March has arrived, and that means it’s basketball tournament season. That includes the Nebraska girls state basketball tournament, which tips off on Tuesday.
This year’s tournament includes an expanded five-day schedule and it’s loaded with talented players, including a few who will be wearing Scarlet and Cream next season.
Here’s your viewing guide for this year’s state tournament.
Nebraska signee Alexis Markowski is the most dominant player in Nebraska, and she has led Lincoln Pius X to the No. 1 seed in Class A with a perfect 22-0 record. The Thunderbolts are looking to repeat as Class A champions after a 26-1 2019–20 season that saw them handle Lincoln East in the championship.
Markowski, a 6-foot-3 post, is averaging 23.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting 61% from the field and 75% from the free-throw line. The daughter of former Husker Andy Markowski has recorded 13 double-doubles this year including a 42-point, 22-rebound effort in the HAC championship game early in the season. In Pius’ win over Grand Island on Feb. 19, Markowski passed former Husker Maddie Simon to become the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Pius will start it’s tournament run against No. 8 Millard North on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
On the other end of the class spectrum, a future Husker also leads the No. 1 seed in the Class D2 field as 5-foot-10 guard Allison Weidner has guided the Humphrey St. Francis Flyers to a 22-0 record. St. Francis fell in the D2 title game against Wynot last season but will be looking to finish the job this season.
Weidner is the state’s leading scorer at 25.2 points per game while shooting 58% from the field, 38% from 3 and 72% from the foul line. She stuffed the stat sheet as well, adding 6.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 6.5 steals per game. She’s topped 30 five times this season including a school record 43 points in St. Francis’ third game of the season and she’s scored over 2,200 points in her career.
St. Francis will begin it’s tournament at Lincoln North Star on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The D2 semifinals and championship will be at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
A third Nebraska signee qualified for the tournament with her team, although she won’t be playing basketball in college and she isn’t guaranteed to play this week. Omaha Skutt senior Lindsay Krause, the No. 2 volleyball recruit in the nation, injured her knee in a club volleyball tournament at the beginning of the month and missed the SkyHawks’ last seven games. Skutt went 19-4 this season and earned the No. 4 seed in Class B, but three of those losses came without Krause to three state tournament qualifiers.
Volleyball is her future, but Krause is a dominant presence on the basketball court as well at 6-foot-4 as she averaged 13.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in the 15 games she’s played.
Krause is a game-time decision for Skutt’s first-round game against No. 5 York on Tuesday at 11:15 a.m. at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Alexis Markowski isn’t the only Husker legacy in this year’s field. Her younger sister Adison, a sophomore, is Pius’ third-leading scorer at 7.8 points per game and she’s first on the team with 28 made 3-pointers.
Brianna Stai, the daughter of former Nebraska football player Brenden Stai, is a key player for Norris, the No. 1 seed in Class B (20-2). She’s averaging 10.0 points and 4.4 rebounds and has signed to play basketball at Division II Central Missouri.
Mya Sohl, the daughter of another former Nebraska football player in Damon Benning, is playing a key role off the bench for eighth-seeded Millard North as a sophomore, averaging 4.1 points.
Freshman Kennadi Williams, the daughter of women’s basketball coach Amy Williams, helped Lincoln Southwest earn the No. 4 seed in Class A with a 19-2 record. She’s second on the team in scoring at 8.9 points per game and first in steals at 2.6 per game while shooting 49% from the field, 45% from 3 and 70% from the free-throw line.
There are plenty of other talented players without Nebraska ties as well.
Fremont junior Taylor McCabe is arguably the best shooter in the state and is committed to Iowa. She’s averaging 24.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.7 steals per game while shooting 43% from deep on over 200 attempts for the third-seeded Tigers (21-3). Her younger sister Peyton McCabe is also a double-digit scorer for Skutt as a freshman.
Elkhorn North freshman Britt Prince has led the Wolves to the state tournament in the school’s first year of existence. Elkhorn North is the No. 2 seed in Class B with an 18-2 record and Prince is the biggest reason for that as she’s averaged 23.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.9 steals. She holds offers from Nebraska, Creighton, South Dakota State, Louisville, Iowa State, Omaha, Iowa and North Carolina with the Bluejays and Huskers offering before she had played one minute of high school basketball.
Prince isn’t the only star in that 2024 class as Omaha Central point guard Inia Jones has already picked up a Division I offer as well. Omaha offered back in July. Jones is averaging 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals for the Eagles.
Omaha signee Grace Cave (Weeping Water), Omaha Central junior Aaniya Webb (Indiana State offer) and the Millard South sophomore trio of Mya Babbitt, Cora Olsen and Khloe Lemon (all three averaging better than 14.0 points) are a few other players to know.
The NFHS Network (requires a subscription) will stream the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds while NET will televise the championships. You can find the all-class championship brackets with game times and locations here. All the actions begins on Tuesday at 9 a.m., and all six champions will be crowned on Saturday.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.