MANHATTAN — This was one game where neither team was happy after the final horn sounded.
The Garden Plain boys rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final 2:10, ending the game on a 10-0 run for a 50-47 victory over Hoxie in the opening round of the Class 2A state tournament on Thursday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Shortly after the game, players from both teams were informed by their coaches that the Kansas State High School Activities Association had canceled the remainder of the tournament due to coronavirus concerns.
Instead of advancing to Friday's tournament semifinals, Garden Plain ends its season at 19-5.
"They work so hard and every day they came in and worked and worked," Garden Plain coach Antwan Seymore said. "Playing in the state tournament was their goal. They dreamed of it and put in the time.
"To have it all slip away without even knowing it, it was hard to tell them. It was the hardest thing I've had to do in my coaching career."
Although's KSHSAA's decision was announced at approximately 8:30 p.m. while the final game was still in the first quarter of play, the players did not learn the news until after the contest.
"I heard the news while walking down the hallway at halftime," Hoxie coach Jake Moss said. "There were some tournament workers talking about it and that was a tough time to hear it.
"The kids didn't know until after the game and they were able to go out and leave it all on the floor."
Down by eight points early in the third quarter, Hoxie not only cut into that deficit but took a 39-38 lead on Brady Jones 3-pointer to end the third.
The Indians opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run, leading 47-40 after a bucket from Harlan Obioha basket with 2:30 to play. It was the final points of the game for Hoxie.
"The first half we didn't play with the energy that we had all year," Moss said. "At halftime we told them they had 16 more minutes and let's provide some fireworks for the last game of the night. They did that for 14 minutes.
"But pressure is something we've struggled with this year. This was valuable experience and will be huge down the road."
Garden Plain's Matthew Pauly got the rally started and had seven of his team's final 10 points. A bucket by Arden Rex got the game tied with 1:10 to play, and Pauly made 1 of 2 free throws with 17 seconds remaining to put the Owls in front.
"This is something they've been capable of all season," Seymore said. "The good thing about this group is they never quit and it showed tonight.
"They persevered. They just want to be great. They just want to be good and they want respect."
Hoxie (21-3) had a chance to regain the lead but a shot from 15 feet out bounced off the rim. Garden Plain pulled down the rebound and Pauly hit two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining. Forced to go the length of the court, the Indians didn't get a final shot attempt.
Obioha, a 6-11 junior, had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Hoxie. Senior Parker Jones had 10 points and eight rebounds.
"We were very lucky to have the players we have," Moss said. "We only had two seniors and it was the first year our for (Wylie Weems). Parker Jones was a four-year player who put in a lot of work. I'm very glad they got to end their careers on this floor."