LINCOLN - It is the first trip to Lincoln in Hartington- Newcastle history since the two schools merged ve years ago.
The Wildcats enter as the 7 seed, facing 2 seed Humphrey/ Lindsay Holy Family.
HNS will depend on the tenacious defense that was on display to upset Kenesaw in the District Finals, winning 36-32.
Like Hartington-Newcastle, Humphrey/LHF utilizes a lot of youth in its rotation. The Bulldogs have four seniors to the HNS three, and each team starts a freshman.
HLHF boasts a 6’3” freshman point guard, Jason Sjuts, who leads the team with 279 points, averaging 11.6 points per game. Sjuts is followed closely by Turner Beller, who scored 278 points, averaging 10.7 points per game.
Jason is one of three Sjuts on the team. Tyler Sjuts is a 6’4” junior, and Jacob Sjuts is a 6’3” freshman. Both have just over 200 points on the season.
The Bulldogs had a chance at earning the top seed in Class D1, but a Subdistrict Final loss to Archbishop Bergan, 56-54, dropped the team to the 2 seed following a District Final win.
Statistically, the two teams are rather similar, with the Bulldogs taking a slight edge in each category.
Individually though, an HNS player leads a Humphrey/LHF player in all but one category.
Jason Sjuts averages 11.6 points per game, and Shaye Morten leads the Wildcats with 11.2 points per game.
Both teams also show a fair amount of size on the roster. The Bulldogs have eight players over six feet tall, and the Wildcats have seven players over six feet tall.
HNS has the advantage in height, with Sam Harms at 6’7” manning the center position.
Hartington-Newcastle also has an advantage in the turnover department, creating steals for transition looks.
The two teams face off at Lincoln East on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the Class D1 state tournament. The winner will face the winner of Paxton and Wauneta-Palisade on Friday morning at 10:45 p.m. in the Bob Devaney Sports Center.