HARTINGTON — Cedar County is a hotbed for basketball.
At least, that is what can be inferred from the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Huskerland Prep Report preseason basketball ratings
All five of the county’s high schools have at least one team rated in the state.
Cedar Catholic, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, Hartington-Newcastle, and Wynot and Randolph all made it into the preseason Top 10 ratings for their respective classes.
Both the boys and girls teams at Cedar Catholic and Wynot are rated in the Top 10.
Both Cedar and LCC will compete in Class C2 for boys and girls basketball. The LCC boys are rated sixth by Huskerland-Prep Report, eighth by OWH, and 10th by LJS. The Cedar boys are rated third in the State by Huskerland Prep Report.
The LCC girls are not rated, but Cedar is. The Lady Trojans are rated fifth by LJS, and eighth by OWH. Big Red started the season on Thursday against rated opponent Crofton, who is listed at seventh by LJS, fifth by OWH, and sixth in the Huskerland poll.
In Class D1, the Hartington-Newcastle girls start their season rated by all three newspapers. HNS is rated fifth by Lincoln and Huskerland, and sixth by the Omaha paper.
In Class D2, the Wynot girls and boys start the season rated. For the boys, the Lincoln JournalStar rated the Blue Devils at eighth and the team did not make the top 10 in Omaha’s preseason ratings. For the girls, Omaha has them at seventh, and Lincoln has them at eighth.
These early ratings show the quality basketball that is expected by the State to come out of Cedar County, just by looking at last year’s performances and players that will be back on teams this year. Just from looking at the quality of teams, one Subdistrict that looks to be immensely difficult for teams to survive through on the way to State would be C2-7. It features two-time defending state champion Ponca, a team that lost four starters but is still rated by Omaha and Lincoln near the top of the C2 standings. It also features LCC, Cedar Catholic, and Croton. LCC is rated from the preseason, and Cedar Catholic is a contender just outside of the top 10 according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Subdistrict C2-7 also features a returning All-State player that caused a lot of trouble for teams last year. LCC’s Noah Schutte is a 6’4” junior this year, and comes off a season where he averaged 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. In his first game of the season, the junior put up 27 points and grabbed 17 rebounds against Siouxland Christian. He followed that the next night against Crofton with 28 points and 15 rebounds.
Preseason ratings have a lot to do with expectations of a team before that team ever plays a game.
It deals with returning starters, last year’s records, and what the schedule looks like this year. There can often be teams valued too highly heading into a season, and there is almost always a handful of dark horse teams that emerge as the season progresses. While these ratings may not hold a lot of weight come time for conference play in January, it can help set an expectation level for a team, its fans, and for early season opponents.
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