Varsity Kansas

Brock Monty, Kapaun riding hard work into Class 5A tournament

Kapaun basketball player Brock Monty listens to Coach John Cherne during practice.
Kapaun basketball player Brock Monty listens to Coach John Cherne during practice. The Wichita Eagle

Brock Monty is a believer in little things adding up to big success.

He’s not a natural on the basketball court. He doesn’t have the athleticism so prevalent in the City League, and he doesn’t have the natural ability of some of the stars that led their teams to the state tournament this week.

But what Monty does have is the blue-collar work ethic and an attention to detail so great that it has closed the gap. Leaders often have a significant imprint on their teams and Monty’s handiwork is all over Kapaun Mount Carmel this season.

Over the course of 22 games, the Crusaders went from an unknown to upsetting No. 1-ranked Heights last week to being the team nobody wants to face this week at the Class 5A tournament in Topeka. Kapaun (14-8) will play second-seeded Bonner Springs (20-2) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s what I’ve prided myself on the minute I stepped into Kapaun,” said Monty, a senior. “I’m a perfectionist and I’m a little OCD about it. If things aren’t perfect in my opinion, then I get upset about it and I will wait and finish it until it is perfect. Whether it’s in the weight room or the classroom, basketball, football, it doesn’t matter, I try to do the little things that add up and make teams win.”

Last season it was easy to overlook Monty’s importance to Kapaun. He was the glue guy. The one who set the tough screens to spring the guards on forays to the basket. The one who grabbed the rebound or loose ball. The one who guarded the other team’s best player.

Monty still plays an integral part, but his role is more noticeable. After being hardly used on offense last season, Monty led the Crusaders in scoring this season at 16 points per game.

Chris Meitzner (12.0), Thomas Wells (9.4), and Mitchell Woodward (8.7) have also become consistent scorers this season.

“The thing about Brock is that he pays attention to detail,” Kapaun coach John Cherne said. “And I don’t think it’s the quarterback in him or it’s any one sport, I think it’s just his personality. The kid will just roll up his sleeves and go work harder than anybody else.”

Shouldering more of a scoring load was assumed after Kapaun graduated essentially every key contributor but Monty from last season’s team. But a crucial part that Monty felt he needed to give to this team was his leadership.

Against Heights, when Kapaun was facing a halftime deficit, Cherne asked Monty to play in the middle of the Heights zone and be a facilitator. Monty didn’t ask why the coach was asking his leading scorer to pass more, instead he was a key reason why the Crusaders were able to effectively break down the zone and upset the team favored to win the state title.

“I always ask my seniors, ‘What do you want to leave behind? What do you want your legacy to be?’ ” Cherne said. “I think Brock is leaving behind a legacy of how it’s supposed to be done. He’s a special one.”

Just this week, after a nearly three-hour practice, Cherne was leaving the gymnasium and saw Monty, who is joining the Kansas State football team, outside of Kapaun doing a football workout.

It’s that type of work ethic that leads the Crusaders.

“I just think people either want to do the work or they don’t want to do it,” Monty said. “And I’ve always been the one that’s wanted to put in the work.”

Of the four teams Cherne has taken to state in his five seasons, there’s no questioning this is the least-heralded of the bunch. It doesn’t have a standout scorer like the others did or multiple players that will play basketball in college.

In fact, this team is comprised of different cliques. It has football players, baseball players, soccer players, just about everything. They’re not a team made up of best friends, but that’s OK because they find a way to play like they are.

“It really is an eclectic group,” Cherne said. “I’ve always said that about them. They kind of go their different ways when they’re not on the basketball court together, but the thing that counts is that when they’re together, they’re together.”

Kapaun is fueled by the feeling it has been overlooked and slighted. They have found their confidence in the belief that together they can make a great team and they don’t need a star to lead the way.

They’re playing the best “team” basketball they’ve ever played under Cherne. They’re sharing the ball, playing inspired defense, and having fun together in shocking opponent after opponent.

They’re doing it together.

“I think what makes us so great is that every one of us does something that helps the team,” Monty said. “It’s a match made in heaven. I haven’t seen all of the teams (Cherne) has coached, but if this is not his best season of coaching, then I would be shocked. They’ve done an incredible job and I think this team has done an incredible job this season.”