Tigers have senior night tonight
By CONOR NICHOLL
On Feb. 8, Fort Hays State University senior Katelyn Edwards missed the first game -- and first start -- in her three-year Tiger career. Edwards injured her knee in a Feb. 5 road victory at University of Nebraska-Kearney and then missed the 80-77 road loss to Emporia State University three days later.
Before the ESU game, a couple of players came over to Edwards and asked how she was doing. Tiger coach Tony Hobson received texts from three MIAA coaches regarding Edwards and a few others sent notes. A couple days after the defeat, Hobson came into the Fort Hays basketball offices and had a card from Emporia State coach Jory Collins, who was impressed with Edwards and the Tigers.
"I have never had that happen before," Hobson said. "She is a class act, and a competitive girl who just loves to mix it up and compete. You can't replace a kid like that. You just hope you get to coach one like her once in awhile."
Tonight, Edwards and the rest of the Fort Hays seniors have senior night in the regular season finale against Northeastern (Okla.) State University (10-14, 7-10 MIAA) at Gross Memorial Coliseum. Start time is 6 p.m. for the women and 8 for the men.
"This year isn't over by any means, but when her time here is finished, she will go down as one of the best, most consistent day in and day out players and one of the classiest," Hobson said.
Edwards and senior forward Tera Ingalsbe are the senior women for the 18-7, 11-7 MIAA Tigers. Fort Hays is receiving votes in the national poll and ranked No. 10 in the Central Region rankings. The Tigers lost 49-48 at NSU on Jan. 18.
"We need someone to lift us up, we go to Kate," junior center Kate Lehman said of Edwards. "It's going to be sad. It's going to be tough without her. She is a rare find, and I am glad that our program has found her. We are not going to find someone like her again. She's irreplaceable."
Edwards, a second team all-league selection two years ago and a third team pick last season, has started 81 of 82 career contests. The ESU game is the only one she has missed in her career. Since the 1997-98 season, Edwards ranks seventh in career starts. A start Friday would tie her for sixth with Katie Rhodes from 2001-05.
Edwards has 1,086 career points and 645 rebounds. In each season, Edwards has averaged between 11.7 and 14.6 points and collected between 7.7 and eight rebounds. Edwards has shot between 43.1 and 49.8 percent every year and 63.2 and 64.3 percent from the foul line.
"She is not only one of the best players ever and when I say best, she doesn't have gaudy numbers, " Hobson said. "But she has scored between 12 and 15 points a game and has between eight and nine rebounds a game for three straight years. She brings it every day."
Brunson, Konrade lead men's senior class
On Wednesday, senior forward Dwayne Brunson and senior guard Carson Konrade had contests that exemplified their careers. Brunson finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds and made a key steal late. Konrade finished with 14 points, including 4 of 6 from long range. His last 3, with 85 seconds left, was crucial in an eventual 80-79 victory against University of Central Oklahoma.
"Dwayne gave great effort tonight," coach Mark Johnson said. "I was really proud of him. To me, he played like a guy with a sense of urgency kind of coming down to your last week at Gross Coliseum."
The Tigers, receiving votes in the national poll and ranked No. 6 in the Central Region, moved to 22-5, 13-5 MIAA. Brunson has 963 points in two seasons and averages 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds this winter. Konrade has tallied 13 points a night and shot 49.7 percent from 3-point range, currently third best in Tiger annals.
"As it winds down, every now and then, you take it for granted, because you come here and you practice everyday," Johnson said.
"I think as it comes down to the end, you start to appreciate that you have gotten to play in Gross Coliseum. Obviously as good of a facility as there is in Division II."
Senior reserve forwards Andrew Victoria and Marty Wendel -- who have played key roles in various games this season -- and senior guard Chase Waldman will also celebrate Senior Night. Fort Hays won 79-65 at Northeastern State (13-11, 8-9 MIAA) on Jan. 18. Senior Bryton Hobbs leads the MIAA with 22.8 points per contest.
"Really run a lot of motion, gave us problems at their place trying to guard them," Johnson said. "It would just be a letdown, I think in some ways, in coming off the tremendous win (Wednesday) and not close the week out."