HASTINGS, ST. CECILIA - The boys basketball team of St. Cecilia High School in Hastings won its third consecutive state championship March 13. Pictured are (back, from left) coaches Mike Allsman, Scott Wissing, Joe Ryan, Paul Goedert, Ryan Sheehy, Zach Sterup, Jordan Consbruck, Beau Schwenka, Dalton Sealy, coach Brandon Vacek, head coach Kevin Asher, (middle) Tim Skoch, Kevin Ryan, Michael Hannon, Spencer Zysset, Simon Ostrander, Matt Kissinger, Phillip Hamburger, student managers Dayton Sealy, Brooks Asher, (front) student managers Zach Kitten, Seth Kirkegaard, Alex Teanor,Trey Asher, Grant Farmer. (Photo courtesy Callam Sports Photography)
HASTINGS (SNR) - The Hastings St. Cecilia High School boys basketball team is celebrating a monumental achievement: their third straight Class C-1 State Championship.
Only eight other teams in the history of Nebraska state basketball have done the same. St. Cecilia is the first Class C-1 team to earn a “three-peat,” making it a truly historic accomplishment for the boys and their coaches.
The victory came with a 46-40 win against top-ranked Chadron High School. It started out as a nail-biter, with both teams taking the lead by turns, a testament of the skill and dedication that brought them to the state champion tournament.
According to Bluehawks Coach Kevin Asher, there’s no great secret to winning three state championships in a row. It’s a matter of taking a group of good athletes, encouraging them to play as a team and fostering a good work ethic.
“They’re very smart, bright, coachable kids who are unselfish,” he said. “They’re not worried about individualism. They live for competing and being together in a tight-knit group.”
“We’ve played basketball together since third or fourth grade,” said senior forward Paul Goedert. “We’re like a big family together.”
The school also has a weight-training program, which Coach Asher believes contributes to their athletic accomplishments. Indeed, last fall, the Bluehawks won the state championship in football as well.
“Weights were huge [last] summer,” reported senior point guard (and quarterback for the football team) Beau Schwenka. “Everybody was up there every day, lifting.”
Basketball practice at St. Cecilia is extremely competitive by design.
“Every day we went to practice with the same mentality: work hard and get better,” said Dalton Sealey, senior guard. “The state championship is the result of that.”
Of course, it’s not just the starters who put in the time and effort. At St. Cecilia, the guys who are slated for the bench know that by playing their best at practice, they are helping the starters sharpen their game. They’re also preparing themselves to step in during a game to give the starters their much needed
“Those kids did a great job coming in,” Coach Asher said. “They made a great contribution . . . and definitely they’ll be back, driving the torch next year.”
Next year, the team has only one starter returning, junior center Zach Sterup. At the state championship game, he was battling a virus that had had him hospitalized the day before. However, with a team like the Bluehawks, it’s never just about one guy.
“We’re not individuals. We played as a team all season,” Paul said.
“Everybody had each other’s back all year,” Beau added.
Each of the seniors noted that winning that third state championship was a special kind of victory.
Paul said that the two previous state championships were great, but it does make a difference to be a starter and a senior. “You feel more a part of it.”
“Knowing that you’re that much closer to graduating and you’re never going to play that high school sport again, it’s really ending on a high note,” added Dalton.
“There’s no other way to end a season,” Beau stated. “It was just a great feeling, knowing that all the hard work and everything you did was paying off.”