Emporia, KS (westerkansasnews.com) Last year the Hugoton girls basketball team were the ones to surge in getting their first ever state championship. This year the hope is it will be the guys turn to do the same.
Friday night’s 4A-II state basketball semifinals at William White Auditorium in Emporia produced mix results for Hugoton fans, the boys clawed their way back to beat Rock Creek 50-44, while the Lady Eagles (22-2) lost for only the second time this year in falling short to Clay Center during a rematch of last year’s semis won by Hugoton 55-36, this time they lost 53-42.
Boys Game Highlights
The Hugoton boys came back from a nine point deficit in the first half, ended on a short 5-0 run and then took the lead early in the second half outscoring last year’s state runner-up 10-4 and pulled away late on a series of free throws to beat Rock Creek (21-3) 50-44.
Two striking differences occurred in the game. During the first half, Rock Creek hit 9-15 from the free throw line, Hugoton took only two free throws. In the second half, it was a different story as Hugoton took 15 trips to the line converting 12 free throws while Rock Creek attempted just five free throws making three of them.
The other significant moment was losing all-state player Carson Becker to an unusual injury after a traveling violation late in the first half. He never returned and his absence was felt by the Mustangs. The departure of Becker left one less matchup problem for the Eagles (23-1) and meant Bailey Vetter had to pickup the load in the second half.
Hugoton went about a four minute stretch in the first half without any points, but the good news is they did not allow any either and by half the Eagles had to feel pretty good trailing only 22-17. It seemed like familiar territory to them seeing only one week earlier they came back from 14 down to beat defending champion Holcomb for the third time in winning the sub-state championship by eight, 59-51.
Colby Korf piled on the points late hitting all six of his free throws in the final minutes and connecting on two threes. Hugoton improved on 7-23 shooting in the first half for 30 percent to hit half of the shots after halftime at 10-20. Zack Leininger a night after his 17 point, 12 rebound performance against Anderson County had 11 points and 3 rebounds.
Parker Titus struggled from the field going 1-7, but he made up for it by hitting 5-6 free throws and ripping away six rebounds. Tony Kinser controlled the low post for Hugoton finishing with five of the team’s six block shots.
Before he left, Carson Becker led the Mustangs with 10 points and Bailey Vetter scored nine on 4-11 shooting. Unlike Hugoton whose shooting was much better in the second half, Rock Creek shot 33 percent prior to halftime and dropped to 31 percent in the second half.
Hugoton Coach CJ Kolf Post-game Comments
Saturday night the Eagles eye their first state championship in boys basketball when they take on Wichita Collegiate (21-3), a team that surprised previously undefeated Girard by the same score 50-44.
Now on to the girls game where one year can make a difference. During last year’s semifinal Katy Heger went 11-16 from the field for 29 points and the Eagles took the game right to Clay Center 55-36.
This year’s semifinal the big three of Dallie Hoskinson, Katy Heger and Amy Scott all were plagued with foul trouble and by the end Scott was the only one who kept in the game as Clay Center put a measure of revenge on Hugoton winning 53-42.
Clay Center during three different stretches of the first half opened up a 12 point lead. Hugoton fought their way back winning both the second quarter 11-8 and third quarter 13-8 and by the beginning of the fourth quarter were down by just two points.
The Lady Tigers stopped Heger and by doing that limited Hugoton’s offense. Heger went 1-10 from the field and only had a three pointer on the night in 21 minutes before fouling out. Junior Allie Wright kept right on Heger and took the Hugoton star out of her comfort zone.
Wright added two three’s in six attempts from outside for Clay Center and the passing carved up Hugoton’s defense before they could get set in dishing out 15 assists to Hugoton’s 5. Many of the passes came way out high on the wings and knifed through the lane to the low post. Kathleyn Bohnenblust had 8 assists and seven rebounds. Even though she was held scoreless her contribution made a difference for Clay Center.
Hugoton was led by Amy Scott’s 14 points and Brooklyn Harper played solid minutes to notch 13. Sophomore guard Dallie Hoskinson had 8 points and six rebounds, but tried to pickup for Heger and that put more pressure on her. Hoskinson finished 4-12 from the field.
Despite falling short of having the chance to defend last year’s state title, Hugoton can still make this a historic year. If they can beat second seeded Girard in Saturday’s third place game, the Lady Eagles will surpass last year’s win total which set the school record at 22-2. Saturday this year’s Eagle squad will have the same mark entering in and with a win will set the mark for most wins at 23.
Saturday’s third place game for the Hugoton girls begins at 12, the boys championship starts at 6:15. Both games can be heard on Hits 106 and westernkansasnews.com.