1A Division II odds and ends
By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN
When Taylor Smith tired of watching basketball during the weekend, he found a safe haven under the press table while his mom was running a video camera above him.
When you're 10 years old, sometimes playing Paper Mario on your Nintendo handheld game onsole is more fun than watching basketball games.
The Wilson fourth-grader might not have realized the significance of the moment. Besides, he has plenty of time to watch the Dragons play these games any time he wants.
That's because his mom, Nissa Smith, was filming live the Wilson High School girls' basketball games from the Class 1A Division II state tournament at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.
Smith, a special education teacher in the Wilson school district, was streaming the Dragons' games over the Internet through the Wilson Telephone Co., and tapes will be available for purchase.
Smith said her oldest daughter, sixth-grader Jordan, usually tapes the games but they decided to have an adult in charge for the state tournament.
The entire Smith family was on hand to see the games live. Smith's husband, Brian, is principal at Wilson High, and their youngest daughter, first-grader Audrey, also was in the crowd.
When the Smiths, and any other Wilson fans for that matter, decide to watch Wilson's 2013 state games, particularly the third-place contest, they will be watching a record-breaking performance. Senior Karlie Steinle hit 19 free throws and scored nearly two-thirds of her team's points (42) and grabbed 18 rebounds in a 77-67 loss to Rexford-Golden Plains. Those 19 free throws broke two state records -- for most free throws in a state tournament game and most free throws in a state tournament (35).
'Bleach Boys' place 3rd again
Twelve years ago, White City's boys qualified for the Class 1A state basketball tournament in Hays, and they decided to come as the "Bleach Boys."
Everyone on the team had their hair bleached blond, and the Huskies went on to finish third at state.
Nick Morgan was a member of that team, and when his younger brother, Sam, qualified for this year's Class 1A Division I season finale, the Huskies decided to do the same as the 2001 squad.
After beating Dighton in the first round and falling to eventual champion Axtell in the semifinals, White City held off Sharon Springs-Wallace County 53-46 in Saturday's consolation finals to take home the third-place trophy -- again.
After White City won its sub-state game to advance to state, parents said team members started talking about bleaching their hair.
Most of the Huskie players are naturally dark haired, so parents said they sometimes had to look at the jersey numbers this weekend to tell them apart.
Only one unbeaten in 1A DII
Axtell's boys, seeded seventh with a 16-8 record, upset three higher-seeded teams to win the 2013 title -- and spoiled one league's bid for a sweep of state championship games.
The Ingalls girls, members of the SPAA-Iroquois Activity Association, completed an undefeated season by beating Norwich in the girls' championship game Saturday.
The Fowler boys, a member of the same league as Ingalls, hoped to do the same, but Axtell's defense prevented that from happening en route to a 65-56 victory over the previously unbeaten Bulldogs.
Axtell's tourney seed was somewhat misleading as the Eagles play in the Twin Valley League in north central Kansas, widely considered one of the toughest small-school leagues in the state.
Cougars star in academics, too
Hutchinson-Central Christian was the first team that Axtell beat, sending the Cougars home early after beating them by five points in Thursday's first round.
Cougar fans came out in full force to celebrate nonetheless.
"It was the first time our boys made it, and we're a little overzealous right now," Jamie Heneha said at a make-shift picnic table in the GMC parking lot.
Heneha, mother of junior player Trey Heneha, and Alice Krehbiel, mother of junior Zac Krehbiel and sophomore Benjamin Krehbiel, headed up a lunch-making party for the team.
Parents and younger members of the Cougar squad were busy packing sack lunches with ham and turkey sandwiches, chips, fruit and water.
One of those helping was freshman Eric Embers. While he didn't get to suit up for the state basketball tourney, Embers could tell his older teammates what to expect from a state experience. Embers was a member of Central Christian's scholars bowl team that won the Class 1A Division II state championship last month in Natoma.