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CURRENT ARTICLE
05/26/2018 - From The Press Box: Eventful Year Concludes, Remembering The Voice of Waverly

From The Press Box

Whirlwind is a great way to describe the final week of the 2017-18 school year and high school sports season in Nebraska.

There have been highs and lows, smiles and tears of joy, even sorrow.

Through it all, we've seen one of the more exciting years of prep athletics with lots of expectation lying ahead in 2018-19.

Lincoln East wrestling, Lincoln Southwest girls swimming and diving, Lincoln Southwest girls track, Lincoln High boys track, Malcolm cross country, Southwest boys tennis, and East girls tennis all had great runs to state championships.

Football featured Lincoln High, Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln Pius X, Waverly, Lincoln Christian, Lincoln Lutheran and Parkview Christian all making the playoffs.  It was Lutheran, though, that made it the farthest, falling to eventual C2 runner-up Centennial 33-20 in the semifinals.

In basketball, Lincoln Pius X forced triple overtime before eventual Class A boys champion Omaha Creighton Prep held on for a 83-80 victory in the state quarterfinals.  In the game that followed, Lincoln East fell 50-48 to Omaha Bryan on a buzzer-beater. 

Lincoln Christian made it to semifinal Friday, but came up short of advancing to the championship.  The Crusaders, though, finished with the 3rd place trophy.

On the girls side, Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln East each fell in the semifinals in the Class A tournament.  The Silver Hawks were trying to defend th  Their state title.  Lincoln Christian was in the same position, but also fell short in the Class C1 semifinals.  Like the boys, the Crusader girls finish with the third place trophy.


Baseball saw Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln Southeast, Norris and the co-op of Wahoo/Bishop Neumann/Lincoln Lutheran reach state.  Norris was the only team to reach the championship, losing on a walk-off, two-run base hit from Logan McGill to give Omaha Roncalli a 5-4 win and their first Class B state baseball title since 1981.

Lincoln High's state track and field championship marked the end of a 58-year drought in the sport. 

For head coach Bob White, it's the pinnacle after making a miraculous comeback following a December 2007 crash, where he lost his left leg.  What may be impossible for some isn't for White, who endured surgeries and rehab to get back into being impactful on the lives of student athletes at Lincoln High.

It was a long time coming and the effort paid off for White and his athletes.

As we draw the school year to a close, congratulations to all the athletes and coaches on their accomplishments.  To the seniors, thank you for your efforts in what may seem like four-short years.  They do fly by.

Rotellas Italian Bakery    

WAVERLY'S VOICE HAS BEEN SILENCED

Four months after the sudden loss of Creighton Prep's beloved former PA voice Barry Silverstein, comes sad news closer to home involving a long time voice in Waverly athletics.

If you ever attended a Viking football, boys or girls basketball game, you likely heard the excitement John Tucker expressed any time there was a big gain, touchdown, fumble recovery, interception, a three-point basket or three-point play.

Tucker, a 1966 Lincoln High graduate who served in the Marines, owned and operated the TrueValue Hardware store in Waverly since 1975, died on May 20 of what appears to be natural causes.  He was 70-years-old.

Many of you may remember Tucker for his 35-year involvement of Small Fry Basketball in Lincoln, coaching numerous teams and players that would go on to play at the high school and, in some cases, the college level.

His son, Ben, played for him and later starred at Waverly before transferring to Lincoln Northeast in the summer of 1991.

I knew of John and Ben Tucker when I was a youngster playing Small Fry for the Moose Lodge #175.  My cousin, Adam Stephenson, was a good friend of Ben's and played on those Small Fry teams for First National Bank, later FirsTier Bank, that won league championships.

Personally, I formally met Ben when I joined the Northeast basketball team as a freshman in 1992-93.  Ben was a senior and would take me to and from ballgames we played in town.  It was then where I got to know a little more about their family and love for basketball.

You could tell that John was proud of Ben's and, for that matter, daughter Jessie's accomplishments in athletics.  Back in August 2010, I swung by the TrueValue store in Waverly to see John and try to sell a sponsorship package for this website.

While my pitch wasn't enough to have John commit and be a sponsor, it didn't matter to me.  The conversation we had in his office that afternoon on basketball, family and life was worth the stop. 

On a wall next to his desk was a framed picture of Ben cutting down the net in the old Ed Johnson Gym at Northeast after the final home game of the 1993 season. 

Yours truly, in uniform with a sling on my right arm after breaking it in practice earlier that week, is in the background as Ben cut the final piece of netting.  The current Ed Johnson Gym, by the way, opened in the fall of '93.

There were other pictures of teams he coached at the Small Fry or select level.  Civic awards for his commitment to the Waverly community also adorned John's office space.

Beneath all of that, you had a man who had great passion for his family, friends and community.  I'm surprised he didn't step up to be mayor of Waverly, which I believe he could have won in a landslide.

When I head to Waverly this fall to cover some football games, it won't be the same.

I won't get the big, firm handshake I always got from John and catch up on the latest happenings each time I was there for a broadcast. 

Tom Rine, who has been John's back up guy in the booth for years, brings a lot of enthusiasm to the PA microphone and will carry the torch.  Tom is just as passionate in his announcing, like John was on the mic for 43 years.

To John's wife, Jan, along with Ben and Jessie, the grandchildren and extended family members, my sincere condolences at this tragic time. 

John Tucker was a man who proudly served his country as a Marine.  He took great pride in what he did as a businessman, coach, announcer and family man.

He's a shining example of how all of us should live life to the fullest.

Image may contain: 1 person, basketball court
John Tucker (Courtesy Photo)

Jeff Motz is a columnist, announcer and webmaster for LincolnPrepSports.com.  He also is the sports director, play-by-play announcer and midday news anchor for KFOR 103.3FM/1240AM in Lincoln.

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffMotzKFOR

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