Published Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:48 am
Ratings: Nebraska prep girls basketball, Dec. 4
The Top 10
1. Bellevue West
The Thunderbirds deserve the preseason No. 1 spot after finishing as the Class A runners-up last year. Six seniors graduated from that squad, but top scorers Kate Liveringhouse (14.5 ppg) and Madi Braun (13.0) are back. Another key returnee is Chloe Akin-Otiko, who made an impact last season as a freshman.

2. Millard West
The Wildcats always seem to be in the mix, and this season will be no different. Only one starter graduated from last year’s state tourney team, and high-scoring guards Samantha Waldron (15.9 ppg), Marisa Lowe (9.8) and Brooke Savage (8.3) return. The emergence of a solid inside presence will be a big key.

3. Fremont
The Tigers reap the benefit of two big transfers — All-Nebraska forward Jess Shepard (24.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and guard Rylie Cascio-Jensen (7.5 ppg). Mix in the return of Claire Meyer (9.0 ppg), Kendall Niehaus (7.5) Katie Sorensen (5.5) and Gess Gdowski (2.7), and the Tigers will be tough to tame.

4. Omaha Benson
The Bunnies return everyone from last year’s squad that went to state for the first time since 1997. Leading the way is junior forward Kianna Ibis, an All-Nebraska player who averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds last season. They must show mental toughness to prove Benson belongs among the state’s elite.

5. Lincoln Northeast
Class A coaches are in general agreement that five schools appear to have a slight edge entering the season, and the Rockets round out that quintet. Creighton volleyball recruit Toni Tupper leads the way (11.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), but guard Tantashea Giger (9.2 ppg) and forward Morgan Ewing (8.4 ppg) also can fill it up.

6. Grand Island Northwest
The Vikings return almost everyone from last year’s Class B championship squad, including All-Nebraska guard McKenzie Brown (19.8 ppg). Northwest also has the motivation of a disappointing finish in volleyball, finishing third in Class B after being ranked the overall No. 1 most of the season.

7. Lincoln Southwest
All-Nebraska guard Lauren Works has graduated, but the Silver Hawks still have some firepower in returning starters McKenna Dodd and Creighton volleyball recruit Marysa Wilkinson. A disappointing finish to last season that saw Southwest miss state after losing by a point in the district final is added motivation.

8. Lincoln Pius X
The Thunderbolts are back in their Class B comfort zone after narrowly missing the Class A state tourney last year. It all starts with Nebraska recruit Maddie Simon, a 6-1 junior guard who averaged almost 16 points last season. Definitely a team to watch.

9. Bellevue East
This might be an ambitious ranking for the Chieftains, who move on without several key components from last year’s state tournament squad. The return of senior starters Peyton Hagen (10.7 ppg), Amaun Frazier (9.4) and Haley Ourada (4.0) should help new coach Blake Anderson.

10. Omaha Central
The Eagles have some new pieces in place, including first-year coach Danielle Brandt. The top three scorers from last year’s state tourney squad have graduated, so Central will count on others to step up and fill those roles. Guards Abigail Niebrugge (7.2 ppg) and Megan Gamble (6.0) will bolster the offense.


Lincoln Southeast: Sure, the Knights saw Shepard move to Fremont and graduated guard Alexa Kastanek from last year’s Class A championship squad. Still, Kara Graham is a good coach and will get the most out of her squad as it tries to defend its title.

Minden: The Whippets appear to be the preseason best in Class C-1 thanks in large part to the three Kissinger sisters — Division I recruits Brooke and Jamie and freshman Taylor. Minden will be out to make amends after losing to eventual state champ Pierce in the first round at state last year.

Norris: The Titans lost a double-overtime heartbreaker in last year’s Class B final to Grand Island Northwest. Four seniors graduated from that squad, but Norris can rebuild around the athletic sister duo of Kasey and Kylie Hohlen.

Nebraska preseason high school girls basketball ratings by World-Herald staff writer Mike Patterson, as published in The World-Herald Dec. 4.

* * *

TOP 10, 2012-13 record, 2012-13 final rating

1. Bellevue West, 27-2, 2
2. Millard West, 23-6, 4
3. Fremont, 8-16, NR
4. Omaha Benson, 16-8, 7
5. Lincoln Northeast, 17-7, NR
6. Grand Island Northwest, 25-3, 9
7. Lincoln Southwest, 20-5, 8
8. Lincoln Pius X, 15-7, NR
9. Bellevue East, 19-6, 6
10. Omaha Central, 21-6, 3


1. Bellevue West, 27-2, 2
2. Millard West, 23-6, 4
3. Fremont, 8-16, NR
4. Omaha Benson, 16-8, 7
5. Lincoln Northeast, 17-7, 9
6. Lincoln Southwest, 20-5, 8
7. Bellevue East, 19-6, 6
8. Omaha Central, 21-6, 3
9. Papillion-La Vista, 10-14, NR
10. Millard North, 20-6, 5


1. Grand Island Northwest, 25-3, 1
2. Lincoln Pius X, 15-7, NR
3. Norris, 19-7, 2
4. Gretna, 22-4, 5
5. Beatrice, 21-3, 3
6. York, 13-11, NR
7. Waverly, 18-6, 7
8. Elkhorn South, 15-9, 10
9. Holdrege, 18-7, 6
10. Omaha Gross, 18-7, 9


1. Minden, 19-5, 3
2. Pierce, 20-4, 1
3. Kearney Catholic, 26-3, 2
4. Chadron, 23-4, 5
5. Wahoo, 18-10, 4
6. Hershey, 22-5, NR
7. Fillmore Central, 24-3, 6
8. Norfolk Catholic, 15-10, 7
9. Ashland-Greenwood, 17-4, 9
10. Gothenburg, 15-11, NR


1. Crofton, 27-0, 1
2. Shelby-Rising City, 21-3, 7
3. Humphrey/LHF, 0-0, NR
4. Homer, 24-5, 4
5. Pender, 25-3, NR
6. Hastings SC, 23-5, 2
7. Ainsworth, 21-5, NR
8. West Point GACC, 24-4, NR
9. David City Aquinas, 20-5, 6
10. Kimball, 14-6, NR


1. O'Neill St. Mary's, 24-3, 2
2. North Platte St. Patrick's, 22-4, 5
3. Friend, 20-4, 6
4. Emerson-Hubbard, 19-7, 4
5. Howells-Dodge, 20-6, 5
6. BDS, 13-10, NR
7. CWC, 10-11, NR
8. Arapahoe, 22-6, 10
9. Sandhills/Thedford, 20-7, NR
10. Sutherland, 20-6, 8


1. Falls City Sacred Heart, 25-5, 4
2. Giltner, 19-7, 10
3. Sterling, 18-8, NR
4. Wynot, 25-4, 1
5. Ewing, 13-9, NR
6. Exeter-Milligan, 20-5, NR
7. Bertrand, 10-11, NR
8. Mead, 10-11, NR
9. Bancroft-Rosalie, 13-11, NR
10. Osmond, 19-3, 2

Contact the writer: Mike Patterson    |   402-444-1350    |  

Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer.

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