Wichita Collegiate matched up with Kapaun Mount Carmel physically. The Spartans have shooters and size, just like the defending Class 5A champion Crusaders.
But they don’t have anyone quite like Braden Hullings, which is why Kapaun was able to finish a 60-50 victory over Collegiate in the Bluestem Classic semifinals Friday night.
Hullings, a slightly built 6-footer, led both teams with 21 points. Ten of those points came at the free-throw line.
“Just another game, really,” Hullings said.
Except for the fact that the teams met during the finals of last year’s Bluestem Classic, there wasn’t much of a storyline. And there wasn’t much drama. Kapaun went on a 9-0 run in the first quarter and never trailed after that. Every time the Spartans would start to rally, Kapaun had an answer.
“Yeah, they’ve got an answer,” Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel said. “His name’s Hullings.”
Fiegel told Hullings after the game he loved watching him play – except for the one night a year he plays against Collegiate – and later told reporters the same thing.
“He’s just a different type of dude,” Fiegel said of Hullings. “He’s got great quickness, he can jump over you, he can elevate, he’s a basket maker … when you have somebody written out on a scouting report, sometimes it’s ‘driver.’ Sometimes it’s ‘shooter.’ But the special guys get ‘player.’ He’s a player. And I thought basically tonight, he was the difference.”
Fiegel is still grieving the loss of starting point guard Markus Phox, who broke his foot last week and is lost for the season, but said it’s time for the new-look Spartans to seize opportunities.
“This team you saw here tonight is a team that has only been together for seven days,” Fiegel said. “All of our roles, everything about our team’s changed. … We were able to compete. I thought defensively, we were pretty good. We just missed some easy buckets right around the hoop.”
Hullings said the main key was to “remain calm, and work the ball.” Like Hullings, Kapaun coach John Cherne wasn’t especially worked up over the victory.
“It’s nice than Braden showed up and hit some really tough shots,” Cherne said. “We made some poor choices … our shot selection wasn’t the best. But if we were playing our best at this point in the season, I’d be real worried come February and March.”
Damien Akao scored 10 points for Kapaun. Riley Kemmer and Taj Holt scored 18 and 13, respectively, for Collegiate.
Gardner-Edgerton 62, El Dorado 46 – After starting the season 7-0, El Dorado has now lost two of its last three.
How bad was the Wildcats’ defensive rebounding against the 6A Trailblazers?
“It was bad,” El Dorado coach Gary Melcher said. “Basically, they shot until they scored.”
Gardner-Edgerton went to the free-throw line 12 times, making 8. El Dorado went 27 times, making 19.
But the Trailblazer made 10 3-pointers, half of them by Kyle Huppe, who led both teams with 19 points. Trea Wrench added 10. El Dorado was led by Trevor Crain’s 12 points, while Travis House scored 10.
“They set the tone early,” Melcher said. “They just lined up and beat us.”
Trinity 62, Campus 55 – Ryan Miller scored 23 points and Matt Jones added 15 for Trinity. Austin Vaden scored 15 for Campus, which was playing without point guard Jordan Sparks, who was recovering from a concussion the night before.
Great Bend 43, Circle 32 – Great Bend led by six at halftime in a game that saw both teams combine for four 3-pointers. Stewart Dennison had 11 points to lead Circle; Brock Ibarra scored 10 for Great Bend.