Lakin, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–After the pairings were released for the Lakin Sub-State February 24, it was obvious how wide open the tournament would be. Fast forward to Thursday, where both semi-finals were tightly contested, with the winners advancing by a combined 14 points. Saturday’s championship game between Scott City and Sterling certainly did not disappoint. It took eight ties and eight lead changes, as the Beavers found a way to hold off the last second Black Bear charge, advancing them to their sixth straight state tournament 59-57 in a energetic Lakin Middle School Gymnasium. The game would see no team lead by more than seven points.
It was evident early on how the pace would be. Sterling started out red hot shooting in the first eight minutes, hitting eight of their first 11 shots. The Black Bears scored seven consecutive after the Scott City hit their opening shot. They would lead by as many as seven at 15-8 with 2:11 remaining in the opening period. Bo Hess scored all 13 points for the Beavers, as they trailed 17-13 after the first quarter.
In the second eight minutes, Sterling (17-6) would lead the entire period, and looked in control until Scott City scored the last four points of the half to cut the deficit to 27-25.
The Beavers tied the game at 27 early in the third period, and that fueled a third quarter rally. After the Black Bears led 35-33 with 3:21 remaining in the third stanza, a 11-2 Scott City run ended the third period, capped off by a three pointer by Dylan Hutchins to give them their largest lead at 44-37 heading into the final eight minutes.
When it looked like the Beavers were going to take control, Sterling got right back into the game. The Black Bears scored the first eight points of the fourth period to take a 45-44 lead with 5:04 remaining. After that, both teams would traded the lead three times. Hutchins hit a three with 2:32 remaining that gave Scott City (18-5) the lead 52-49. They would not trail the rest of the way. After Sterling pulled to within a point, the Beavers were patient on the offensive end, when Justin Faurot drilled a left corner three to push the score to 55-51 with 1:26 remaining.
Scott City hit four of their final five free throws, as they saw a lead of six dwindle to two with two seconds remaining at 59-57. Hutchins was fouled, and went to the free throw line with 1.1 seconds left. He would miss the free throw, and Sterling thought it was the double bonus, and didn’t move. Hutchins grabbed the rebound and time ran out, sending the Beavers to Hutchinson Wednesday.
Scott City was led by Bo Hess with 25 points, while Dylan Hutchins had 11, all in the second half, and Justin Faurot added 10. Sterling got 19 points from Kyler Comley, 18 from Kenan Comley and 14 by Lucas Briar off the bench.
With the win, Scott City is in their school-record sixth straight state tournament. It is also their 19th appearance all-time. In the 20 years as head coach of Scott City, Glenn O’Neil has taken the Beavers to state 12 times, including this year.
Scott City will take on Sabetha at 6:30 Wednesday night at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. The Bluejays are 22-1, and defeated rival Nemaha Valley 47-44 in overtime. This is a two-seed against a seven-seed matchup. Sabetha finished third in 2015, and will be making their second straight state trip. Also, the two other returning state qualifiers from 2015 will match up in the first round at 3 pm Wednesday, as top-seeded Osage City faces Wellsville. Wellsville defeated Osage City in the opening round in 2015 59-51, and Wellsville finished fourth, losing to Scott City 65-59 in the semi-final round last year. Other first round matchups included the 4:45 game on Wednesday, featuring Norton taking on Southeast of Saline, and at 8:15, Fredonia facing Garden Plain.
Coach Glenn O’Neil Postgame