DODGE CITY — Although disappointed, members of the Otis-Bison High School boys’ basketball weren’t going to let the sting of Thursday’s loss bother them for long.
The sixth-seeded Cougars gave No. 3 Hartford quite the battle Thursday at United Wireless Arena in the first round of the Class 1A Division II state tournament, but Hartford prevailed in a nail-gnawing game, 49-46 in overtime.
For a team that wasn’t even ranked in the preseason, the young Cougars proved they belonged.
“It’s been really fun,” Otis-Bison coach Curtis Little said. “We only have two seniors, and one started. We had a lot of young guys, so this was new for everybody. We had three sophomores play a bunch, so this was a new experience. I was proud of how they responded.”
It was a tight, tense game throughout. The biggest lead was seven points, an early 13-6 lead for Otis-Bison. There were 10 lead changes and eight ties.
Both teams hit big shots late. Otis-Bison’s Maitland Wiltse hit a 3-pointer with 48 seconds left in regulation that gave the Cougars a 39-36 lead. But with five seconds left, Dalen Kistner tied it 40-40 and sent the game to overtime.
The lead changed three times in the extra session.
“We’ve put a lot of time into late-game situations,” Little said. “It was cool to see those guys execute.”
Finally, with 1:02 left, Hartford took the lead for good on Danen Kistner’s basket, giving the Jaguars a 47-46 lead.
Central Christian 60
DODGE CITY — Although the Wheatland-Grinnell High School boys’ basketball team couldn’t simulate Central Christian’s Nate Heneha in practice, coach Brendan Ptacek knew what was coming.
Ptacek even thought the Thunderhawks — senior Cory Prewo in particular — defended Heneha well. And yet, Heneha finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and five steals in Central Christian’s 60-50 win in the first round of the Class 1A Division II state tournament at United Wireless Arena.
“He’s every bit what I thought he’d be,” Ptacek said. “And I thought Prewo defended him well. He hit shots, and I didn’t think he was open on any of them. He played well. He’s just a good player.”
Heneha had 22 first-half points, as Central Christian built a 31-27 halftime lead. That lead swelled to 45-30 midway through the third quarter.
But for nearly eight minutes, Wheatland-Grinnell gave it a chance to come back. From the 2:56 mark of the third quarter until 3:27 remained in the game, the Thunderhawks held Central Christian to nine points.
But the Thunderhawks only managed to lop five points off that 15-point deficit.
“We got exactly what we needed. We got some stops,” Ptacek said. “We needed some scoring, and we would go dormant.”
Jorge Esparza led Wheatland-Grinnell with 14 points as the Thunderhawks finished 14-10.