I’ll miss basketball at the Bob, but with every goodbye there is something new. Everyone has their memories, whether it was college, high school or something else. Cherish those memories and get ready for a new era.