LYONS, Kan. - With five ranked teams in the Central Kansas League just last week, the final two weeks of the season proved to be a tough one for some teams. Lyons dropped out of the 3A ranks with recent losses to Haven and Hesston. Hoisington entered Tuesday's regular-season finale in Lyons coming off a big Friday win against ranked Larned. The Cards buckled down late to beat the Lions 66-47.
"It was a very quality opponent," said Hoisington coach Kyle Haxton. "They were 15-4 just like we were. They were fighting for a No. 2 rank in the league and we ended up getting that, at least a share of it. We wanted to win league this year but we'll take a second-place finish. That's movement in the right direction. Hopefully next year we can get that league title we've been battling for."
Hoisington led 29-21 at the half and maintained a 10-point lead several times early in the third quarter. Finally the Lions were able to strike back. Senior Connor Minix started the run, then Rey Bejarano added a triple to cut the deficit in half. A pair of Minix free throws cut a 10-point gap all the way to 36-33.
The Cardinals had the answer. Senior Avery Brewer opened things with a corner three, then Drew Nicholson got his 3-point try to bounce in. Nicholson added two more quick shots underneath the basket, then Brewer added a trey at the buzzer. All of a sudden the lead was 50-33.
Cardinal sophomore Bralen Thompson hit a trio of triples in the second quarter. After a slow third, he hit two more threes in the final eight minutes and scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the final frame.
"He needed to get it going to get his confidence back because he's a dangerous player," Haxton said. "When we add another one who is capable like that to the mix, that makes us scary."
The Cardinal defense held Minix and junior Trey McClure in check with just 22 combined points. McClure scored seven of his 13 points in the final quarter. Bejarano finished with 10 points for the Lions.
"He's tough," Haxton said of McClure. "He wants to get down hill, he wants to keep working his way to the rim. He's not a pull-up jump shot type of kid. We knew our help had to be good, and our hedge had to be good out top. I thought defensively our guys completely invested in the game plan."
Thompson scored all 23 of his points in the final three quarters. Mason Haxton finished with 12 points and five boards, and Nicholson was huge on the glass late to finish with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Brewer scored all nine of his points from behind the arc.