Journey to the Pinnacle


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“Be more” is the 2016-2017 Girls Basketball team’s motto. “Be more than a team. Be more than a teammate. Be a family,” states Sophomore Jolie Rinaker when asked what it means. The mighty Rockets Varsity team is made up of two seniors, Nigeria Jones and Jordyn Casados, one junior, eight sophomores, and one freshman. The 19-2 Rockets are most definitely a young team.

Girls Varsity Basketball coach Steve Bartek lives and breathes basketball. Coach Bartek was on the basketball team while attending college at Doane. In 1984, Bartek was the all-time leading scorer in the state of Nebraska. He finished in the NAIA top 20 scoring and rebounding in 1982, 1983 and 1984. On top of all of his great achievements, he was then drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA in 1984 through 1985. Coach Steve Bartek took over the Girls Basketball program in 2010 to start a legacy.

A normal Rocket basketball practice starts off with practicing 15 foot jump shots. Then shortly after the team works on layups. They then run through plays and usually end with more shooting drills. Senior Nigeria Jones says that practice is full of energy, lots of talking and most importantly filled with laughter.

When asked, “What is one game you would take back or change?” The general consensus of the team said the Kearney game. The Rockets obtained their first loss to Kearney High 49-59 on January 7. Freshman Makenna Minter said that she would love to go back and play them and have the opportunity to beat them. The first loss showed that even though the team was on the rise and ranked top three in the state, there is always room for improvement. The loss sparked a now continuous fire within the team that has carried them to 8 consecutive wins.

The young team is led by Nigeria Jones, a four year letter winner, All City second team, All City first team, All Conference team, Super State second team nominee with Lincoln Journal Star top 5 player to watch. Jones teaches her teammates to always work hard even outside of practice. She also teaches them to stay humble and hungry and let your success be your noise. Jones has made the loudest noise by committing to D1 Alabama A&M University to continue her basketball career.

The girls strongly encourage anyone who is thinking about playing basketball to try out. Advice that Minter, Jones and Rinaker give to aspiring players is to not be scared and play how you always play, go hard in every practice and that time flies and lastly that being a part of a team is fun and especially this team and that you learn a lot and meet new people.

The biggest accomplishment the team has achieved is being ranked number one in the state of Nebraska in Class A. The Rockets came out on top in the Heartland Athletic Conference, with a Conference title and a perfect 7-0 record in conference play. Heading into districts, Tuesday, February 21 Northeast will play number 4 team Omaha Central at Northeast High School, then will go on to play the winner of the Papillion-La Vista, Millard North game. Jolie Rinaker says that the team goal going into District and State games is that and everyone is playing their best basketball they have all year in one game. Nigeria Jones’s goal is to hopefully win the State Championship. In order to do so she says, they need to be focused and to not overlook any team. Go Rockets!

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