MAIZE SOUTH—When the Maize South and Valley Center boys basketball teams faced off this year, each game was decided by only one point.
On Jan. 29, Valley Center edged the Mavericks on its home court. Maize South collected revenge Friday, beating the Hornets 47-46 and prompting Maverick students to storm the court in celebration.
Friday’s contest was the last regular-season game for both teams. The Class 5A sub-state tournament starts next week. The Maize South boys have never hosted a sub-state game and never earned eight wins in a season. They are now 8-12 overall.
The Mavericks led 29-23 at halftime Friday, but Valley Center’s 8-2 run to open the third quarter left the score tied 31-31. Maize South had pushed its lead back out to five, 44-39, with 2:46 remaining in the game. However, Valley Center junior Jacob Brittain picked up a bucket that left the Hornets trailing 44-41 at the 2:24 mark.
Maize South ran down the clock until Valley Center fouled, and Maverick freshman Payten Ricks sank one of two free throws with 1:21 left. However, Brittain drained a three-pointer and then the Hornets called timeout with 1:02 on the clock. Maize South led 45-44.
Following the break, each team committed a foul but the score was unchanged. It finally budged when a Valley Center shot missed but officials called goaltending on Maize South. As a result, the Hornets claimed a 46-45 advantage with 34 seconds remaining.
Maize South fouled Valley Center three times, but Hornet junior Zach Brown attempted the team’s only free throw in that series and missed. When the Mavericks regained possession, they used a timeout with 10 seconds left.
Maize South junior Brett Barney launched a long inbounds pass to Ricks, who handed the ball off to sophomore Kade Kordonowy. He was fouled and stepped to the free throw line with seven seconds on the clock and his team trailing by one.
Kordonowy calmly hit both free throws and Maize South claimed a 47-46 lead. Valley Center senior Braden Tormey struggled but managed to get the ball across the timeline. The Hornets used the last timeout of the night with 2.9 seconds on the clock.
When play resumed, Brittain threw the inbounds pass, but Barney intercepted it. That meant Maize South officially had its revenge.
Schultz said the Mavericks’ strategy at the end was to play man-to-man defense up top and use zone on the bottom to plug up the lane.
“It kind of confused them because I think they thought we’d play man,” he continued.
Schultz said the strategy was important but he admitted that luck also played a role. He said the boys had practiced that late-game situation.
“We play a couple zones like that,” he remarked.
Schultz described the previous 53-52 loss to the Hornets as his squad’s “low point in the season.” He pointed out that Maize South lost five of six games after the trip to Valley Center, one player departed the team and Barney, a 6-9 starter, missed some games due to injury.
Barney scored a game-high 19 points Friday while Kordonowy followed with 10. Schultz said Maize South was tested this season and he was challenged to re-invent his leadership.
“We really feel like we can get a win Thursday if we play well (at sub-state),” he added, “and championship game, who knows?”
Valley Center, now 7-13 overall, has not generated seven victories since the 2007-08 season. Hornet coach John Wetig is completing his second year as head coach.
“John’s got them playing exceptionally well,” said Schultz.