HUTCHINSON – Sometimes, it’s just as simple as looking at the stat sheet.
That’s all Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel had to do to pinpoint just where Saturday’s Class 3A boys championship game got away from his Spartans. And chances are, Fiegel didn’t even need to see the numbers to know how Scott City pulled away for a 60-48 victory.
“At the end of the day, it’s basketball,” Fiegel said. “They shoot 60 percent from the field, we shoot 34 percent from the field. It’s real easy to figure out who’s on the winning end of that one.”
Scott City has been on the winning end of every game it’s played in the Sports Arena since losing to Collegiate in the 2007 championship game. The state title was the fourth straight for the Beavers in Class 3A and fourth in last five years, with Scott City finishing second in Class 4A-Division II last year.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Right now, I can’t even believe it happened,” Scott City coach Glen O’Neil said. “When I started coaching a long time ago, I told the guys that interviewed me I’d love to be introduced before a state championship game one day. Right now, it’s surreal to me.”
Collegiate posed a serious threat to the Beavers’ reign, particularly after stringing together a 13-2 run midway through the second quarter that erased a 20-15 Scott City lead. Jack Larsen began the run and the Spartans connected on five straight shots and scored on six straight possessions, while forcing three turnovers and a pair of rushed three-pointers by the Beavers to grab a 28-22 lead.
At that point, Collegiate was doing what it did best and there wasn’t any indication things were going to change.
But they did.
Dylan Hutchins ended the Collegiate surge with a three-pointer and Trey O’Neil followed with back-to-back step-back three-pointers, as well. Even though the Spartans still held a 32-31 lead at halftime, thanks to six straight makes at the free throw line, Scott City had re-discovered its game.
Collegiate opened the second half with baskets on its first three possessions to maintain a 39-37 lead, but then went ice cold. The Spartans made four more shots the rest of the game, finishing the contest in a 4-of-27 shooting funk that also prevented their press –which forced 10 first-half turnovers – from picking up the slack.
“I thought we were a little bit off on our game offensively tonight,” Fiegel said. “You have to credit their defense. And you have to credit them for making shots. We just weren’t quite ready to be champions yet.”
Scott City took the lead for good with a 6-0 run early in the third period and stretched it to 48-41 at the end of the third on a three-pointer from Hutchins. After Collegiate climbed back within 48-46 on Jacob Newlin’s follow with 6:03 left, O’Neil delivered the dagger – a three from the corner that started a 12-2 run to end the game.
O’Neil finished with 14 points, hitting 4 of 6 three-pointers, while Brett Meyer led Scott City (25-1) with 17 points and Sloan Baker added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Austin Waddell led Collegiate (22-4) with 11 points, but mirrored his team’s struggles. The junior made four of his first six shots, but missed his last eight.
“It just boiled down to who made shots and we didn’t,” Waddell said. “When the shots weren’t falling, you just try even harder which isn’t good. You just have to let it come to you.”
The bright spot for the Spartans is Waddell is one of 10 players on Collegiate’s state roster who will be back next year, losing only Jack Copher and Cameron Chugg to graduation. The Spartans had said that last year’s first-round loss to eventual champion Hesston served as a huge motivator for this season and getting close to a state title will fan the fire even more.
“It’s going to be in our minds all off-season,” Waddell said. “We’ll be plenty motivated next time we get here.”
“If you can’t get motivated by getting to a state championship game, falling short and bringing everybody back, I don’t know what motivates you,” he said.