LARNED, Kan. The Keady Classic, named for Larned-native and Hall of Fame coach Gene Keady, has been tipping off in December since 1983. This year's lineup again includes big names as top-ranked St. John and 10th-ranked Spearville are headed to the finals. Friday's semifinals looked like good matchups on paper, but three of the four games were runaways.
Larned boys back into finals
An early-season goal for Larned coach Jerrod Smith was to reach the finals and perhaps upend perennially-tough St. John, winners of six of the last seven Classics, including last year's title over the host Indians. Smith's squad outran Spearville 60-31.
"I think we're playing pretty well," Smith said. "It was good tonight to see that we hit some outside shots. Defensively we're still good. We're intense and we're playing extremely well. I'm proud of how hard we're playing.
"I think that's affecting a little bit on the offensive end. We're expending so much energy defensively, our legs have been a little gone. We're not in mid-season shape right now, obviously. I think the outside shots were going to fall. We were a lot more patient in the half-court offense and that helped us hit some shots."
The late game turned into a runaway early on as Larned senior Mason Perez fired in six points and senior Chance Sanger added a pair of threes in the first quarter. The Indians led 16-3 after eight minutes.
Tough defense and hot shooting proved to be the theme of the night for the Indians. Perez swished a 3-pointer just a few ticks into the second quarter. Sanger, Jack Stelter, Dillan Smith, and Mello Bryant all added treys in the frame as Larned extended its gap to 33-15 by halftime.
Spearville sophomore Joshua Cox scored two of his 15 points early in the third for a 40-19 score. The Indians answered with a 12-1 run. Senior Brock Skelton knocked down back-to-back threes in the run, and Sanger added nine points in the quarter.
Lancer sophomore Logan Hubbell scored six points for his side, and sophomore Kolten Bennett added four points. Sanger led all players with 18 points, followed by 11 from Perez and 10 from Skelton.
The Indians get a championship rematch against St. John. The Tigers slowly pulled away from Hoisington in the other semifinal, leading just 13-10 after one quarter and 41-30 after three in the 58-38 win.
Tiger junior Uriel Calleros had a big second quarter to lead his team with 15 points. Marshall Woolf added 11 points, and big-man Tanner Halling and Trey Fisher each scored nine points.
Spearville girls dominate Macksville
The No. 10 Lady Lancers won the Keady Classic in 2018. Macksville, meanwhile, made its first semifinal appearance in more than a decade. That difference in experience was part of the story as Spearville cruised to a 67-13 win. The Lady Lancers will face Bucklin in Saturday's championship game.
The contest was decided early on. Senior Brianna Ede scored 45 seconds into the game, and a basket and foul from senior Ehlaina Hartman gave the Lancers a 7-0 lead just over two minutes in. The Emporia State bound came up with a handful of steals and scored eight points in the opening frame as Spearville opened up a 24-2 lead.
The points and turnovers kept coming in the second quarter. Hartman finished with 19 points in the first two quarters. Junior Alissa Heskamp warmed up with eight points in the first half, and freshman Taegan Pedigo scored eight points in the second quarter. On the other end, Lady Mustang sophomore Adi Ibarra scored the only four points. Spearville led 49-4 at the break.
Heskamp found her 3-point shot in the third with three makes from behind the arc. Her 17 points were second only to Hartman's 19. With four points from sophomore Anna Stein, the Lady Lancers led by as many as 60 points at 64-4.
Macksville scored the only nine points in a running-clock fourth quarter. A free throw from freshman Joselin Garcia was the first non-Ibarra point for Macksville with 6:27 to play. With 1:19 remaining, Garcia made the first Mustang field goal since Ibarra's last name in the second quarter. Ibarra finished with eight points, Garcia scored three points, and Lydia Mendez, who fired in 22 points in round one against Larned, scored her two points late.
Spearville advances to Friday's championship game against Bucklin. The Red Aces defeated Hoisington 43-28 in round one on Tuesday, then snuck by St. John 41-34 in Friday's early semifinal.