Trego boys hold on to beat Ellis, set up Hoxie rematch

Trego County defeated Ellis 56-50 in an MCL Tournament semifinal game in Ellis, Friday, January...
Trego County defeated Ellis 56-50 in an MCL Tournament semifinal game in Ellis, Friday, January 22, 2021. (Photo: Everett Royer, J Royer)
Published: Jan. 23, 2021 at 1:29 AM CST
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ELLIS, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - WaKeeney-Trego’s Kobi Shubert is the team’s most experienced senior. Shubert and Trevyne Brown were the only freshmen listed on varsity in ’17-18. Shubert logged 39 varsity contests the last two winters. More than any current Golden Eagle, Shubert has seen the program’s growth under coach Sean Dreiling.

On Friday, WaKeeney-Trego took another step with a 56-50 victory against host Ellis in the Mid-Continent League tournament semifinals. The Golden Eagles scored the game’s first nine points and opened a 19-3 lead. Ellis eventually came all the way back and took a 38-35 advantage with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left in the third quarter.

Ellis led 50-49 with 2:41 remaining before the Golden Eagles, keyed by big plays from different players, scored the game’s final seven points.

“We battled back from adversity,” Dreiling said.

Trego County defeated Ellis 56-50 in an MCL Tournament semifinal game in Ellis, Friday, January...
Trego County defeated Ellis 56-50 in an MCL Tournament semifinal game in Ellis, Friday, January 22, 2021. (Photo: Everett Royer, J Royer)

WaKeeney posted 5-15, 7-13 and 13-10 marks the last three winters. Last season marked the first winning record for the program since ’08-09. Friday’s win vaulted the Golden Eagles to 9-2. In the locker room postgame, Dreiling looked at Shubert, a multi-year starter.

“I said man, ‘We’ve been in part of games like this where when we were lower level team, and we’d play a good team really tough and tight and play really well, and then in the fourth quarter, we’d lose it,’” Dreiling said. “And now we kind of believe that we are that good team.”

WaKeeney has not won the MCL midseason tournament since ’09, the only time since ’84. The Golden Eagles will play Hoxie, 9-0 and ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, for the second time this year on Saturday for the championship.  They could match up four times this winter.

This marks Hoxie’s first season as a full MCL member. On Dec. 12, Trego limited Hoxie’s standout senior center Harlan Obioha for 15 points and 11 rebounds in a 61-50 loss in the Purple and Gold tournament title game. Obioha averages more than 24 points a contest. The teams will also play Feb. 9 and possibly in the WaKeeney sub-state.

“We will have some different stuff to throw at him,” Dreiling said. “But at the end of the day, we have got to be who we are. We can’t be a fake and try to junk it up and do crazy stuff.”

Dreiling, in his fifth season, called Friday’s win among the top victories in his tenure. Last winter, the Golden Eagles beat Plainville when the Cardinals were top-10 and a top-5 Ellis squad.

On Friday, WaKeeney dropped Ellis to 8-2 and into Saturday’s third-place contest against Thomas More Prep-Marian.

“They came out and pretty much punched us in the mouth, and it took us a quarter to wake up,” Ellis coach Mark Eck said. “We still gave ourselves a chance to win, but at the end of the day, the last minute, multiple mistakes. Not only by some of the kids, but me as a coach.”

Junior Charlie Russell paced WaKeeney with 17 points. Shubert, junior Cole Feldt and sophomore Owen Day all tallied nine. For Ellis, senior Brady Frickey finished with 21. Russell and Frickey are each returning top-10 all-league players.

“If we don’t get ourselves in a 19-3 hole, it’s probably maybe a little different outcome for us,” Eck said. “But you look back, and you can’t really make excuses, and they deserve a lot of credit, because they are a darn good team.”

Dreiling first met Frickey in seventh grade. Dreiling told people in town that Frickey had the potential to score 35 in the game.

“He’s that good,” Dreiling said. “And Cole Feldt did a great job on him in the first half, and he still had 12.”

The Golden Eagles battled back and took a 49-48 lead with three minutes left. Wakeeney inbounded from under its own basket. Shubert passed to Russell on the sideline. Then, Shubert took a small step over the inbounds line. Russell passed back to Shubert, who was not heavily guarded. Shubert kicked out to Day, who sunk the wide-open trey.

“That wasn’t the play,” Dreiling said. “The play was to hit Charlie on the wing, and then our point guard is going to set a down screen for Kobi at the block, and Kobi is going to curl off that. So he was going to get the ball back then, but Charlie – he’s so smart. He’s so smart and so skilled. He sees the double team come to him in the corner, so he just drops it right back in.”

Ellis converted a basket before Shubert drove down the right side and scored for a 51-50 lead with 1:25 left. The performance continued fine play from Shubert. Last week, Shubert earned the team’s award handed out after every game.

“I told everybody, ‘He’s playing like a determined senior,’” Dreiling said. “…He looked like a determined senior on that drive. You could see it.”

The Railers missed a 3, and Russell made two free throws with 19.1 seconds remaining.

“Big shots from Owen Day and Charlie Russell,” Dreiling said.

Eck blamed himself for the final minute, especially the next possession. Eck had two timeouts and didn’t use either.

“Sometimes when you have got Frickey, that when you don’t let that defense get set up, he can hit pretty quick,” Eck said.

Ellis called a play, but Eck said one of the Railers didn’t hear it. Feldt picked Ellis junior Tyson Jimenez for a steal just past half court.

“As soon as I’d seen that, I should have called a timeout,” Eck said. “And Tyson was pretty upset with himself for allowing that to happen. … I will take the blame for that, because he was kind of left to hang out to dry there.”

That which eventually led to a technical foul, and WaKeeney free throws that sealed the win.

“What a steal by Cole Feldt,” Dreiling said. “Having the courage to reach in like that and knock the ball away, and then go steal it, great, great plays by four different guys.”

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