Then: In March 1976, the Bob Devaney Sports Center opened, just in time to host the first of many state high school basketball games. Named for the Cornhuskers' iconic football coach who led the Huskers to back-to-back national championships in 1970 and 1971, the center served as the home court for Nebraska's basketball teams.
In replacing the old NU Coliseum complex, the Devaney Center was widely regarded as the state's finest venues for sports events. In addition to basketball, the complex also hosted several other NU sports programs, including gymnastics, swimming, wrestling and track and field teams. With the completion of a new sports complex this year, the arena no longer will be used for basketball. The final state high school championship games were played there last weekend.
Now: Players from several area high school teams saw action in the first games played at Devaney in 1976. Hastings High School was eliminated in the first round of Class A by Lincoln Northeast; Nelson bested Hildreth in the Class D title game; and Geneva edged Walthill to capture the Class C crown.
Steve Adkisson, middle school principal at Fillmore Central, and his brother Ken, a high school art teacher at Waverly High School, were members of Geneva's championship team. It was a pair of Steve's free throws that put the game on ice for the Wildcats with just seconds remaining.
"It was a nail-biter," he said. "That was pre-3-point-shot, and we won 75-72. That was a lot of points."