By CONOR NICHOLL
When they were in elementary school, Kristina Farber, Carly Heim and Terran Hoyt saw their older sisters play for coach Shelly Hoyt on the Hoxie High School varsity team. The Indians reached state three straight years with Hoyt, Terran's mother.
"They kind of inspired us to want to play," Farber said.
Approximately 10 years ago, Shelly Hoyt decided to coach Farber, Heim, Hoyt and a group that eventually included Lexi Schamberger and Gabi Spresser.
The players and parents fully bought into Hoyt's system and started to travel the country. Hoyt preached a fast-paced system and strong team chemistry, hallmarks of the Indian high school team.
The girls, throughout elementary, junior high and high school, continually worked hard with weightlifting and practice, even during the summer.
"We just built a really strong love for each other, and it's hard to break apart," Heim said.
At first, Hoxie lost a lot. But the Indians continually improved. Several players, including several who Hoyt believed could have helped in high school, left throughout the years.
The core of Farber, Heim, Hoyt, Spresser, Schamberger, seniors Natasha Allmer and Kelsey Kelch stayed. The parents remained committed to Hoyt, even when it took plenty of time and money to travel.
"I had disgruntled parents in the past, and it makes it difficult to get your team better, and this group of parents, way back when they were in first, second and third grade, they just trusted me with their kids," Coach Hoyt said. "They probably didn't always like what I had to do or say, but they never questioned me out there. The only questions they had for me were, 'What gym are we supposed to show up in, and what time?' They didn't ask why."
The continued support, strong team chemistry and Hoyt's coaching acumen have created one of the great dynasties in Kansas basketball history.
"We got our butts kicked by bigger, better teams," Farber said. "Now, I guess we are the ones doing that."
Hoxie is 100-3 in the last four years and carries a 73-game winning streak into next season, 18 off of the state record set by Little River.
This season, the Indians went 26-0, won their third straight Class 1A Division I state championship and Hoyt earned girls' Coach of the Year honors on the 36th annual Hays Daily News All-Area team.
The junior high squad, which Hoyt also coaches, has won 66 straight contests. Hoyt stands at 399-135 overall, with a 263-58 record at Hoxie. She has won four HDN Coach of the Year honors, '97-98 at Utica and three times at Hoxie ('04-05, '10-11).
"She just always pushes us to be the best that we can be," Heim said. "She knows how much she can get out of us. If we are not giving enough, then she always tells us. She is just really great."
Hoyt coached at Archie (Mo.), Attica and Utica before coming to Hoxie 13 years ago when Jacie, her second-oldest daughter, entered her freshman year with the Indians. Hoxie, long known for its wrestling program, started its success with its youth teams. Hoyt thought, "Why should basketball be any different?" For years, Hoyt has run a little dribblers program for young girls on Sunday.
Hoyt could never get enough girls and parents to buy in to the training, workouts and commitment with her three older daughters, Tabitha, Jacie and Corinna.
She finally did with Terran, currently a sophomore, and her friends.
Jacie, now an assistant coach at NCAA Division I University of Nevada and married to professional baseball player Anthony Capra, still remembers the current group of high schoolers cheering for the Indians in elementary school.
"My mom, no matter if she playing a game of cards or basketball or whatever it is, she is competitive," Capra said. "Even coaching first, second and third graders, she is still going to be competitive. It's kind of something that the kids bought into."
Approximately six years ago, Hoyt, sometimes impatient with things, wanted to leave Hoxie. Her husband, Scott, currently Hoxie's superintendent and who Jacie calls "logical, level-headed" and the family's "rock," talked her out of it.
"I was honestly ready to move on," Hoyt said. "My husband was like, 'Are you kidding me? No. We are supposed to stay here. I am thankful for him."
Hoyt led Hoxie to a Class 2A runner-up showing in 2006 and then replicated the feat in Class 1A Division I when the current senior class was freshmen.
"She was just there for me along, and I knew she always would be," Farber said. "It was really easy to stick with her through everything."
After back-to-back titles, Hoyt's first crowns of her career, Hoxie entered this winter as heavy favorites to win. Hoyt called the season "one of the more different years" because the Indians had to fight complacency each practice. Several times during the season, Hoyt talked to Jacie. During spring break, the Hoyts traveled to Nevada, and Coach Hoyt was already talking about next basketball season.
"She would call me and say, 'I just don't think we are getting better right now,'" Capra said. "'I think we can be a lot better, and I would be like, 'What are you talking about? You just won a game by 40 or 50 points.' ... The best thing about my mom is she never thinks she has all the answers, and she never wants to stop learning. She is always trying to get better."
On the court, Hoyt enjoys scouting and preparing. Capra said her mom will start prepping two to three weeks in advance if there's a difficult opponent upcoming. Hoxie has done well at taking away other team's strengths, including at this year's state tournament.
Against Osborne in the semifinals, Hoxie held Bulldog leading scorer Jessica Princ to four points on five shots. In a 71-51 state title win against Blue Rapids-Valley Heights, Hoxie limited sophomore forward Brandi Jo Roepke, the Mustangs' top player. In the half court, Valley Heights likes to screen across the block, but Hoxie played good defense.
"We were trying to get those screens to get it down into Sidney (Blackburn) and Jo, but they are quick enough to get around those, but that's usually our game plan," Valley Heights coach Jenny Yungeberg said.
Hoyt never discussed the streak throughout the season; Capra and Farber were among those who didn't know the exact number of wins.
In the locker room after the state championship, Hoyt mentioned the streak to let the seniors know of their accomplishments.
"I am just so blessed and thankful to be part of their lives," Hoyt said. "I can't tell you how much this group means to me. It's very bittersweet right now because I am very proud of our team."