By ERNIE W. WEBB III
Special to the Daily News
EMPORIA - A disappointing performance in 2013 proved to be plenty of motivation for second-seeded Hoxie High School during Wednesday's Class 1A Division I boys' tournament.
One year after the Indians (23-1) shot 28 percent during a 58-42 loss to Stockton in the opening round, they dominated Hartford 71-43 to advance to the semifinals.
"We played like a team on a mission, and the way we played last year was part of that," said Hoxie coach Aaron Dardis. "We didn't shoot all that well in the first half, but we kept playing hard and were much better offensively in the second half."
Third-seeded Hoxie went on a 15-0 run early in the third quarter, building a 31-point lead behind Kade Spresser and Chase Kennedy, who combined for 18 points in the period.
Kennedy, who struggled mightily during a 2-for-21 night against Stockton last season, had 10 points in the frame, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"I'm really proud of Chase; he stayed with it," Dardis said. "Even if we struggled a bit on offense in the first half, we kept rebounding and playing defense."
Hoxie's defense flustered Hartford (10-14) all night. The Jaguars shot 33 percent, committed 18 turnovers and were outrebounded 39-29. Hartford went more than five minutes without a field goal during the decisive third quarter.
"We played really well on defense," Dardis said. "We're playing really well, with a purpose."
Spresser had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Connor Katt added 16 points and five boards. Kennedy had 14 points and nine assists.
Lane Ikerd led the Jaguars with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Clayton Fowler 18 points.