HUTCHINSON – As soon as the Class 3A boys tournament pairings came out, Austin Waddell’s face lit up.
“We were thrilled,” the Collegiate junior said.
This wasn’t an “Oh great, we got Hesston” thrilled, one that came with a sense of bemoaned luck having drawn the reigning 3A champions. And oh by the way, the team that knocked the Spartans from the tournament last year in the quarterfinals.
Instead, this was a “Oh great! We got Hesston!” thrilled, one that had the Spartans champing at the bit, eager to deliver some payback for last year’s eight-point defeat.
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That’s exactly what Collegiate got, too. Thanks to a huge effort from Waddell and relentless effort from each wave of Spartans that took the floor, Collegiate ended Hesston’s reign with a 57-44 victory.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment since last year,” Waddell said. “We feel like we’ve grown and become a way better team than we were last year.”
After taking down the champs, Collegiate now gets its shot at the tournament’s No. 1 seed with an 8:15 p.m. semifinal clash with Sabetha (23-1). The Bluejays rallied late to down Riverton 50-46.
No late heroics were necessary for Collegiate. The Spartans dominated early, jumping out to a quick 16-6 lead on Hesston, and then answered when the Swathers rallied to tie it at 20-20 late in the second quarter.
After Collegiate finished the half on a 6-0 run for a 26-20 halftime lead, Waddell took over at the start of the second half, scoring the first eight points.
“I had a lot of regrets about last year and I didn’t want to have them again this year,” Waddell said. “I came out and did not want to be denied.”
Hesston weathered Waddell’s personal barrage, getting eight points from Jonathan Weber, including back-to-back buckets that pulled Hesston with 34-32.
It was still a two-point game after the teams traded free throws before Collegiate took control. The Spartans scored six straight and then answered a Tyler McCartney three-pointer with a Kendall Reed trey at the buzzer for a 45-37 lead after three.
Hesston never got closer than six the rest of the way and Collegiate pulled away late.
“We battled,” Hesston coach Greg Raleigh said. “We just got tired. ... They’re good.”
Waddell finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Reed added 12 points, going 7 of 7 at the free-throw line, and Cameron Christian scored 10.
Hesston (21-3) was led by 12 points from McCartney and also got 11 apiece from Weber and Grant Raleigh. But the Swathers were 2 of 16 beyond the arc.
Scott City 47, Cheney 44 – Cheney was right where it wanted to be.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had stared Scott City’s tradition and mystique square in the face without blinking. Not only had Cheney gone toe to toe with a team that hasn’t lost on the Sports Arena floor since 2007, but for the bulk of the first three quarters had been the better team.
“A lot of people thought we were going to come in and get destroyed, but our kids never felt that,” Cheney coach Lee Baldwin said.
Tied 32-32 going into the final quarter, Cheney sensed the upset. In the end, however, Scott City did what it’s done so many times in Hutchinson, making big plays to pull out a 47-44 win.
None were bigger than Trey O’Neil’s three-pointers to open the fourth quarter. Hounded constantly throughout the first three quarters by Cheney’s man defense, namely Cameron Hill and Dylan Heck, O’Neil had missed his first four three-point attempts and gotten off seven shots overall.
But in crunch time he delivered, nailing a step-back three from the wing to start the fourth that gave Scott City the lead for good. He followed with another trey from the corner as the Beavers hit Cheney with a 10-2 run.
“We just tried to deny him and keep him frustrated,” Baldwin said. “Even the shots he hit were tough shots with guys up on him.”
Noah Schomacker finished with 12 points to lead the Cardinals (19-5), who were making their first state appearance since 2008.