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Hoxie missing Spresser

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Hoxie High School junior Kade Spresser, one of Kansas' top players, went down with a severe ankle injury at the end of the first quarter in the Indians' 61-49 loss to Dighton on Dec. 7 in the semifinals of the Castle Rock Classic in Quinter.

At first, the coaches thought Spresser broke his ankle and would miss the rest of the year, but coach Aaron Dardis said Spresser is likely to return sometime this season.

Spresser's injury is one of several significant changes for Hoxie, a team that finished third in Class 1A, Division I at 20-5 last season. The Indians have started slowly this winter and are 3-3 after a 42-40 loss to Atwood-Rawlins County on Friday night.

"It looks like it's not broken, just tore the ligaments," Dardis said. "He is in a boot and has been on crutches, and he will be like that for awhile and hoping to have him back sometime after Christmas break, but we don't know when yet, it kind of depends on how it heals. At this point, we think that it is a possibility that he will be able to come back."

Last year, Hoxie often just went six players deep. However, the Indians had plenty of talent, including seniors Jaxsen Moss and Luke Friess, Spresser and point guard Chase Kennedy. Moss, a second team all-state player in Class 1A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, and Friess have graduated.

Spresser averaged 13.8 points per contest for a team that tallied 59 points a night. This year, Spresser has tallied a team-high 18.3 points per game and averaged five rebounds and 1.7 steals a contest.

"He does so much for us," Dardis said. "People see how he scores. That's just part of it. He is one of our best defenders, so we lose that, and he is a great leader for our team. You take all three of those facets away and it's been a pretty big void, but at the same time, it's kind of been good for some of the guys, because more minutes and expanded roles. Ask them to do things they haven't done before. We are trying to use it as a way to grow as a team, to be honest."

Kennedy has averaged 16 points, 5.3 rebounds and a team-high three assists in the team's most recent statistical release.

"Chase is smart enough to know that he is going to have to take more of a burden onto his shoulders," Dardis said. "Both leadership and being aggressively offensively. He has done a good job with it."

Against Dighton, Hoxie led 16-12 after the first quarter and played the Hornets to a 15-15 second quarter score. Dardis believed his team reacted well to the injury. After intermission, Dighton outscored Hoxie 34-18 in the second half.

"I thought we grew a lot as a team," Dardis said. "We had ups and downs, and it wasn't all pretty, but it was a good experience for us."

Following the loss, Hoxie defeated Atwood 61-50 in the third-place game at Castle Rock and then beat WaKeeney-Trego 56-48 before the two-point loss to Atwood. Mutliple Indians could play leading roles without Spresser. Hoxie has just one senior, 5-foot-10 Cameron Nelson, a reserve. In the Trego victory, sophomore Josh Heim played well. Junior Tyler Kaus, sophomore Connor Katt and sophomore Tyler Ewers are among key players, too.

"A kid who always plays hard, but is mainly a role player and he came up big for us when he really needed it, and he gave us 18 points and some clutch free throws," Dardis said of Heim.