By NICK McQUEEN
Certainly, a bit of revenge was on the minds of members of the Sharon Springs-Wallace County boys' basketball team in Friday night's semifinal game of the Class 1A Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
That's over and done with.
After disposing of Baileyville-B&B — the school that routed the Wildcats in the Eight-Man Division II state football championship — Wallace County has a new goal.
Thanks to a 69-46 win against the Falcons, Wallace County now has a shot to play for its first boys' state basketball championship.
“The guys got a little revenge from football season,” Wallace County coach Larry O'Connor said. “The guys remembered it. They played with a little edge tonight.
“They kind of took the football style back out in the first half.”
In the first quarter, sixth-seeded B&B (17-8) hung right with the speedy Wildcats, a team known for their uptempo play, and full-court pressure.
But then in the second quarter, that proved to be too much.
“Their pressure got to us,” B&B coach Jason Hajek said. “The first quarter we did a good job, but after we got in foul trouble. …”
Sparked by a big first half from senior Cayden Daily, Wallace County (23-2) went on a 16-2 run after B&B had taken a brief lead — its only lead of the night.
“We limited them to one shot,” O'Connor said. “I told our shooters if we were going to win this thing against their zone, you just had to relax and shoot the ball. Don't worry about misses, just shoot the ball like you know you can.”
It turned from football style into a track meet. After the run, B&B was just playing catch-up. With 17 first-half points from Daily — with three 3s — the Wildcats maintained a 20-point lead by the break.
“Cayden has put us on his back the whole season,” O'Connor said of his senior scoring leader. “He's just a phenomenal player. He refuses to lose.”
Even with a 20-point margin, though, the two teams showed no love loss, and the physical play continued through the third quarter.
“That just goes back to when we beat them in the football state championship,” Hajek said. “We knew they would try and get us back, and they've got a great ball club.”
B&B did make a small run to cut it to 14 to start the fourth quarter, following a technical foul on Wallace County senior Kyle Gfeller.
But once Daily converted on a conventional 3-point play with 6:17 remaining, Wallace County was able to silence the Falcons' momentum.
“Best team we've seen all year,” Hajek said of Wallace County, which finished fourth in Division II last season. “We've seen teams that run but nothing like that, not with all five guys they have on the floor. “They're a very good ball club.”
Daily finished with 21 points, while junior Nate Klinge, senior Clay Schemm and sophomore Luke Schemm added 10 points each. Cameron Haug led B&B with 10 points.
Now Wallace County gets one-loss Beloit/St. John's-Tipton in Saturday's title game, the first appearance for each school in the championship. Game time is 6:15 p.m. at GMC. B&B will face Chetopa in the 2 p.m. third-place game.
St. John's-Tipton rolled past No. 4 seed Chetopa, 67-29, after leading 40-8 at halftime in Friday's other semifinal.
“Just enjoy the experience. If we come out and play our game, we're good enough to win,” said O'Connor, who coached state title teams in Brewster prior to moving to Sharon Springs. “That's all I have to say. If we do that, we'll win a state championship.”
Wallace County 69, B&B 46
Cameron Haug 5-6 0-3 10, Rottinghaus 3-9 1-2 7, Schmitz 2-2 0-0 4, Schulte 2-7 4-4 9, Deters 3-5 0-1 6, Heiman 1-2 2-4 4, Holthaus 0-5 2-3 2, Schmitz 2-2 0-0 4. Totals — 18-38 9-17 46.
SHARON SPRINGS-WALLACE COUNTY (23-2)
Cayden Daily 8-15 2-3 21, Luke Schemm 3-7 4-4 10, Clay Schemm 4-6 2-2 10, Nate Klinge 2-8 5-6 10, K. Gfeller 2-6 1-2 5, Warner 1-2 0-0 2, E. Gfeller 0-1 0-0 0, Allen 1-2 0-1 2, Montes 2-2 1-2 7, Grund 1-3 0-0 2. Totals — 24-52 15-20 69.
B&B 17 5 14 10 — 46
Wallace County 18 24 10 17 — 69
3-point goals — B&B 1-12 (Rottinghaus 0-3, Schulte 1-5, Deters 0-2, Heiman 0-1, Holthaus 0-1); WC 6-17 (Daily 3-7, L. Schemm 0-1, Klinge 1-5, Warner 0-1, Allen 0-1, Montes 2-2). Total fouls — B&B 18, WC 19. Fouled out — none.
Rebounds — B&B 22 (Haug 7); WC 19 (K. Gfeller 4). Turnovers — B&B 19, WC 5.