Larned, KS (westernkansasnews.com) Coming into Thursday’s substate first round game Hugoton and Larned looked like a highly competitive matchup among programs that had similar turnarounds. Hugoton was 13-6, Larned was 14-6.
Larned was two years removed from a six win season, Hugoton had three wins two seasons ago. The Indians were playing on their home floor and had three players that averaged at least seven points a game, Hugoton had four players that average at least nine points a game. It was all suppose to add up for a great game, but someone forgot to tell the Eagles.
After a slow start Hugoton built a 10-5 lead slowly into a 40-28 score at the end of the third quarter and used a 14-2 run in the fourth to take solid command of the game and beat Larned 64-39. For the Eagles it was their 14th win of the year as they seek their first state appearance since 1951.
Hugoton played tight defense on the perimeter and forced a team that likes to shoot the 3 to settle for long shots. Larned went 0-8 on three attempts in the first half and 2-16 for the game (12.5%). The Eagle defense forced 25 turnovers while committing only 12. Derek Delgado had eight first half points for the Indians, but was held scoreless in the second half.
Hugoton was able to use two big three’s early in establishing momentum. The first from Manuel Mendez and the other one from Colby Korf. Parker Titus added 10 points and nine rebounds falling short of a double-double, Zack Leininger finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Kellen Watkins followed up with nine.
Hugoton Senior Kellen Watkins post-game
Hugoton Coach Craig Szymczak post-game
With the win, Hugoton sets up a third and decisive matchup with Holcomb. The Eagles lost on their home floor to the Longhorns 67-56 February 3 and 80-66 February 24. The game pit the top ranked team in 4A-II Holcomb whose only loss came on the road at Scott City against seventh ranked Hugoton who lost four of their six games this year came to the top two teams in the GWAC, Holcomb and Scott City.
Tip time is 7:30 Saturday night from Larned. Pre-game will be at 7:15 on Hits 106.7 and westernkansasnews.com.