Spinning Tales

KEARNEY — Rock n’ Roll bands, back in the day when I knew more about music than anything else, would put out new albums and tour every year. In their heyday, they would fill the venue they were playing in, give the fans what they want and then do it all again down the road somewhere in a day or two, maybe three.

I kinda got that feeling Friday night as I waited for the start of the Wolfpack’s district title game against Maywood-Hayes Center. The Wolfpack girls basketball team has played like a rock band rivaling the careers of many of my favorite bands of my youth. All season long they have been playing in gyms full of Wolfpack fans, their best songs being 32-minute sagas. Twenty out of 22 times, they have been chart toppers, basking in the glow of admiration. Their arenas being gym floors, their instruments being round balls, hoops and nylon nets.

Each band, as I remember, had a lead singer and a lead guitar player, each receiving equal billing. The Beatles had John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Wolfpack have had Ashlynne Charf and Keyera Eisenhauer sharing the spotlight most nights. John and Paul had George and Ringo, necessary parts for a great band. Charf and Eisenhauer have had Kate Furstenau, Elise Ruterbories and Brenna Martinsen filling out the band, joined by a number of ‘backup singers’ coming off the bench to keep things going.

This concert tour of winning basketball is nearing the end, its final dates to be played on the state’s largest shrines. The Devaney Sports Center, home of the greatest college volleyball team, will be where EPPJ performs next, on Thursday night in prime time, the first of what I expect to be three games in three days. Saturday’s final show will be at Pinnacle Bank Arena where, if what I believe comes true, our ‘band’ will take a bow to their fans while holding up the grandest of hardware from the NSAA.

What they have offered up so far is akin to a platinum-selling album. Playing together, they’ve made beautiful music. Just as the Beatles had a manager for much of their career, our team has been ‘managed’ by Randy Eisenhauer and Trent Ostransky. They’ve shaped the band’s ‘song list,’ the offensive and defensive schemes to make sure that the end was better than the beginning. Our band has played the best music, starting in late November and now about to end in early March.

Each of us have favorite moments from this ‘album’ of victories. My favorites – Eisenhauer and Charf reaching career marks only the best ever attain; other band members stepping up to solo when the moment was necessary; and seeing some of those background singers carving out their own niche.

When it all comes together, its great music. So, get the best seats in the house, sit back and enjoy some great music before the tour ends.


I said this essay would be about two teams and it is.

One day earlier the Wolfpack boys team saw their basketball season come to an end, falling to the Chargers Thursday night, played on Riverside’s home court.

EPPJ was beset with injuries and illness for the latter part of the season and just didn’t have enough time to gel once all the pieces were back in place. 

This marks the second year in a row when postseason aspirations were not fulfilled. 

This was supposed to have been year-three of a three-year run of state tournament appearances. Two years ago, EPPJ broke a long drought and made the state tournament where EPPJ fell to Burwell in the opening round. I didn’t take into account just how great a player Colton Wright was and just how tough it would be to replace him in the lineup.

With almost everyone back, I thought last year we would make it back but instead were upset in the subdistrict finals on our homecourt (St. Boniface Auditorium). Again, I made a mistake. I didn’t realize just how difficult bringing in a new coach would be on reshaping a team. No one is to blame, that’s just how sports are. New coaches rarely win it all in the first year, unless your name is Larry Coker and you coach the Miami Hurricanes football team in a year when all you had to do was stand on the sidelines and watch.

Then, this year, again reaching the subdistrict final, a double-digit lead slipped away in the second half as the Chargers rallied to win. Much to our dismay, Riverside ended up winning the district title to qualify for the state tournament. 

Winning isn’t easy. It’s especially difficult in the postseason when the other team wants it as much or more than you do and you have to beat that team playing on their homecourt. 

Three starters will return next season and the Pack will make another run for a trip to Lincoln. One thing is for certain, we’ll be there when it happens. Will you?