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Greeley County, Lebo make boys finals at Great Bend


KSHSAA Covered

As he watched his team bury shot after shot in the first half, the law of averages told Lebo coach Dennis Becker that his sizzling Wolves would probably cool off at some point during Friday’s state semifinal against Axtell. 

“The only thing going through my mind was when is it going to stop and how much of a brick wall is it going to be when we hit that point?” Becker said. 

That point didn’t occur until after halftime, and by the time it did, the Wolves had already opened up a huge lead. 

Lebo shot a blistering 69.5% (16 of 23) and scored 42 points in the first half to build a 23-point advantage at the break en route to a 68-52 victory at Barton Community College.

Just as he did to end the first quarter, Landon Grimmett hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to bookend the dominant half that carried the Wolves (17-7) into the Class 1A Division II final, where they will meet reigning champion Greeley County (23-1) at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. 

The Lebo boys’ victory capped Friday’s slate of semifinal games after the Lebo girls had just secured their spot in the championship game with a 52-37 win over Bucklin. 

“I can’t even put it into perspective,” first-year head coach Becker said of both teams being in the finals. “Lebo knew coming in that we had a chance to do this. I don’t think many other people around the state thought the same way. 

“To show the rest of the state what we do in Lebo, Kansas, tt’s pretty remarkable.”

So was Grimmett's performance. 

A night after Lebo junior Grayson Shoemaker poured in 30 in the quarterfinals against Beloit-St. John’s/Tipton, Grimmett erupted for 32 points. He shot 9 of 13 from the field, 5 of 7 from 3-point range and 9 of 11 from the foul line. 

Grimmett fueled the Wolves’ huge first half, scoring 19 before halftime with five 3-pointers. 

“He’s a senior that wants to go out on top, and he’s playing that way,” Becker said. “He had a big night (18 points in the quarterfinals), he was just overshadowed by the fact that Grayson had (30). We knew that they were going to probably try and take away Grayson because of that game last night, and Landon said, ‘Give me the ball and I’m going to make something happen.’”

Becker also credited the play of sophomore post player Zach Oswald, who scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Wolves.

“He’s been a huge part of our success all year round,” Becker said. “He just hunkered down in there. He grabs every rebound that comes his way, and he scores on top of it.”

Lebo finished 21 of 37 from the floor while Axtell was 20 of 53. 

The Eagles put together a few spurts in the second half but never got closer than 13. They will play South Central for third place at 2 p.m. Saturday. 

Senior Isaac Detweiler and sophomore Brandon Schmelzle scored 13 and 12, respectively, for Axtell (20-5). Detweiler also had nine rebounds.

The Lebo' boys are back in the state title game for the first time since 2005. The Wolves are looking for their second state championship in program history, winning in 1988. 

Greeley County's Lincoln Shafer 

GREELEY COUNTY 64, SOUTH CENTRAL 41 – The Jackrabbits were sharp on both ends of the floor to move one win away from a successful title defense. 

Greeley County (23-1) started hot to build a 17-5 lead by the end of the first quarter and later pushed a 14-point halftime lead to a 23-point advantage heading into the fourth after shooting 69% in the third quarter. 

Senior star Jaxson Brandl scored 26 points and added nine rebounds, six steals and four assists. 

The Jackrabbits were 11 of 21 from deep, with seven different players hitting 3s. 

“Defense is the main point,” Greeley County coach Josh Gooch said. “I try to convince the kids not to focus on their shot. If they can focus on their defense, their offense will take care of itself. 

“It’s such a mental game. When they don’t think about it, things open up. I just hope there’s not a lid on the basket (Saturday) with how well they shot the ball today.”

Greeley County’s pressure yielded 15 steals and forced South Central into 21 turnovers. 

“They all have a very high basketball IQ,” Gooch said. “They know where that next pass is going to go, they know when they’re dribbling if they’re going to spin. All of them just have a great knack for the ball and know where to be.”

Jariath Yanez joined Brandl in double figures with 12 points off the bench. 

South Central was led by Jamie Sarmiento’s 14 points while Gavin Uhl added 12. The Timberwolves (17-8) will play South Central for third place at 2 p.m. Saturday. 

Greeley County captured the state title in the most thrilling way imaginable last year, upsetting Hanover at the buzzer on a 3-pointer from Lincoln Shafer. The Jackrabbits entered this year's tournament as the favorite after being ranked No. 1 in Class 1A Division II all season long. 

“It feels great, but I try to keep it just like last year, just tell the guys, ‘This is game 25, we expected to be here. Let’s just go win game 25 like last year. The target’s on our back, just like it was Hanover’s, so we got to take care of business,’” Gooch said. 

South Central 5 12 14 10 – 41

Greeley County 17 14 23 10 – 64

SOUTH CENTRAL (17-8)– Sarmiento 6-12 0-0 14, Prusa 0-5 0-0 0, Herd 3-6 1-1 7, Uhl 3-6 6-7 12, Howell 1-3 0-0 2, Jellison 2-3 0-0 6, Herzer 0-0 0-1 0, Pauly 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-36 7-9 41. 

GREELEY COUNTY (23-1)—Shafer 2-5 1-2 6, Sherer 2-5 0-0 6, Schneider 2-3 0-0 5, Villalobos 1-4 0-0 3, Jaxson Brand 10-14 4-5 26, Felty 1-1 0-2 3, Janez 4-9 2-2 12, Chanez 1-1 0-0 3, Totals 23-42 7-11 64. 
3-point goals–SC 4-9 (Sarmiento 2-3, Jellison 2-3, Prusa 0-2, Pauly 0-1). Greeley County 11-21 (Sherer 2-3, Brandl 2-3, Yanez 2-5, Shafer 1-4, Schneider 1-1, Villalobos 1-3, Felty 1-1, Chanez 1-1). Rebounds–SC 23 (Uhl 6), 21 (Brandl 9). Assists – SC 4 (Prisa 2), GC 18 (Shafer 5). Turnovers–SC 21, GC 13. Fouls–SC 16, GC 12.

Lebo 19 23 8 18 – 68

Axtell  12 7 11 22 – 52

LEBO (17-7) – Grimmett 9-13 9-11 32, Davies 0-1 2-3 2, Shoemaker 4-9 0-1 8, Bailey 3-5 3-5 9, Oswald 4-7 5-6 13, Smith 0-0 0-2 0, Hasenclever 0-0 1-1 1, Risner 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 21-37 20-29 68. 
AXTELL (20-5) – Grad. Buessing 2-2 0-0 4, Broxterman 1-13 2-2 5, Detweiler 5-10 3-3 13, C. Shaughnessy 2-6 2-2 8, Schmelzle 5-11 2-4 12, Schmitz 4-9 0-0 8, G. Shaughnessy 1-2 0-0 2, Totals 20-53 9-11 52. 
3-point goals–Lebo 6-10 (Grimmett 5-7, Risner 1-2, Shoemaker 0-1). Axtell 3-18 (C. Shaughnessy 2-5, Broxterman 1-11, Schmelzle 0-1, Schmitz 0-1). Rebounds – Lebo 31 (Davies 7, Oswald 7), Axtell 24 (Detweiler 9). Assists – Lebo 9 (Shoemaker 4), Axtell 8 (Detweiler 4). Turnovers – Lebo 15, Axtell 10. Total fouls – Lebo 15, Axtell 23. Fouled out – Detweiler, Schmelzle.