By CONOR NICHOLL
HAYS – Hanover freshman Tianna Lohse struggled with her 3-point shot. She missed 12 straight treys entering the game’s final seconds.
Still, Lohse delivered a game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left wing that propelled Hanover a 50-47 victory against Olpe in the Class 1A, Division I state championship Saturday night from Fort Hays State University.
“I was so nervous from not making very many in the game as it was going on, I was just hoping and praying that it would go in,” Lohse said.
Following an Olpe turnover, sophomore Macy Doebele, the team’s leading scorer, went the length of the court and drew the defense inside the 3-point arc because she kicked to a wide-open Lohse.
“By driving into the lane, it would open up the shooters,” Doebele said. “And I saw her, she is one of our best shooters on the team, so being able to kick it to her, I knew once it went up that it was going in.”
Lohse, who finished 1 of 7 from the field for four points, helped Hanover capture the first girls’ basketball title in school annals.
“Awesome, just unbelievable,” Tianna said. “We knew we could do it and we did it.”
Lohse is the daughter of longtime Hanover boys’ coach Kim Lohse, whose Wildcats took the floor for the boys’ contest after the girls’ championship.
Lohse was mobbed by her teammates and coaches after the shot. Following some on-court photos, Kim Lohse motioned to his daughter, who went over and gave him a hug.
“A good shooter will shoot her way out of any kind of slump,” coach Lohse said. “…I am really proud of her, she did a great job. She works extremely hard.”
No. 5 Hanover finished 24-2, while No. 3 Olpe went 24-2. The Eagles, under Kansas’ all-time winningest coach Jesse Nelson, were the Class 2A runner-up last season and reached another state final. No. 1 seed Centralia (24-2) defeated South Central (23-3) for third, 55-45.
Nelson said he would take “part of the blame” for the defense on the final play. Nelson thought his players “looked a little confused.” Yet in retrospect, Nelson believed Olpe wouldn’t have changed much.
“I am not real sure we would have matched up with that kid either,” Nelson said. We would have made sure that we were matched up with everybody, but I am not sure she would have got special attention. To their credit, I think we were going to take away dribble-drive penetration and take away the lane. She makes a kick out. The girl gets one chance in the game, and hits it, and much to her credit.”
Lohse, the lone Hanover freshman who sees consistent playing time, went 1 of 8 and 0 of 6 for two points in the 58-57 semifinal victory against Centralia.
Before the final shot, she was 0 of 6 from the field (all from 3-point range) and 1 of 2 from the foul line. Doebele led Hanover with 14 points in a game marked by 41 fouls, 23 from Olpe.
A couple of times after a Lohse miss, Hanover coach Chris Beikmann displayed a follow-through motion to his freshman.
“She set her feet well and all game she was struggling,” Beikmann said. “She came off I think it was in the third quarter, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ I told her, ‘Just forget about it?’
“Forget about the first half, go back to the basics, finish your follow through, set your feet and the rest will take care of itself, and I think hats off goes to her,” he added. “She never doubted herself for a second there. When she caught it, she knew she had to go up with it, and she did. The rest is history.”
Hanover boys 60, South Gray 36
Hanover was never challenged en route to its third straight dominating state tournament victory. It marked the sixth title for Lohse. Hanover won every game by at least 20 points. Seniors Michael Jueneman and Will Bruna contributed 26 and 12 points, respectively.
Hanover led 16-9 after the first quarter and 31-17 at half. The Rebels shot just 28 percent from the field. No. 2 Hanover went 24-2, while top-ranked South Gray also finished 24-2.
“Michael and Will have been our go-to guys all year long,” Lohse said. “Our leading scorers. Handle the ball well, shoot free throws well. I am going to miss those two a ton next year. All our seniors are going to be sorely missed.”
No. 5 Burlingame (23-3) defeated No. 3 St. Francis (22-4) in double overtime, 59-56, to take third place. Junior Zach Herrick hit a buzzer-beating trey from the right side of the arc.