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.