LARNED — The Hoisington High School boys’ basketball team led for nearly 28 of the 32 minutes in its Class 3A sub-state second-round game on Friday night.
But it was Holcomb who took the lead late in the game and the Cardinals were unable to climb back, losing 69-56.
“I was real pleased with the first half,” Hoisington head coach Kyle Haxton said. “I thought we played intelligent basketball, put the pressure on them a little bit. They had a tough time handling our pressure early on. I don’t know exactly what went wrong late in the third quarter. I don’t know if we got tired, but it just seemed to start going their way. When it went their way, it really went their way.”
With eight minutes left, it was anyone’s game with the score tied at 44.
At the 5:34 mark, Cardinals post player Cody Stetler hit a pair of free throws to give Hoisington a 50-47 lead. That would be the last lead the Cards would have.
Holcomb unleashed a 13-0 run from 4:36 to 2:01. Aaron Hernandez began the run by hitting the second of two free throws.
“In the first half, we were playing like Hoisington Cardinals basketball plays,” junior Derrick Kaiser said. “We were sharing the ball, playing like a team and then in the second half, we came out and didn’t wake up fast enough.”
Shane Bennett scored six points in the run, including a pair of layups and a pair of free throws. Nolan Geade, who finished with 12 points, scored the go-ahead jumper at 3:59.
Stetler, who led the Cardinals with a game-high 27 points, interrupted the run with a shot under the basket. Stetler was fouled but failed to complete the 3-point play, leaving Hoisington down 60-52 with 1:39 remaining.
“Stetler inside,” Kaiser said. “We’re going to have to work with him more. I mean, he’s just a great player. We’re just going to have to step it up next year and take care of business.”
The Cards got the ball back after Holcomb was called for traveling, but Stetler was unable to get the ball through the hoop and the Longhorns recovered the rebound.
Hoisington began to foul with 3:30 remaining, but Holcomb was able to sink 13 of 16 free throws down the stretch for 81.2 percent. The Longhorns were led in scoring by Tyler LaSalle, who scored 19 points. LaSalle went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, hitting all of his free throws in the final eight minutes.
“They hit free throws after we missed ours,” Haxton said of his team’s 9 of 19 from the line for 47.3 percent. “We missed three front ends of one-and-ones, and you know, it ended up being their six points near the end of the fourth quarter. It would never have gotten to that point if we had made our free throws.
“They picked up the pressure. You’ve got to give them some credit.”
The Cardinals graduate six seniors, including three starters - Ryan Bieberle, Brady Demel, Luke Becker, Dustin Broeder, George Tombaugh and Jordan Mooney.
“Bieberle and Demel as our one and two guards, they’ve been varsity basketball players for several year, and they are going to be greatly missed,” Haxton said. “As is Luke Becker, who has played varsity basketball since his sophomore year. These guys were here when we were 4-17 and struggling to win games. They were a big part of everything changing for us.
“Dustin Broeder started as a sophomore and he comes off the bench as a senior. (He has) just an incredible heart and muscle, just a tough kid and a great leader for us. All of them are going to be missed.”
The six seniors combine for 30.5 points per game this season.
“First of all, I want to say our seniors, I mean, they are the best seniors any team could have,” Kaiser said. “They work hard everyday. They push our young kids to work harder and get better. We’re going to miss our seniors.”
The two teams traded leads briefly in the second quarter, with Holcomb climbing ahead for the first time with 4:22 remaining in the first half, 24-22.
Stetler reclaimed the lead for the Cardinals with a 3-point play with four minutes before halftime.
With 3:48 left, Holcomb’s Andrew Homer hit a jumper to make it 26-25 in the Longhorns’ favor.
It was Stetler again who put Hoisington back on top with a bucket from the post to make it 27-26.
Then Kaiser hit a hot streak for the Cardinals. Kaiser knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing. Then he drove inside for a layup before hitting another 3 with 1:37 left in the half to make it 35-26.
“It was a close game, a couple possession game most of the way,” Haxton said. “We pulled away a little bit and they came back. We were really getting our inside game going which opened up our outside game. These guys have started to figure out that if we start inside, the outside really starts to open up, and we knocked down some shots. Of course, Derrick’s huge for us on the perimeter and the inside. Everywhere on the court defensively, he’s been our catalyst.
“But, you know, we expect those things out of Derrick at this point. He’s done it so many times, we know it’s going to happen. It looks exceptional, I know, but we see it everyday. He does a great job.”
Kaiser completed the game with 14 points, all in the first half.
After what amounted to a 10-0 run for the Cardinals, Holcomb’s Hernandez scored two points to make it 35-28 before heading into the locker rooms at half.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Class 3A Sub-State
Logan Singhuisen 1 0-0 2, Tyler LaSalle 5 9-10 19, Aaron Hernandez 4 2-4 10, Andrew Homer 1 0-2 2, Nolan Geade 5 2-3 12, Kyle Walck 3 1-2 8, Brendan Thomas 1 1-2 3, Heath Tucker 2 0-0 5, Shane Bennett 2 4-6 8. Totals 24 19-29 69.
Ryan Bieberle 1 0-0 2, Cody Stetler 11 5-10 27, Brady Demel 0 0-1 0, Anthony Broeder 0 0-0 0, Jordan Mooney 0 0-0 0, George Tombaugh 0 0-0 0, Derrick Kaiser 5 1-3 14, Luke Becker 2 3-5 7, Taylor Crawford 0 0-0 0, Dustin Broeder 3 0-0 6. Totals 22 9-19 56.
Holcomb 16 12 16 25 — 69
Hoisington 18 17 9 12 — 56
Three-point goals — Holcomb 2 (Walck, Tucker); Hoisington 3 (Kaiser 3).