CONWAY SPRINGS — Good shooters are never kept down for long.
Two nights after being held to one basket, Wichita Collegiate senior Blake Jablonski blistered Douglass for eight three-pointers and 28 points in a 77-54 Class 3A sub-state victory.
Collegiate, the defending Class 3A champion, will head to this week's state tournament in Hutchinson as one of the favorites.
"That's what's been happening, last year at state, too, but the other guys just stepped up big-time last year, and we rolled last year, and we hope to do the same this year," Jablonski said.
Not even a game like Thursday night could faze Jablonski against Douglass.
"I've been struggling a little bit recently, but Coach (Mitch) Fiegel and all the guys just tell me to keep shooting," Jablonski said. "They're confident in me, and it's great when the team's confident in you, and you're putting in the work and you have the green light.
"I was a little rusty off the bat, but I settled down and started to make my shots."
Fiegel isn't worried about being the team to beat at state.
"That's OK," he said. "We've been together a long time, a lot of these guys we've had since they were 7 years old."
The Spartans scored 17 points in the first and second quarters Saturday, taking a 34-15 halftime lead, and were never threatened.
Jablonski, held to a lone three-pointer in the first quarter, had 14 third-quarter points.
"He didn't start the night off hot, but he did what great shooters have got to do — he kept shooting," Fiegel said. "We're confident in him; he's confident in himself; his teammates are confident in him, and he proved us all right tonight."
Fiegel praised Douglass, which experienced a remarkable turnaround under coach Clint Meitler. Before the game, Fiegel said he told Meitler that it was a shame that both teams had to be in the same sub-state.
"That's a team that my heart bleeds for," Fiegel said. "Those guys won two games when they were freshmen. They worked all the way up to being the fourth-ranked team in 3A.
"That's a nice team, and I know they're disappointed. We've been where they are and I want (Meitler) to know that we feel for them, too."
Despite the disappointment, Meitler was proud of his team's progress from that 2-19 season in 2006-07.
"We knew then that we were going to turn this program around and build it on that senior group, and we did," Meitler said. "We won 10 as sophomores, 15 as juniors, and 20 when they were seniors. It's a great group of seniors, and I couldn't be more proud of them and our team."
Douglass4 11 18 21 — 54 Wichita Collegiate17 17 24 19 — 77
DOUGLASS: Holthaus 13, Smith 10, Nachbor 14, Shenold 2, Lovendahl 9, Fraley 3, Piha 3. Totals 17 (2) 18-31 54.
COLLEGIATE: Cornejo 6, Fiegel 6, LeMaster 7, Jablonski 28, Bailey 7, Richardson 8, Taylor 3, Burton 4, Clark 5, Phox 3. Totals 25 (12) 15-28 77.