The smallest member of the Mid-Continent League, the Stockton boys basketball team occasionally took its lumps during the regular season.
But there’s no doubt those moments also helped prepare the Tigers for a run to a sub-state championship and state berth.
“We play 2A and some 3A schools, so I think playing some of those bigger schools and some of the better competition makes us a little more battle-tested come the playoffs,” Stockton coach Kyle Fox said. “There’s nothing we haven’t seen when it comes to our postseason. We’ve seen everything.”
The Tigers (14-11) will take on top-seeded Berean Academy in the first round of the Class 1A tournament at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dodge City United Wireless Arena.
Stockton’s path to the state included a 44-41 sub-state semifinal win over Central Plains and a 51-33 win over Greeley County in the final.
“I thought we were a little tight to start but then we had a big third quarter, and kind of played more of our style and ended up getting a pretty big win,” Fox said of the Greeley County win.
“We do rely a lot on our zone defense, too.”
Ethan Means leads the Tigers with 14.2 points while Josh Coleman adds 10.2 a game.
“We just try to focus on the little things — not turning the ball over, limiting our opponent to one and done and crashing the offensive boards hard,” Fox said. “We rely a lot on the 3-ball, so if those are falling for us, we’re really hard to beat. Unfortunately, if those aren’t falling then we can be pretty easy to beat.
“We also rely a lot on our zone defense.”
It will be Stockton’s first state appearance in 2015.
“It’s a new experience for them,” Fox said. “I think you’ve just got to tell them to play the style that got us here and know that we’ve played some really good schools throughout our regular season and had some success against some of those schools.
“I just think we’ve got to not get caught up in what (Berean’s) record and just kind of play our game and have confidence in our abilities.”
St. Francis (16-7) drew the No. 7 seed in the Class 1A state tournament and will play Little River (22-3) at 3 p.m. Wednesday.