Improved schedule for Crofton girls? Mission accomplished

The Crofton bench celebrates during the Dec. 20 win over Sioux Falls Washington at the Sanford Pentagon.
The Crofton bench celebrates during the Dec. 20 win over Sioux Falls Washington at the Sanford Pentagon.

BY JEREMY HOECK
jeremy.hoeck@yankton.net

In retrospect, Aaron Losing put together a pretty nasty schedule.

The head coach for the Crofton (Nebraska) girls’ basketball program was very open a year ago that he wanted an even tougher 2014-15 schedule for his Lady Warriors, who looked like they could be even better than the 1-loss squad that won a state title.

And so, that’s exactly what Losing did. But what he did a little differently was look outside the Nebraska borders for quality competition – partly, as he said, because he couldn’t lock in games against Class A or B schools in the Cornhusker state.

He secured a game at the Sanford Pentagon Classic in Sioux Falls (where Crofton later found out it would play Sioux Falls Washington). He then got Crofton back in the Hanson Classic in Mitchell, where the Lady Warriors again faced St. Thomas More.

Losing didn’t stop there, however. He locked in a game at West Central, located in Hartford, S.D., and also secured a road game at Woodbury Central, Iowa, a perennially solid program. The rest of Crofton’s schedule, of course, was against Nebraska competition.

The dust has officially settled, which means we can evaluate Losing’s efforts.

First, Crofton beating Sioux Falls Washington 56-44 back in December was a monumental accomplishment for the small school in northeast Nebraska. Yes, Washington had a new-look team after winning a Class AA state championship the season before, but it was still a Sioux Falls team – and as Washington coach Jamie Parish said to me at the time, he reminded his girls that Crofton’s entire high school population would fit in one of Washington’s bigger classrooms.

Over its next five games after the Washington win, Crofton continued its domination of Nebraska teams, winning by 56, 40, 70, 44 and 73 points before a trip to West Central. Make no mistake, West Central was a very good Class A team in South Dakota this season. And yet, Crofton came away from Hartford with a 43-point victory, and no doubt opened a few more eyes in this state.

Two days later, the Lady Warriors were in Mitchell for a Hanson Classic matchup with St. Thomas More, in a rematch of a Crofton win the previous season. St. Thomas More, though, actually led Crofton at halftime this year, but the Lady Warriors rallied for a 64-53 victory.

Three days later, Crofton handled Woodbury Central (Iowa) rather easily as well, claiming a 73-40 win. And six days after that, Crofton took care of Pierce, a defending Nebraska state champion, by 13 points.

But the damage had been done. Crofton had taken care of business against four quality opponents from two different states. Losing’s efforts had paid off.

And as we found out Saturday night, those were some pretty impressive South Dakota wins for Crofton.

Sioux Falls Washington won the Class AA state championship with a narrow win over Sioux Falls O’Gorman, while St. Thomas More had no trouble beating Elk Point-Jefferson for the Class A crown.

If only Crofton could’ve played Ethan. Then it would’ve swept the three South Dakota state champions.

As it stands, Crofton won all 29 games on its schedule and captured a fourth consecutive Nebraska Class C2 state championship, all the while extending its winning streak to 53 games.

Although Crofton graduates a senior class that went 105-5 during their careers, it wouldn’t surprise me if Losing again tries to secure games with South Dakota and Iowa teams. And it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if the folks at the Sanford Pentagon again make a call down to Crofton to invite its girls’ basketball team to play at the Pentagon Classic.

That would be a win for both sides.

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