HAYS — With defensive efforts like Wednesday’s performance in the Class 2A state tournament opener, the Hutchinson-Trinity boys proved they don’t need an offensive explosion to be able to blow somebody out.
Trinity was just average offensively but exceptional on defense, earning a 49-23 victory over Mission Valley at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Mission Valley went 10 of 34 from the field (29.4 percent) and just 1 of 17 from 3-point range while committing 16 turnovers.
The No. 2-seeded Celtics (21-3) move to Friday’s 4:45 p.m. semifinal to face either Pittsburg-Colgan or McLouth.
“We tend to go ahead and we can shut down people down; it’s kind of been our ammo. We spend quite a bit of time doing it,” Trinity coach Joe Hammersmith said. “Second and third quarters are big for us. We got them to turn the ball over a little bit and got a few easier buckets. It kind of kickstarted us and got us going.
“Other than that, we played OK offensively. I think we had some kids play tight, but then we had some other kids really step up and play well.”
It was tied at 7 late in the first quarter before the Celtics scored the last basket of the frame and then reeled off the first nine points of the second quarter, starting with a fastbreak dunk by Fort Hays State signee Kaleb Hammeke.
Hutch-Trinity outscored Mission Valley 15-3 in the second quarter to take a 24-10 lead into halftime.
“We kind of switched it up a little bit and put some more pressure on them,” Hammersmith said. “A few of our kids got going and we caused them some problems and they were turning the ball over and rushing some shots. Then we could go ahead and get going on the offensive end.”
The Celtics maintained a double-digit lead in the third quarter and took a 30-18 advantage into the fourth before opening up a 20-point lead after a 3-pointer from Alex Hammersmith and five straight points from Hammeke.
Hammeke paced Trinity with 16 points and was joined in double figures by Phillipe Manga’s 10.
Brandon Hittle led Mission Valley with eight points but battled an apparent ankle injury for most of the way after getting the Vikings off to a decent start.
“No excuses but Hittle got hurt in the first quarter and he was the one that started our momentum,” Mission Valley coach Jordan Hysten said. “He’s really been like an all-state player in the last month for us. When he went out, we lost our rhythm offensively, I felt.
“Then we just couldn’t shoot. We just couldn’t get any shots to fall unfortunately, free throws (2 of 7) or from the outside. It just wasn’t our day.”
It was the end of a breakthrough season for Mission Valley, which ended a 31-year state tournament drought. The Vikings finished 17-6.
“We haven’t had a lot of success as a program traditionally,” Hysten said. “We kind of have been building toward this. Finally kind of of broke through to get a state tournament this year. These seniors have really set the tone and hopefully we can keep it going.”