Elkhorn South's school colors are blue and gold, but there's a decided tint of Husker scarlet on the girls basketball team.
Nebraska fans will recognize the last names of sophomores Paige Piatkowski and Arianna Veland. Paige's father, Eric, was a standout basketball player at NU while Arianna's dad, Tony, a three-sport athlete at Omaha Benson, played football for the Huskers.
“Both girls come from great families,'' Storm coach Terry Graver said. “They've been nothing but supportive of our whole program.”
Arianna, a 5-foot-10 forward, has worked her way into the starting lineup after coming off the bench last season. She is averaging eight points and six rebounds per game.
Like her father, she competes in more than basketball. Veland played on the Storm soccer team as a freshman and is a potential Division I recruit in that sport.
“She's a very hard-working kid,'' Graver said. “She's gaining more and more confidence and you can just tell that she loves to compete, no matter which sport.”
Arianna said she's happy to carry on the athletic tradition of her dad, who averaged 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds his senior year (1991) at Benson.
“I feel like I'm following in my father's footsteps,” Arianna said. “I'd like to go on and play in college someday.”
Tony Veland, who played quarterback for the Bunnies, switched to defensive back for his final two years with the Huskers. He started 10 games as a junior in 1994 and earned All-Big Eight honors as a senior while helping NU capture back-to-back national titles.
Veland also won a Super Bowl ring in January 1998 as a member of the Denver Broncos.
Paige also has a father who has achieved much athletically.
Eric Piatkowski was named Mr. Basketball in South Dakota in 1989 while leading his Rapid City Stevens team to a state title. He went on to a stellar career at Nebraska, finishing second on the school's career points list with 1,934. The university later retired his No. 52 jersey.
The 6-7 Piatkowski played for four National Basketball Association teams during a career that spanned from 1994 to 2008. He finished with 5,919 points and 1,716 rebounds.
Paige, a 6-foot forward, said some of her classmates are aware of her father's place in sports history.
“Some know about it,'' she said. “But I think more teachers are aware of it. They sometimes tell me they remember watching my dad play.''
Paige, who averages 7.3 points and 7.1 rebounds, played on the club team her father coached when she was in grade school.
“He's taught me a lot about the game,'' she said. “And he's always showing me things to help me improve.''
Graver said Paige, who also sees action on the junior varsity, presents matchup problems for opposing teams.
“She can play inside or outside,'' he said. “She's got a lot of raw talent, and I know she's going to keep getting better.”
As expected, both sets of parents — Tony and Brooke Veland and Eric and Kristin Piatkowski — are regulars at Storm games. They've had a lot to cheer this season as Elkhorn South is 10-3 and ranked eighth in Class B.
“My dad is pretty quiet up in the stands,'' Arianna said. “It's my mom who's the loud one.''
That noise level in the Elkhorn South gym was ramped up several decibels last Friday night when the Storm posted a 54-52 triple-overtime win over then-No. 1 Norris. Senior guard Megan Kucks led the way with 16 points, followed by 14 from Arianna and 13 from Paige.
“That was really exciting,'' Paige said. “I'm going to remember that one a long time.”
Graver said Arianna and Paige, who are good friends off the court, are part of a Husker connection he hopes will continue at the school.
“There are a lot of former Nebraska players who live out here,” he said. “And I don't think the girls feel any added pressure because of who their dads are. They just go out and play.”