Much of the focus during the course of the East boys basketball season has been on the youth of the team and the hope for the future.
East senior Tyas Martin, though, has been a force throughout, and Saturday in the Class 6A third-place game at Koch Arena, he ensured his career would end with a win.
Martin finished with a team-high 21 points and he scored eight straight points over the final three minutes in a 65-60 win over Maize.
“He was great tonight,” East coach Joe Jackson said. “He was aggressive in attacking the rim. Some of his dribble penetration caused Maize to be a little late on rotations and (he) was able to get to the rim.
“Tyas came up big for us again today. He’s been one of our leaders the entire year.”
Martin scored four points to put East up 58-50 in the final three minutes.
After East sophomore Xavier Kelly blocked a shot, Maize got the offensive rebound and Ky-Sean Johnson hit a three-pointer to get within 58-53.
Senior teammate Jacob Horsch followed with a steal and a three. Horsch hit 5 of 6 three-pointers and had a team-high 21 points.
Then Maize junior Connor Lungwitz capped the 8-2 run with a basket inside and the Eagles were within 60-58 with 28.2 seconds to go.
Maize came out of a timeout in pressure defense.
It was an intense finish, and Martin didn’t want to see his final game slip away.
“You just have to keep your head,” he said. “Once you lose your head, then everyone loses their head. It’s a chain reaction.”
He hit two free throws with 20.8 seconds remaining. Maize was still within two when Connor Eleeson hit two free throws with 13.5 seconds to go.
But East junior Zach Jackson, who had 14 points and two blocked shots, hit 3 of 4 free throws in the final 12.6 seconds.
While the loss was difficult, Maize was playing in the program’s first third-place game.
“You’re hoping to play for a championship, and it didn’t work out, so you don’t know how you’ll respond,” Maize coach Chris Davis said. “We competed with everything we had.”
Kelly had 12 points for East, while Maize senior Aaron Shaw had 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
BV Northwest senior Clay Custer
Wichita East senior Tyas Martin
East coach Joe Jackson
Maize boys coach Chris Davis