HOISINGTON, Kan. With just one early-season loss to a ranked St. John squad, the Hoisington boys peaked at No. 5 in the Class 3A rankings. After another loss to St. John and a subsequent loss to Haven, the Cardinals are now on the way back up. Friday night they beat up Halstead 61-25 in a running-clock affair.
"It's never good to lose a couple games, but we bounced back," said Hoisington junior Mason Haxton. "We're fighting hard and getting after it in practice. We're doing pretty good."
Haxton did his part early on in Friday's game with a basket just six seconds in. He scored Hoisington's first seven points of the night in just 90 seconds, all on perfect 3-of-3 shooting with a trey.
"It's always fun for someone when they're not missing shots," he said. "It's fun for the team to get excited and everyone around you is glad you're doing well."
The Cardinals are capable of putting up big points, and coach Kyle Haxton had six players score in the opening eight minutes. Twice junior Holt Hanzlick found Chase Robinson, including a shot at the buzzer that put Hoisington ahead 22-7.
Halstead, meanwhile, struggled to find points on 3 of 15 shooting in the first half. That included a 1-for-8 effort from behind the arc. The Dragons made just three of their 15 3-point attempts through the first three quarters.
On the other end, Hoisington stayed hot in the second. Haxton, Braden Mooney, and Drew Nicholson all converted treys in the second quarter. The Cardinal lead grew to 39-12 by halftime.
Cardinal sophomore Bralen Thompson scored the first four points of the second half in short order. Hanzlick picked up another assist, this time to senior Avery Brewer, and Nicholson swished another three.
Coach Haxton was able to utilize his bench for large stretches in the second half. Nicholson still led all players with 15 points to go with eight rebounds. Haxton added 13 points and five boards, and Thompson finished with 10 points. Hanzlick and Robinson combined for another 13 points.
Junior Cameron Kohr scored eight points to lead the Dragons. Holden Davis and Isaac Radke each added six points.
Hoisington's tough road is far from over. The Cards have a win against top-ranked Hesston, but still draw tests from ranked Larned and Lyons teams. Hoisington's sub-state will feature ranked squads TMP and Beloit.
"We've lost three games to two really good teams," Coach Haxton said. "I wasn't pleased with how we performed in those three games but we can't worry about those. We have to worry about getting better, playing together, playing with confidence, and playing with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. I think we've done that in the last couple games."