BY JIM MISUNAS
Great Bend’s Brock Blessing is quiet, humble and unassuming off the court.
But he transformed into a defensive Superman on the basketball court. He drew 30 offensive fouls to break the Kansas high school state record. Blessing broke the record against the Goddard Lions Feb. 26 in the first round of 5A postseason play.
The Panthers' student crowd celebrated the record by lifting Blessing on their shoulders for an impromptu photo.
"They all knew I was close to the record. But we knew it could be our last game," Blessing said. "That was a special moment."
Salina South’s Austin Jensen held the prior state record in 2017-2018 with 27 offensive charges drawn.
Great Bend basketball coach Tim Brooks said Blessing enjoyed the rare ability to quickly assess what he needed to do to draw an offensive foul.
“Brock had great instincts and read the way his offensive guy played,” Brooks said. “Brock took great pride in watching film and seeing tendencies. He anticipated so well. Brock got our team the basketball 30 times because of what he did defensively.”
Probably 67% of Blessing’s charging fouls were defending his player, the others with help defense.
"I knew all about the WAC players," Blessing said. "It helped a lot watching film. I could see their tendencies and how they like to drive the basketball."
Brooks’ primary decision was who Blessing would match up against.
“Who Brock guarded was always the first thing I thought of. A lot depended on who we played,” Brooks said. “The nice thing is Brock had the ability to defend a guard on the perimeter or a player who posted up. We’d look up and the guard would have two fouls. He would anticipate a post-up move and draw a charge inside. Brock took pride in what he was doing defensively.”
Blessing’s first goal was breaking the school record of 18 charging fouls drawn by Konnor Ireland.
"When I broke Konnor's record, we looked up the state record and thought 'no way, am I getting there.' But I inched up and finally thought it was possible at the end of the season."
Brooks said Blessing breaking a state record was a pleasant surprise.
“I’m not even sure anyone knew what the state record was when the season started,” Brooks said. “We noticed last year Brock was very good at drawing charges.”