The Kapaun Mount Carmel boys basketball team might look back on its third-place finish in the City League with some disappointment, particularly since the Crusaders finished four games out of second.
But the benefit of playing in a league with supreme athleticism is that other Class 5A schools are unfamiliar with an up-and-down style of play.
The Crusaders used that familiarity with fast to their advantage Wednesday, controlling the tempo in a 74-48 home win over Arkansas City in a 5A sub-state semifinal.
Kapaun meets CL-rival Bishop Carroll for a state tournament berth on Friday at Andover.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"The City League is really tough — that's a tough league," Kapaun forward Michael Reynolds said. "It's fast-paced and everything, so we just wanted to run them."
Kapaun's full-court press enabled it to score the first nine points, and though Ark City rallied during the second quarter, the Crusaders never lost the lead.
Ark City attempted to control the game by heavily involving center Taylor Rock. The former Southeast player scored 16 points, but Kapaun took over when Rock exited with three fouls in the third quarter.
"It's really hard (in practice) to imitate the speed they have," Ark City coach Anthony Brantley said. Our kids aren't seeing that."
The Crusaders found balance between up-tempo and methodical, looking to Reynolds for points in the paint.
After missing his first four shots, Reynolds made his next three and finished with nine points. He drew Rock's third foul and scored five in the third quarter, when Kapaun had a 16-6 advantage.
"Early in the year, we didn't have that," Kapaun coach Bernie Pearson said. "We were relying on our guards. Anytime we have that balanced attack it takes the pressure off the guards, and we have to have that."
Kapaun's depth was crucial in keeping Rock from becoming a major factor. Austin Griffith and Taylor Floyd, while both scoreless, kept the Crusaders from enduring the same foul trouble Ark City did.
"I think their post game is underrated," Brantley said. "When they caught they made strong moves. And they ended up getting us in foul trouble, which caught up with us."
Arkansas City (8-13) 12 14 6 16 -- 48 Kapaun Mount Carmel (13-8) 18 16 16 24 -- 74
ARKANSAS CITY: Weaver 4 0-0 11, Avery 4 0-0 9, Smith 1 2-2 4, Boxman 1 3-4 6, Rock 7 2-3 16, Brantley 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 (5) 7-10 48.
KAPAUN MOUNT CARMEL: Lewis 6 2-4 18, Knox 2 4-6 8, Small 4 2-3 10, Reynolds 3 3-6 9, Martin 4 0-0 8, Laveist 2 6-6 11, Knott 1 0-0 2, Boswell 3 0-0 8. Totals 25 (7) 17-25 74.