ST. JOHN, Kan. - The Central Plains Oilers defeated the Sunrise Christian Academy Buffaloes by a score of 58 to 35 to capture the championship of the 51st Annual St. John Lions Club Mid-Winter Classic.
The field for this year's Mid-Winter Classic was very deep with the lowest record being a 4 and 5 Nickerson. Central Plains earned the number one seed due to their perfect 10 and 0 record. Sunrise Christian Academy of Wichita came in 9 and 2 and earned the number three seed.
Coming into the championship game, Sunrise had a distinct size advantage as nine of their eleven players stood at least six feet tall and four of those standing at or above six foot five inches. The Oilers had five players on their eleven man roster at six feet or taller. Their tallest, though, only stands six foot four inches.
Both teams quickly showed the athleticism available to them. The game moved quickly early on up and down the court. Central Plains players would show that they could jump just as high as many of the Sunrise Academy players.
The first quarter ended with a score of 14 to 11 with the Oilers leading.
The Oiler defense came on strong in the second quarter by only allowing six points for the Buffaloes. All of those points came from Shaathon Walker.
Central Plains added another 14 points, eight of those coming from the free throw line.
At halftime, Central Plains lead 28 to 17.
The third quarter was when Central Plains really opened up the lead. Devon Ryan only made three baskets in the quarter. All three were from behind the three point line. The Oilers took advantage of Sunrise trying to switch their defenders on screens and got Ryan open repeatedly.
Sunrise failed to come up with an offensive run to match the production of the Oilers. They were behind 43 to 28 going into the final quarter.
Central Plains tried to slow down the game at points. This caused Sunrise to foul. The Oilers took advantage by making seven of the nine free throw attempts they had in the fourth quarter.
For the game, Central Plains only missed four of the 21 attempts from the free throw line.
With a minute left in the game, Central Plains Head Coach Brett Rolfs pulled his players and substituted in the second string players from his bench. Very few people saw this as a possibility going into the game only a couple hours earlier.
At the final buzzer, Central Plains won 58 to 35.
Devon Ryan lead all scorers with 18 points. Teammates Alex Hickel, 13 points, and Brett Leibl, 15 points, joined Ryan in scoring double digits.
Shaathon Walker lead the Sunrise players with 16 points.
"This is one of the better tournaments around the state this year with the loaded field it has," said Central Plains Head Coach Brett Rolfs. "It's a big accomplishment to win this."