The girls’ state championship between No. 1 Olpe and No. 2 Hoxie was highly anticipated. Both were undefeated coming into the title game but only one could leave that way. Although the Lady Eagles came in as the No. 1 team in the state they found themselves playing catch up. They never overcame an early deficit however and Hoxie earns back-to-back state crowns 68-63.
It seemed like Olpe bit off more than they could chew early. They just couldn’t make their shots. Hoxie on the other hand had three threes in the first quarter alone. Two back to back sucked the momentum from the Lady Eagles. Senior guard Danel Stithem made two of those three and the other was from Gabriel Spresser. The Lady Indians led 18-4 at the end of the first.
Spresser opened the second quarter with another three bomb to take control. But this was the state championship and you can never count a team out. The Lady Indians were ahead at halftime as well 31-25.
Hoxie blazed ahead in the third but the Lady Eagles started battling back. A three by Olpe’s double-threat Elena Flott brought them back within three points. Hoxie’s Carly Heim drained two threes in the fourth quarter. The Lady Indians had 12 threes on the game and Olpe could not keep up. Hoxie won back-to-back state titles 68-63. Hoxie head coach Shelly Hoyt said she thought her kids did a great job of setting the tone right away.
“We’re going to run and that was our game, pressure offense and pressure defense,” she said. “They either had to follow us or get left behind. They are a great team and they followed us but it took them a little bit. They gave it everything they had. I was really proud of our kids, you know, it takes a lot of character to go back to back.”
Danel Stithem said to earn this win as a senior makes it that much more rewarding.
“Two years in a row now and coming off great leaders last year I wanted to fill their shoes and I felt like I did that. It just feels great and I am still shaking with excitement. I can’t and probably won’t stop smiling all night.”
St. John-Hudson booms from the beginning
The St. John-Hudson boys wanted this title and they came prepared. The Tigers controlled the tempo from the beginning and finished off South Haven 70-50. Tiger junior Kade Kinnamon dropped in a beautiful three before the buzzer putting St. John-Hudson ahead eight points at the end of the first. South Haven’s Austin Showman showed off his skills throughout the night. He was the Cardinals leading scorer with 21 points.
The second half was all Tigers. Junior Zuriel Reyes stepped it up and sank a three-pointer late in the second half to seal the deal. He had 20 points on the night. St. John-Hudson takes home the title 70-50. Tiger head coach Clint Kinnamon said their zone defense was the key to their success.
“I thought we defended extremely well out of our zone,” he said. “Austin Showman is a tremendous player and we needed to do whatever we could to try and slow him down and the zone was the most effective way.”
Reyes and his teammates came in to the game with the hopes of winning for their seniors. He said the ability to share this experience with his closest friends is like nothing else.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Coach said it was going to be one of the best memories that we will ever have and he was right. He darn sure was right. It’s one of the memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”