DODGE CITY — An aggressive zone defense and timely shots down the stretch helped the Stockton boys knock out top-seeded Berean Academy in the first round of the Class 1A state tournament on Wednesday at United Wireless Arena.
Stockton held the previously unbeaten Warriors to 11 of 38 from the field and 9 of 24 from 3-point range in the Tigers’ 38-33 upset win.
"We watched their sub-state championship game," Stockton coach Kyle Fox said. "St. Paul started out man, and it looked like Berean Academy really attacked their man well. When they went to a zone, it seemed like St. Paul was able to get back into it.
"We thought we might have some success with zone, and so that’s what we went with. It worked out for us tonight."
Berean (25-1) went a staggering 2 of 14 from the field in the first half, trailing Stockton 16-7 at the break.
"We didn’t shoot the ball well early, and I felt like we didn’t move the ball well good," Berean coach Lewis Wiebe said. "I felt like we didn’t exert ourselves defensively, especially in the first half, like we needed to get ourselves going."
Berean finally found an offensive rhythm in the third quarter, outscoring the Tigers 14-4 to take a 21-20 lead.
The Warriors grabbed a four-point lead early in the fourth, but the momentum swung back to Stockton on one play.
Stockton senior guard Trevor Miller was fouled while making a 3-pointer and hit the free throw to tie it up at 24 with 5:40 left. The Tigers regained the lead on two throws from Troy Rogers, and Ethan Means’ 3-point play gave Stockton a five-point lead.
"I think that’s better than we’ve responded most of the year," Fox said. "I was really happy with how the guys fought through adversity there and came back and retook the lead."
The Warriors were still within three in the closing moments but Chase Wiebe missed a deep 3 with about 15 seconds left and Stockton iced it with free throws.
Stockton (15-11) advanced to Friday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinal to face Coldwater South Central.
"Being the eight seed, I think we were able to play loose," Fox said. "I think the pressure was on them tonight. We told our guys it was just another game — go out and play and have fun, and that’s what they did.
"It’s huge because we get to play two more games and we’re guaranteed a state placing. But we’re not satisfied. We’d like to win it all so we’ll keep working."
Ethan Means led the Tigers with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Chase Wiebe scored a game-high 16 points for Berean.