Steele Chapman made almost the entire gym sing in unison.
Midway through the first quarter, he drove through the lane and spiked a left-handed dunk over East’s Amos Alford Jr. The student section, the parents, even some of the opposing fans screamed, “Ohh.”
The dunk was emphatic. It was Chapman’s first of his high school career. And maybe most important, it was a blast to the perception of Campus basketball.
The Colts haven’t reached the final week of a Kansas state basketball tournament since 1998. Since then, they have gone through one of the toughest stretches in the Wichita area. Campus hasn’t had a winning season since before 2005.
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So far this season the Colts are 7-1 and No. 3 in Class 6A West. On Tuesday they beat rival Derby for the first time in 15 years and 30 tries. Saturday, they beat City League power Wichita East by 28. East is tied for the fifth most state titles in Kansas basketball history.
Things are changing at Campus.
“There are a lot of streaks that need to be broken,” Chapman said. “As soon as we put that jersey on, we’re not worried about any of that. We think about the future and the present. We forget the past.”
The Colts have welcomed in almost an entire starting lineup of new players since the start of last season. Brothers Steele and Sterling Chapman came in from Wichita South. Junior Shawn Warrior transferred from Southeast. And fellow junior Thomas King decided to enter the public school system after growing up home-schooled.
Together, they combined for 42 points Saturday. Each of them had at least 10. Coach Chris Davis said his team did everything he asked coming in.
“We just came out and hit them in the mouth, there’s no other way to say it,” he said. “We guarded. We shared the ball. We did exactly what I put on the board. We did things tonight as well as we have done in my five years here. I’m so proud of these guys.”
The Colts come out every night believing, not hoping, they can win.
“These guys aren’t taking a backseat to anybody, anybody,” Davis said. “That’s their mindset, and we coach that way. It’s kind of like coach (Gregg) Marshall says, ‘Play angry.’ They have a chip on their shoulder.”
Campus assistant coach Brandon Johnson is a Colt alumnus. He played on the basketball team and knows the process the program has gone through.
He said what he sees out of the players on a daily basis is special.
“The players have this extreme confidence in each other,” he said. “We just go into the game knowing that if we play the way we should, it’s going to be in our favor.”
The Colts get out in transition like a City League team and finish at the rim like City League players.
Three of Campus’ players have GWAL experience, which can give suburban teams fits.
Coming into Saturday night, the Colts had to play Newton, Salina Central and Derby. They went 3-0. After the midseason tournament week, they will have to play those three and Maize, the No. 1 team in 5A West, again as part of their AVCTL I schedule.
Playing in such a loaded league has helped feed the paradigm of Campus athletics, not only in basketball.
For the past three years, football has come down to Derby and Maize. In baseball, those two schools and Salina Central compete for the league title year-after-year. In wrestling, Newton becomes a real contender.
But in recent years, the gap has shrunk.
The Campus football won its first playoff game last season and first home playoff game this season. Baseball finished third last spring in 6A tied with Derby. Boys track and field took third, too.
Chapman said his classmates at Campus hear everything, let it motivate them and come out stronger.
“The team chemistry is a big help, but we’re all good players,” he said. “When we play together, it’s just magic out there.”
There is a lot of season left. Davis said he knows that, and though he knows his team has already nearly matched its win total from last year, he wants more.
“I tell our kids every day, ‘I want to be Blue Valley Northwest kind of good,’ ” Davis said. “I don’t know that we’ll ever get there, but that’s our goal.”