The Student News Site of Omaha South High School

The Tooter

The Student News Site of Omaha South High School

The Tooter

The Student News Site of Omaha South High School

The Tooter

South High basketball: the experience

Eve Hodoly, Sierra Thomas, and McKenzie James are ready to make their moves this season. (Hugo Hernandez Lara)

Business teacher and head basketball coach Ben Gilliland asked himself, “How can I hold myself to a standard?”

The Omaha South basketball team won its first ever state championship in 1937. The last time the South basketball team won a state championship was in 2019 when it defeated Omaha Central 58-56.

Last year was the first year for Gilliland to take over the role as head coach of the boys’ basketball team at South; before that, Gilliland was an assistant coach for the team.

Gilliland had a plan of going to play college ball and make a lot of money but had a career-ending injury and ended up going to help his old coach who had offered him a coaching job before he went to college which Gilliland declined.

“Last year was year one, and the players were used to the old coaches’ standards,” Gilliland added. To do a good job at coaching the team, Gilliland said he has looked up to some other coaches like Kyle Lindsted at Sunrise Cristian Academy and the University of Minnesota, as well as Rob Jeter at Southern Utah University.

Assistant coach Randall Crutcher, who played at the Division I level at Creighton University, started his first year coaching at South this year. Crutcher, who had retired from coaching, got an invite from Gilliland to help.

Lastly Gilliland said he hopes to help this team become better by making them do energy drills, offensive and defensive drills, and by pushing them in a positive way. Gilliland said he also understands that to enjoy the high points of the game you have to understand the low points, and that has helped him become a better coach by understanding that growth comes over time.

Keegan Kimble, a senior at South, first made the varsity roster his junior year but joined the basketball team his freshman year. Kimble doesn’t only focus on basketball; he said he is also striving to be a good role model to his little brothers Kenton and Kaleb who also play basketball.

Kimble said he is looking to come into the 2023-2024 season as a shooting guard or point guard. He also said he is looking to potentially get some offers from colleges to pursue his athletic career. Coming into this season Kimble is not only excited to potentially get offers but to also play his final year at South with longtime friend Lou Hodoly.

For this coach, discipline is key to having big moments in the game of basketball. Lead security and head coach for the women’s basketball team at South, Charles Northcutt wanted to step into a basketball coaching career to teach the basic fundamentals. The reason Northcutt wanted to teach the basic fundamentals of basketball is because he saw that other coaches weren’t teaching them. Northcutt got into coaching when he started coaching at an elementary school. After coaching elementary he wanted to coach older kids, so he went on to the sixth grade and then went to coach the Packers after that.

Northcutt attended Bellevue East High School where he participated in track. Northcutt later attended Wayne State with an athletic scholarship. A big lesson Northcutt learned while playing team sports is that you need to be a good teammate and help each other out in the hard times. “You have to love it,” Northcutt added.

Another part of the women’s basketball coaching staff is physical education and human growth and development teacher Taylor Pocock. Pocock grew up in Blair, and in high school she played basketball, volleyball, and ran track. Pocock started coaching when she got her job about four years ago, and she was a track assistant. The reason Pocock decided to coach is because she grew up surrounded by sports and had role models in her life who were coaches.

Pocock said her, player to watch this season is Eve Hodoly because,

“When confident, she can be an offensive and defensive threat.”

Playing sports has taught Pocock many lessons but one that stands out to her is the teammate aspect, she said. “You’re not going to win those close games without your team,” Pocock said. Pocock also wants to be a bigger presence for the girls and have a voice for the girls and other coaches.

Overall, both coaches want the best for the girls and are ready to take on the season together. Student athlete sophomores Sierra Thomas, Hodoly and McKenzie James are all returning starters from last year’s basketball team.

Thomas is currently the number one sophomore recruit in the state of Nebraska. “I use it as motivation, like I have something to prove,” Thomas added. Thomas got introduced to the sport by her dad at a very young age. From there Thomas joined Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams around Nebraska, most currently competing with Nebraska Hoops, but Thomas is keeping her options open by joining Nebraska Supreme later next year. With all of this Thomas has had to overcome challenges with confidence in herself, but she has learned to believe in herself.

Hodoly is hoping to enjoy this season with her teammates even if they win or lose a game. Hodoly said she has learned to stay disciplined and calm during important games. Hodoly comes from a very athletic family dating back to her mom playing sports at South High to her brother playing on the basketball team. Hodoly’s mom has helped her calm her nerves before games by texting her encouraging messages. “I have my mom to thank for the opportunities I’ve had,” Hodoly added. Hodoly also said she is looking to lead her team defensively this year. “I hope my defensive skills can help this team,” Hodoly added.

What James enjoys about playing basketball is the team aspect and that she gets to do what she loves with her best friends. James said she looks up to “her man” Ja Morant, a player on the Memphis Grizzlies, because of his style of play and the mindset he has going into important games.

“I’m doing this for my friends and family mainly because they’ve done so much for me, and I want to return the favor,” James responded when asked about what keeps her motivated during the season.

A memorable moment that all three of them remember is making it to a city championship for the first time in their middle school history. All three also said they are looking forward to playing crosstown rivals Omaha North this season along with Omaha Benson who they classify as their biggest test.

Overall, the returning members of the team hope to see success this year. Overall, these Packers are looking to finish the season with a winning record and more lessons learned.



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Hugo Hernandez Lara, Staff Writer
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    AundreaFeb 28, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    This was AWESOME!!!