Republic County High School drove to Solomon Tuesday night for its first round sub-state contest against the Gorillas, who are serving as host for the Class 2A sub-state tournament.
The Gorillas, however, will not be playing in the sub-state they are hosting after Tuesday’s first round as the Buffs drove away from Solomon with a 60-43 victory.
The Republic County High School boys’ basketball spends its regular season competing in the North Central Activities Association, which is filled with Class 3A teams with the Republic County being the lone exception. The Gorillas, meanwhile, compete in the Wheat State League, which is filled with mostly Class 1A teams.
“You play who is in your league and definitely it helped us,” Republic County head coach Kevin Kuhlman said of playing in the Class 3A NCAA. “You get on beat on every night in that league, but we are where we want to be, it is sub-state time and you want to win and move on.”
Tuesday’s game was a back-and-forth affair through the first three quarters with the Buffs controlling a lead most of the contest, but the Gorillas remained within striking distance until the final period when the Buffs used a 9-0 run midway through the period after Solomon had trimmed the lead to 4, 42-38, with 6:27 remaining.
Trevor Allen highlighted the run for Republic County with 7 of his game-high 30 points during the stretch.
“Trevor Allen, he is a good player,” Kuhlman said. “The ball has to go through him, he is a good player. But I thought we got contributions from everybody. It was a good team effort.”
The first quarter was a back and forth battle that saw two ties and two lead changes. The Buffs grabbed early control with a 6-0 run on back-to-back conventional 3-point plays to build an 11-7 advantage, but Solomon trimmed that lead to just 1 when Colton Shirack buried a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded sending the game into the second quarter.
Republic County extended its lead to 21-11 when it opened the second quarter with a 10-1 run and closed the first half scoring 7 of the final 10 second quarter points to take a 28-16 lead into the locker room at intermission.
The two teams exchanged 7-0 runs to open the second half and the Gorillas closed the third quarter outscoring Republic County 9-3, cutting the Buff lead to 40-34 heading into the final period.
“We are capable of playing,” Kuhlman said. “This is the way we are capable of playing, it was just a matter of believing in ourselves and getting it done.”
The loss ends Solomon’s season with a 12-9 record. The Gorillas were led in scoring in the contest by Jordan Rangel, who finished with 12 points.
Republic County advances to Friday night’s semifinal contest against Rural Vista.
The Buffs were led in scoring by Allen’s 30 points and he was the lone Republic County player to score in double figures.
“We had some young kids that got to playing for us until our seniors got to going,” Kuhlman said. “On the road, I thought our focus was good.”