El Dorado has played in 25 state basketball tournaments. But there’s still historical significance when a team hasn’t been to one in 13 years.
On Thursday, the Wildcats started making up for lost time.
Showing poise as Basehor-Linwood tried to spoil its upset bid, No. 6 seed El Dorado used clutch free-throw shooting and Travis House’s 23 points to hold off the Bobcats 66-60 in the Class 4A-Division I boys quarterfinals at the Bicentennial Center.
Jared Haury added 19 points, including two pivotal three-pointers in the third quarter, to give El Dorado its first state victory since a 1999 semifinal win over Augusta.
“We don’t make it regularly into state in the team sports – football, basketball,” El Dorado coach Gary Melcher said. “It’s just neat for our community. We had a pretty good crowd and it’ll be bigger tomorrow.”
El Dorado (14-9) will play Topeka Hayden, which eliminated Independence 82-74, in Friday’s semifinals.
Victories over Circle and Andover Central last week proved to be a perfect dress rehearsal for El Dorado, which didn’t lead until the third quarter. The Wildcats held on by making 24 of 30 free throws, including 15 of 18 in the second half.
“That’s kind of how both of our sub-state games were – just grind them out and make plays,” said House, who scored 17 points in the second half. “We’re doing a good job of that right now, and hopefully, we can just keep doing it.”
El Dorado trailed by seven late in the first half. But Haury tied the score at 33 with a three-pointer 16 seconds into the third quarter. He added another midway through the quarter, pushing the Wildcats’ lead to 41-36.
“Jared’s a good shooter,” said Melcher, whose coaching counterpart, Mike McBride, graduated from El Dorado in 1991. “I just don’t always like when he shoots. But he can shoot it.”
Basehor-Linwood (19-4),w hich got 16 points from Patrick Muldoon, closed the third quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 46-43. But House scored El Dorado’s first eight points of the fourth, and his three-point play with 5:10 remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good at 51-48.
“Coach told us we weren’t expected to win, so we could just go play,” House said. “I think that kind of played to our advantage.”
“My dad would describe it as ‘soft’,” said McPherson guard Kyler Kinnamon, whose father, Kurt, is the Bullpups coach. “We started to get timid with the ball.”
Sumner, which shot 19 percent in the first half (4 of 21) and trailed 30-9, sliced the Bullpups’ lead to 35-27. But the rally stalled, as McPherson (21-1) pushed its lead back to double digits.
Kinnamon finished with 14 points and five assists for McPherson, which will play Paola in Friday’s semifinals. Sumner (10-13), the tournament’s No. 8 seed, got 18 points from Derek Sykes.
An official whistled McDew for hanging on the rim. But all it did was spark McDew.
McDew hit consecutive three-pointers to fuel a 15-3 second-half run and vault Paola into the semifinals. McDew finished with 20 points, doing his part to offset 28 points from Winfield’s Will Adler.
Adler hit the two technical free throws to stretch Winfield’s lead to 36-29. But Paola, emotionally charged after the technical, took the lead for good on a McDew’s three-point play with 6:57 remaining.
Adler and Jonathan Mays had three-point looks for Winfield late in the game with Paola leading 49-46, but neither could connect. After McNew hit two free throws with four seconds remaining for the game’s final points, he intercepted a full-court inbounds pass by Winfield and dribbled out the final seconds.