OTIS — No one could’ve imagined that five weeks after Cristen Trapp’s grandmother died, she would deliver the biggest prize in her father’s life — a state basketball tournament trip for Otis-Bison High School.
Cristen and her father, Robert Trapp, were mourning just a few weeks ago when Rozella Trapp died in Sylvan Grove. But Cristen, a 38 percent free throw shooter, clinched the Cougars’ first Class 1A state tournament trip in 27 years with two free throws with five seconds left.
The Cougars’ 28-26 victory over Ingalls High School was tied by Caitlin Schilowsky with 61 seconds left. When Ingalls’ Britlyn Beach missed a shot, Cristen Trapp confidently rebounded the basketball.
The Cougars attacked offensively with Taylor Regan and Lacey Mitchell putting up shots until Trapp somehow found the loose basketball. She was fouled while driving aggressively to the basket.
“When Cristen made those free throws, yes, that was my proudest moment,” coach Trapp said. “It was one of those rare moments when something special happens. When the boys team with my son Trevor playing, made the state tournament, it was a perfect finish.”
The Cougars (18-4) own quality wins over Class 2A state qualifiers Meade and Dighton and a win over 2A substate finalist Kinsley. Standout Taylor Regan enjoyed one of her finest games with a 23-point effort against Meade all-stater Jaylin Stapleton in a shocking 54-51 comeback victory.
“When we beat teams like Meade and Dighton, that showed the girls what they were capable of accomplishing,” Trapp said. “We knew we had a team that could compete for the state tournament. We pride ourselves on a team that takes the basketball to the basket. We want to put pressure on the other team’s defense.”
The Cougars were forced to take a step back when Regan injured an ankle that caused her to miss three games. She’s improved physically heading to Wednesday’s game against Caldwell (15-7) at Dodge City’s United Wireless Arena.
“We’ve had girls step up for us,” Trapp said. “Our defense had to carry us because we knew we wouldn’t score as many points without Taylor for a while. Our defense is our biggest strength.”
The Cougars play a mix of trapping zone defenses.
The Cougars’ momentum was started during volleyball season when they finished with a 28-14 record and third-place finish in Class 1A-Division, the school’s best finish since 1991.
“I could see that confidence build during the volleyball season,” Trapp said. “We’re young in spots, but the girls believe in themselves and I believe in them.”
OTIS-BISON GIRLS, STATE HISTORY (1-4)
1990—Sylvan Grove 55, Otis-Bison 38
1985—Mankato 44, Otis-Bison 36
1976—Otis-Bison 64, Jefferson North 50; Hill City 56, Otis-Bison 38; THIRD PLACE—Maize 56, Otis-Bison 38