Tonganoxie High School abuzz with tournament activities
Seen from above, Tonganoxie must have looked like an anthill last week during the frenzy that was the 42nd annual Tonganoxie Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Clusters of players, coaches, fans, parents, managers and cheerleaders marched in and out of the high school, each group preoccupied with its own urgent business.
In fact, on Friday and Saturday, Tonganoxie looked like someone had stepped on the anthill, as a seemingly never-ending stream of people poured in and out of the gym. A stream of cars gushed in and out of the city. Parking was horrible, but the action was not.
Emerging from this swirling mass of confusion was Eudora, which won Saturday night's championship game in dramatic fashion, beating Van Horn 58-55 in overtime. That game, like most of the matchups in the tournament, was settled by 10 or fewer points.
Most of the coaches agreed that the eight teams in the tournament were all fairly evenly matched.
"I just feel like, regardless of seeds, there's pretty even ability," said Van Horn Coach Phil Bullocks. "Last year, it was all Bonner Springs. This year, there's more of an equal amount of talent."
The tournament began on Jan. 15, with first-round matchups of Tonganoxie vs. Oskaloosa, and Lansing vs. Eudora.
The Chieftains beat Oskaloosa, 55-46, and Eudora beat Lansing 54-50.
On Tuesday, Olathe Christian beat Hogan, 71-46. Later that night, Van Horn edged defending tournament champion Bonner Springs, 81-79.
In Thursday's losers bracket games, Lansing handed number-one seeded Oskaloosa its second straight loss of the tournament, 48-31.
In Friday's winners bracket games, Tonganoxie fell, 42-49, to eventual champion Eudora, and Van Horn beat Olathe Christian, 68-55.
On Saturday, the teams played their final games.
At 2 p.m., Oskaloosa beat Hogan, 58-45, winning seventh place in the tournament.
At 3:30 p.m., Bonner Springs beat Lansing, 57-52, to capture fifth-place honors.
In the 6 p.m. game, Tonganoxie defended its home court, beating Olathe Christian, 51-43, to claim third place. This was the second year in a row the Chieftains have finished in the top three in its own tournament.
Last year the Chieftains finished second after losing to Bonner Springs in the championship game.
And Eudora won the 2001 tournament, beating Van Horn, 58-55 in overtime.
But basketball wasn't the only thing going on at the tournament. Cheerleader and drill teams from attending schools were evaluated by anonymous judges and, although there was no formal competition, Tonganoxie cheerleader sponsor Brenda Meyer said that the lady Chieftains earned critiques that ranked among the best at the tournament.
During halftime of Tonganoxie's third-place game, red carpets lined with balloons and Christmas lights were rolled onto the court and the tournament's four queen candidates were escorted to center court while their academic and athletic resumes were read to the crowd.
And the crowd, while it applauded all of the candidates, erupted when Tonganoxie candidate Kristin Korb was announced, filling the air with as many decibels as it could muster.
Lansing's Heather Robbins won the crown.
Tonganoxie players Scott Breuer and Bryan Gurss were named to the all-tournament team. Breuer also was named most inspirational player.
Tonganoxie, which entered the tournament seeded last, won the award for team fairing best with its position on the bracket.
Van Horn's Darnell Hale was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after leading his team to the Championship game.