HUTCHINSON — Wichita Collegiate's basketball team resembles a running back who can bust a 70-yard run in the fourth quarter because he's better conditioned than his opponents and can take advantage of all the contact he's laid on others.
Except the Spartans have a whole football team's worth of those; eleven players who run into the other guy over and over and make sure the other guy is worse off for it. Collegiate never is.
Their aggressiveness got them into trouble at times, but Collegiate spent another foe in the fourth quarter, holding Hutchinson Trinity scoreless for the final eight minutes in a 57-39 win in the Class 3A quarterfinals at the Sports Arena.
"I definitely see that comparison," said Collegiate guard Raymond Taylor, also the Spartans' tailback. "A running back has to have a lot of endurance throughout the whole game. We as a team need to bring that to the court and we've worked all year on that method. We've got enough depth to do it."
There was nothing gradual about Trinity's collapse. The Celtics crashed while the Spartans fed off every steal, seemingly going against nature by gaining energy after every sprint to the ball. Trinity took six shots in the fourth quarter, matching its number of turnovers.
Players such as Michael Mesh, Derek Racette and Dustin Ohl, who were game to take the fight back at Collegiate, suddenly lost all punching power. The first noticeable sign was when Mesh, who swished his first four free-throw attempts, badly missed one early in the fourth. His lower-body strength was gone and that of his teammates was fading rapidly.
"Our second-half runs have been like that so often this year," Taylor said. "It's gotten to the point where I'm ready for that to happen."
Trinity took a 7-2 lead by frequently breaking Collegiate's full-court pressure with passes over the top. When Collegiate took control of the tempo, Trinity adjusted nicely.
Collegiate's frantic defense ultimately works to its benefit, but during the first three quarters the Spartans frequently overplayed, drawing fouls and sending the Celtics to the line, where they partly made up an eight-point deficit to tie it 34-34 in the third quarter.
Since the Spartans are 11 deep, the fouls don't affect substitution patterns much, but they do have a negative effect on their game plan.
"What's the one thing that negates who we are?" Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel said. "Fouling. It allows them to score and rest. We can't wear them out."
Fiegel said he wanted to save his players' energy for today's semifinals by backing off occasionally on defense, and Trinity stayed close through the inside scoring of Dustin Ohl, who made 6 of 9 shots and scored 18 points.
The Spartans didn't back off in the fourth and didn't initiate much contact, either, as Trinity attempted one free throw, 13 fewer than Collegiate. Fiegel said he didn't know the Celtics didn't score in the fourth, but it seemed as if the players were aware as they contested every shot and went for every steal.
"We knew all about their pressure," Trinity coach Joe Hammersmith said. "We knew it was going to be a full 32 (minutes) and obviously it got us in the fourth quarter."