A strong year for basketball around the area was highlighted by Class 1A Division II state championships from the Northern Valley boys and the Quinter girls.
Northern Valley claimed its first state title since 1991 and fourth in school history, capping a 25-1 season with a 63-52 win over Elyria Christian in the final at Dodge City.
“This feels really good,” Northern Valley coach Chuck Fessenden said following the title game. “We had to beat a pretty good team. They’re tough. We came through at the right time, I guess.”
The Quinter girls notched their first state title in school history with a dramatic 46-44 win over Hartford in the final, finishing the season 20-5.
“I’ve been around these girls for so long, just so excited for ’em,” Quinter coach Matt Havlas told The Dodge City Globe. “It’s just a dream come true. It’s been a long time since third-grade. It’s bittersweet. I lose my seniors. I’ve had ’em for so long but what a way to go out: state champions. It’s just unbelievable.”
The state championships for the Huskies and the Bulldogs is the No. 4 story on The Hays Daily News sports year in review.
Riley Sides paved the way for the Huskies with 24 points in the title game while Caden Bach added 15 points and Nicholas Stutsman 10.
“We just played with guts and heart and fought to the end. We just wanted it,” Sides said.
Sides earned a first-team spot on The HDN’s All-Area team after averaging 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.2 steals last year as a junior.
The Class 1A Division II girls title game went down to the wire, with Peyton Havlas making the game-deciding free throws with 22.1 seconds left before Quinter came up with a stop in the closing moments to seal it.
“I was fighting back tears,” Matt Havlas said of his daughter making the free throws. “I couldn’t talk in the huddle. For her to be there — she had a rough game (in the semifinals) — but she came back and played hard today.”
Peyton Havlas was a first-team HDN All-Area pick after averaging 12.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in her senior year.
The Phillipsburg boys nearly made it a trio of state champions for the area, falling just short of a 3A championship after Halstead hit a buzzer-beating layup as time expired to take a 44-42 win over the Panthers in the title game in Hutchinson. Phillipsburg finished the year 23-2.