Dighton hands Palco tough loss to end season
Published on -3/3/2013, 5:02 PM
PALCO — Palco high school boys’ basketball coach Chris Dress took the final loss of the season Saturday especially hard.
“When you invest a lot it makes losing a lot harder,” said Drees, whose Roosters fell 57-52 in the Class 1A Division II sub-state championship game, a win shy of the state tournament.
Palco (13-9) was coming off a 68-59 overtime win against Ransom-Western Plains the night before, a game in which Drees said his team struggled offensively at times.
“My kids knew they were going to have to come in to this game and play a lot better than they did in the last one and they did,” Drees said. “It was just mental errors late. We were ready to go.”
Dighton (16-7) ran its offense methodically, finding open looks on nearly every possession.
“We played a good inside game and a good outside game. We handled the pressure,” Dighton coach Earl Steffens said. “I thought our kids did a marvelous job.”
Palco had no answer for Dighton senior Dirk Torson in the first half. He scored 11 of his 15 points before the break.
In the second half, the Roosters switched to a 2-3 zone to close down the lane.
Fortunately for Palco, it worked, and caused two straight Dighton turnovers to start the third quarter. It did, however, leave the outside open, and Dighton capitalized with three straight 3-pointers on its next three possessions to build an eight-point lead.
“The third quarter killed us,” Drees said. “The three 3-pointers they hit were daggers, and it seemed like we just couldn’t come back from that.”
“We played against zones and man during the season and we have different offenses for what ever they run,” Steffens said. “What ever they do we just adjust to it.”
Palco sophomore Brent Gehring scored the first four points of the third quarter on two quick buckets, but was unable to find the basket the rest of the quarter.
The Hornets had a seven-point lead going into the fourth, before a Gehring 3 cut the lead to two early in the fourth.
“We were always trying to make up the points and every time we tried to make a run they answer right back, which is what good teams do,” Drees said.
Dighton, the No. 7 ranked team in Division II, went on a 9-4 run through the next five minutes, including a two-minute two-minute scoreless drought for the Roosters.
“All our kids hit the key shots when we needed them. They just came to play in this one,” Steffens said.
Gehring was the only Rooster in double digits with 21 points. He also added seven rebounds.
Senior Chase Newell chipped in nine. Seniors Alex Benoit and Seth Armbrister both finished with six, while Armbrister grabbed a team-high 12
Dighton’s offense was much improved from their performance a night before in the semifinals game against Northern Valley. The Hornets shot 47 percent from the field against Palco compared to 31 percent against Northern Valley.
“We came in and played the type of game we are capable of playing,” Steffens said. “Last game we couldn’t hit anything, it was a whole lot better this game.”
Senior Ryan Kuhlman was a key component in Dighton’s semifinal win against Northern Valley with 32 points, while Junior Isaac Alinor struggled, scoring only 3 points.
Palco held Kuhlman to just six points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field in the championship game, but had no answer for Alinor, who scored 15 and grabbed six rebounds.
“Kuhlman is a four-year starter, Alinor is a three-year starter and they know what to do, they handle pressure, they are just like coaches on the floor,” Steffens said.
“We had a hard time with Alinor, he was shooting at will and making a bunch,” Drees said. “The scouting reports I got said they go how he goes and they went how he went.”
Dighton will have the No. 6 seed in this week's 1A Division II finale in Hays. The Hornets will play White City (19-3) on Thursday at 8:15 p.m. in Gross Memorial Coliseum.