Three HOPL basketball teams are headed to state. The Norwich girls and Central Christian boys might have been expected to get there. The Burrton boys shocked some teams in their bracket.
The Lady Eagles are headed to state. The girls rode a No. 1 seed through the first round with a bye. In Friday’s semifinal, they downed Attica 45-28. Norwich beat No. 3 seed South Barber 46-34 on Saturday to stay alive. The Eagles outscored Chieftains in each of the first three quarters of that final game to establish a 33-21 lead heading into the final quarter. Bailey Poe led the way with 13 points. Kenzie Klaver and Jordyn Stephens each added 10 points. The Lady Eagles (22-1) are the No. 2 seed at FHSU and will face No. 7 Dighton (16-7) on Wednesday.
The boys came up short 59-44 in their sub-state opener against Stafford on Thursday. The Eagles trailed only 11-8 after one quarter but fell behind 47-28 over the next two quarters. Freshman Jacob Norris finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Junior Garret Wise added 10 points. The Eagles, who finish the year at 2-18, will be without only senior Brandon DePriest next year.
The No. 2-ranked Cougar boys will get a crack at a state title. The boys were barely threatened in two games at Sylvan Grove. Friday, the squad downed Otis-Bison 72-44. Saturday, the Cougars punched their ticket to Fort Hays State University with a 74-61 win against Sylvan-Lucas. In Friday’s win, Central led Otis-Bison 39-27 by halftime. Ben Krehbiel hit five threes and led the Cougars with 23 points. Kyle Patrick added 16 points and Jared Starkey 12 points in the win. Central Christian (19-3) enters the Div. II state tournament as the No. 2 seed against No. 7 Axtell (16-8) on Thursday.
The Lady Cougars bowed out early with a 59-20 first-round loss to Sylvan-Lucas, ending a disappointing 3-17 year. Central Christian did not score in the first quarter and trailed 35-5 at the half. Sarah Hagan scored 11 points.
The Charger boys are headed back to state. Last year the squad finished fourth after an improbable run. The squad had to do it again just to get to state this year. The No. 5 seed Chargers opened with a 57-48 upset against Goessel. Then Burrton downed No. 1 seed Pretty Prairie 50-48 on Friday. Saturday, the squad knocked off No. 3 seed Fairfield – a team that had won two of the three previous meetings this season – 60-48. Trae Lane scored the game winner on Friday with four seconds to play. He finished with a game-high 20 points. Caleb Hurst added 12 points. Burrton (10-13) will again have its work cut out at state, this year entering as the No. 8 seed against top-ranked St. John (22-1) on Thursday.
The Lady Chargers fell to Goessel 47-23 on Wednesday to put an end to a 3-18 season.
The Lady T-Birds picked up a tough win at the Sterling sub-state but fizzled out in the semifinals against fifth-ranked Central Plains. Skyline had to wait until Thursday to down Ellinwood 51-44. The girls led the Eagles by as much as 34-24 early in the third quarter and 49-38 late in the fourth quarter. Kaitlyn Stark hurt Ellinwood with 23 points and nine rebounds. Alyssa Swonger added 12 points. On Friday, the girls fell to Central Plains 56-24 to end the year at 14-8.
The Skyline boys entered the sub-state with just two wins and left in short order with a 71-15 loss to Little River on Wednesday. The Redskins led 44-6 by halftime. Only three T-Birds scored in the loss. Dustin Weber scored seven of the points and Blake Lee added six points. Skyline ends the year at 2-19.
The Bulldogs need to find a way around Burrton. Last year, Pretty Prairie fell to Burrton in the sub-state semifinals. Friday, the squads were locked in a 48-48 tie before Burrton took advantage of a blocked shot and scored the game winner with four seconds to play. Keifer George scored 13 points in the loss. Stetson Broce added 11 points despite playing with foul trouble, and Trey Tallant scored 10 points. The Bulldogs end the year at 12-9.
The Lady Bulldogs had a first-round bye before falling to No. 2 seed Centre 44-33 in Thursday’s semifinal. Pretty Prairie led 9-8 after one quarter but trailed 24-16 by halftime. Centre outscored the Bulldogs 20-17 in the second half. Selena Wapelhorst scored 13 points in the season-finale, and Kristin Haflich added 10 points. Pretty Prairie finishes its season at 13-8.
Both Falcon basketball teams reached the championship game of the Burrton sub-state on Saturday. Neither team would advance. The Lady Falcons entered the post-season as the No. 10 team in Div. I. After a bye, they snuck by No. 4 seed Goessel 48-44. Saturday, No. 2 seed Centre downed the girls 60-37. Fairfield ends the year at 17-5.
The Falcon boys reached the finals to face No. 5 seed Burrton. Fairfield had already beat the Chargers twice this year. This time, Burrton prevailed 60-48 to advance to state. Friday, the Falcons upset No. 2 seed Centre 60-50 to reach the finals. The squad closed the first quarter of that game on a 14-2 run to take a 16-9 lead. They outscored Centre 33-27 in the second half. John Dealy had a big game with 23 points. Eric Schoenecker added three treys for 11 points, and Brennyn Pankratz also scored 11 points. Fairfield closes the season at 11-11.