Heartbreak in Hiawatha
THS, though, earns its first winning season since 1992
Tonganoxie had everything it wanted Saturday going into its Sub-state championship game against Atchison in Hiawatha.
The Chieftains had just defeated Lansing the night before, in a rematch the players had wanted after losing both regular season contests to the Lions.
Tonganoxie was 12-10, and was set to complete its first winning season since 1991-92.
THS also had a slight height advantage, with two players at 6-foot-5, and another at 6-foot-4, while Atchison's tallest players were 6-foot-3.
Atchison, though, relied on its small but quick guards for help, and the No. 6 seed took care of No. 5 Tonganoxie 66-55.
Stephen Gray scored 22, while Tony Carter supplied 20 and fellow guard Kenton Bratton had 15 in Atchison's 66-55 win.
"Sometimes you just have to shake their hands and wish them well," THS coach David Walker said.
Walker saw problems on the offensive side. Tonganoxie committed three more turnovers than its opponents in the other Sub-state games, but committed 16 compared to Atchison's 6 in the finals.
"We didn't take care of the ball like we usually do," Walker said. "Give them credit, they got after a lot of loose balls."
The Chieftains had a 12-11 advantage after the first quarter, but Atchison made a run in the second quarter and had a 27-21 lead at halftime. Tonganoxie was down by as many as 11 during the second half, but would make runs and cut the lead to three. Atchison, though, would always answer with its own big run. Atchison also made 16 out of 19 free throws in.
THS senior Matt Alexander said the Chieftains didn't open as he had hoped.
"I didn't think we came out as strong on D," Alexander said.
The loss meant Tonganoxie wouldn't advance to State, but Alexander was pleased the Chieftains reached the finals.
"No one expected us to be here and we got here," Alexander said.
Along with Alexander, four other seniors played in their final games Bryan Gurss, Jordan Glenn, Kraig LaRosh and Thomas Gilner.
"Those seniors set the cornerstone," Walker said. "The younger kids had great role models.
"I think we had a fantastic year. The senior leadership goes to show people what you can do when you work hard in the off-season."
The Chieftains ended their season at 12-11.
AHS (11-12) 11 16 16 23 66
THS (12-11) 12 9 17 17 55
Tonganoxie 70, Lansing 64
For Tonganoxie, the third time was the charm. The Chieftains, who dropped two regular season games to Lansing, defeated the top-seeded Lions 70-64 on Friday in a 4A Sub-state in Hiawatha.
Lansing looked to advance early, thanks to four three-pointers in the first quarter and a 20-11 lead, but Tonganoxie changed the momentum and outscored Lansing in the next three quarters. The Lions finished 10-for-30 from behind the arc, and shot 36 percent overall, while Tonganoxie was at 50 percent from the field.
The No. 5 Chieftains got a big lift in the fourth from sophomore Shane Howard. Howard was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the fourth, one of which came on a three-point play. The sophomore also finished the game a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe and had 15 points. Bryan Gurss led the Chieftains with 16 points, while Jacob Walker was also in double figures with 11.
Tonganoxie 57, Maur Hill 40
Maur Hill cheerleaders waited patiently for speakers to blare music for their halftime performance Feb. 26 at the Tonganoxie-Maur Hill Sub-state game in Atchison. The performance finally kicked in just in time for the second half.
Unfortunately for the No. 4 Maur Hill basketball team, the same couldn't be said. Tonganoxie, which led 19-15 at halftime, didn't allow a Maur Hill bucket until the 5:47 mark of the third quarter. Tonganoxie went on a 9-2 run and had a 28-17 lead.
The Junior Ravens managed a free throw at the 3:09 mark, then scored their second field goal with 45 seconds left in the third, but Tonganoxie built another run and had a 36-20 lead.
THS outscored Maur Hill 21-20 in the fourth, but that final quarter still produced a 57-40 win. The victory was Tonganoxie's first postseason win in more than a decade.
The Chieftains started hot, but the pace slowed, thanks to the Junior Ravens' zone defense.
Tonganoxie, though, switched from a 1-3-1 to a man-to-man and back.
The variety appeared to help, especially in the pivotal third quarter, when the Junior Ravens scored five points. Their fourth-quarter outburst of 20 points marked the only quarter Maur Hill scored in double figures.
For Tonganoxie, though, it came down to work on the boards.
Walker credited strong rebounding, specifically by senior Jordan Glenn, as a reason for Tonganoxie's big win.