EMPORIA — The Class 1A-Division I state tournament championship game on Saturday at White Auditorium in Emporia was exactly what a basketball fan wants from a championship game.
The Macksville High School boys’ basketball team and South Haven raced neck-and-neck with neither team leading by more than nine points.
With 48.1 seconds remaining in regulation, the game was tied at 56.
“They fought, they fought and they fought,” Macksville head coach Jeff Kuckelman said. “But I think our kids fought too, and that’s what it takes to win a state championship. That’s what a state championship should be.”
Kyle Bunker hit a couple of free throws on two separate trips to the line and Adam Oak sealed the 59-56 state title game win for the Mustangs with a steal with six seconds left
The Mustangs, ranked No. 3 in the final Kansas Basketball Coaches Association poll, trailed 45-41 going into the fourth quarter.
Bunker, who finished the game and his high school career with a mammoth 33 points and 14 rebounds, raked in a three-point play at the 7:21 mark to give Macksville a 47-45 lead.
“We talked about going in, we knew he was a big matchup problem for them,” Kuckelman said. “I mean, to exploit that. I thought we did a good job of that. I think maybe he got a little tired in the stretch there. That slowed us down a bit, and they made a run.
“They kept coming back at you. We kept getting control and they just kept coming. That’s credit for them and their coach.”
Seth Filbert, who finished with six points in the game, hit a 3-pointer to give Macksville a 48-47 lead.
That sparked a six minute period where both teams held a lead and it was also tied four times, the fourth time coming with 48.1 seconds left on the clock.
Bunker crashed into the paint, missed his layup, but was fouled. At the free-throw line, he missed the first shot but made the second to give Macksville a 57-56 lead with 31.4 seconds remaining
“The plan was (that) we were going to try to get it inside and get as many touches as we could,” Bunker said. “If we could get touches and movement, then our outside shots were going to get open looks. So the plan going in was to try to get some touches.”
No. 8-ranked South Haven put the ball in the hands of Austin Showman, who missed a 3 with 10.2 seconds left.
Bunker was fouled again. This time he hit the front end of a one-and-one to put the Mustangs ahead 58-56 at the 6.0 mark.
South Haven came down with the rebound, but Oak was there to steal a pass. The Cardinals fouled Oak with 1.7 seconds left in the game.
“I was just thinking hold on to the ball,” Kuckelman said. “Take care of it until, I knew they were going to foul him. You know, I was just hoping they would call a foul and he would get to shoot free throws and get it knocked away.”
Oak hit the front end of his one-and-one and Bunker got a hand on the rebound, knocking the ball to the other end of the court and ending the game.
“At that moment I was just trying to run away from everybody and get the clock to run out,” Oak said. “I knew we had it at that point. I knew it was in the bag.”
Macksville will graduate two seniors — Bunker and 6-foot-5 post player Derek Bevan.
“They stepped up,” Kuckelman said of his two seniors. “We knew they were going to be matchup problems for them. They rose to the challenge tonight. Both of them did a great job. They’re going to be sorely missed. You can’t replace guys like that.
“You also can’t replace 6-6 and 6-5. So we’ll have our work cut out for us. The biggest thing about it is they are great kids. We’re going to miss them.”
Bevan nearly finished with a double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring nine points.
“We’ve been looking forward to this our whole lives, me and Kyle,” Bevan said. “We’ve always wanted to do this for the past three years and we finally got it done this year. It feels great.”
TOURNEY NOTES — This week marked Macksville’s third consecutive trip to the state tournament. … The Mustangs entered the state championship on Saturday on a 22-game winning streak, having encountered their only loss of the regular season back on Dec. 10 at the Gene Keady Preseason Invitational in Larned against Hoisington. … Kuckelman has guided the Mustangs to the state tournament six times in his nine years, winning it all in 2006 and now five years later.
CLASS 1A-DIVISION I
Macksville 59, South Haven 56
Adolfo Ibarra 0 0-0 0, Jorge Baray 1 0-0 3, Kyle Bunker 13 7-11 33, Seth Filbert 2 0-0 6, Adam Oak 2 1-2 7, Taylor Tranbarger 0 1-2 1, Derek Bevan 4 1-1 9, Efrain Lopez 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 10-16 59.
SOUTH HAVEN (23-3)
Nick Creed 1 3-4 5, Jarod Young 8 0-0 20, Blake Wilkey 4 2-6 11, Austin Showman 4 0-0 9, Coltin Dvorak 0 0-0 0, Andrew Lowe 3 1-2 9, Bryce Byers 1 0-0 2, Hunter Ray 0 0-0 0, Lane Cully 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 6-12 56.
South Haven 12 11 22 11 — 56
Macksville 9 17 15 18 — 59
Three-point goals — Macksville 5 (Oak 2, Filbert 2, Baray); South Haven 8 (Young 4, Lowe 2, Wilkey, Showman).