Maize boys advance to first state championship game in program history
EMPORIA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - A basketball season unlike any other is ending unlike any other in program history for Maize (22-2), as the Eagles cruised to a 74-48 win over KC Washington (10-5) to advance to the Class 5A championship for the first time in program history.
Maize will face Topeka West in the Class 5A title game Saturday at 6 p.m. in Emporia at White Auditorium. Topeka West defeated De Soto 61-57 in the semifinals.
“It’s really special, I think we’ve had quite a few teams that were capable of making it this far and winning the whole thing but these guys have really come a long way,” Maize Head Coach Chris Gill said.
“We were a pretty bad basketball team in the first 11 games last season, so for us to respond and finish the season and not give up after last year...they’re realizing all the hard work they’ve put in is paying off.”
Maize established a lead early, hitting six threes in the first half, three of which came from senior Winston Bing. The Eagles led 30-19 at the break.
Maize would go on to outscore KC Washington 24-12 in the third quarter, leading by as many as 33 in the third period. With Kyle Grill running into foul trouble and being held to two points, the Eagles stepped up, with five players finishing in double figures.
“All season we’ve had different guys as our leading scorers, we have three guys that average 13 or 14 points a game,” Grill said. “We really work hard on just trying to get easy opportunities to score, sometimes that goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. We just try to focus on getting great team looks instead of individual looks.”
Senior Jacob Hanna led the Eagles with a game-high 17 points, while Bing added 15, Keegan Harrod finished with 14, and both Jaden Gustafson and Avery Johnson put up ten each.
“It’s always nice to see the ball go in the basket, but the bigger thing is coming out with the win and playing in the state championship tomorrow night” said Hanna. “We’re happy but the job is not finished yet.”
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