BY JIM MISUNAS
ROZEL — It’s early, perhaps way too early to consider the amazing boys basketball story that is developing at Pawnee Heights High School. The Tigers have sprinted to a stunning 5-0 start after beating Ransom-Western Plains 97-24 Tuesday.
“We know that feeling. We’d had three years of getting beat with a running clock,” said Pawnee Heights coach Gustavo Flores.
The Tigers are easily the state’s best-kept secret despite their No. 7 ranking in the latest Kansas Basketball Coaches Class 1A Division 2 state rankings.
Flores’ 6-13 Tigers nearly pulled the biggest surprise in the state last year with a last-second substate loss to state-ranked Hutchinson Central Christian.
‘Central Christian was the No. 1 seed and the team realized this can be done,” Flores said.
Returning Class 1A state qualifier Minneola visits Rozel Friday for a SPIAA League opener.
“We are going to see much better basketball teams. We have yet to play a really good basketball team like Minneola,” Flores said. “It’s a state tournament team with experience. So far, we’re handling our success just fine. But you’re always concerned whether your team is getting too comfortable.”
The Tigers are slowly rewriting 44 years of forgettable basketball after the school’s last state basketball trip in 1972. The Pawnee Heights USD 496 school district owns three state basketball championships — 1959 and 1960 at Rozel and 1954 at Burdett.
Flores is anxious to see how the local patrons respond to the school’s best basketball team in recent memory. A victory matches last year’s win total.
‘I’m curious. I’d love to see a packed house,” he said. “If you come, you’ll see a group of determined basketball players who will play a great defensive style. It’s a team that’s finding a way to win basketball games. Even when we were losing, these guys kept trying.”
Flores believes part of the Tigers’ motivation is gathered by staying together through family tragedies the past two years. Spencer and Harrison VanMeter lost their mother Darcey VanMeter to an illness in 2015. Just recently, Dalton’s Hamby’s father, Brett Hamby, died in a car accident Nov. 21, 2016.
“It’s been tough, but these guys are battlers,” he said. ‘They stay together.”
Kade Scott scored 33 points Tuesday. Scott, Spencer VanMeter and Caleb Karst are averaging in double figures for the Tigers.
“Now, the guys understand how to play tough defense, determined halfcourt man-to-man,” Flores said. “I’m totally pleased with their attitude. It’s a pretty level-headed group of young men. They understand how hard they’ve worked to get to this point.”
The Tigers feature two seniors Spencer VanMeter and Ryan Klenke.
“We’re still a young team and it’s nice to see us developing into a basketball program,” Flores said. “I can see the excitement from players at the younger levels.”
Flores had to be persuaded to coach boys basketball when no willing volunteers stepped up.
“It’s gratifying to see the hard work paying off,” Flores said. “We’re closing the gap on the good basketball teams.”
Flores commented about the Tigers' key players in preseason.
“Spencer VanMeter is our team leader vocally and physically,” said Flores. “He can see the floor well, and shoot the ball well.”
• Kade Scott — Leadership, willing to go the extra mile, physical player, improved his range in the off season along with attacking the rim
• Gabe Oddo and Ryan Klenke — defensive threat.
• Caleb Karst — has improved his low-post scoring game. Good athlete.
• Dalton Hamby — Shooter, defensive hustler.
• Kale McCoy — scoring threat, inside-and-out.
• Harrison Vanmeter — role player, shooter, hustler, defense.
PAWNEE HEIGHTS STATE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
1972—A—Bogue 61, Pawnee Heights 59
ROZEL STATE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
1959—BB—Rozel 82, Portis 55; Rozel 59, Prescott 47; Rozel 57, Ada 56 (Championship)
1960—B—Rozel 72, McLouth 57; Rozel 61, Chetopa 45; Rozel 65, Americus 57 (Championship)
1963—BB—Dwight 51, Rozel 49
BURDETT STATE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
1925—B—Deerfield 18, Burdett 17
1954—BB—Burdett 70, Kipp 48; Burdett 48, Simpson 44; Burdett 55, Plevna 47 (Championship)
PAWNEE HEIGHTS ROSTER2—Kade Scott, 6-2, F, so.
3—Kale McCoy, 6-0, F, so.
4—Preston Stonebarger 5-10, fr.
5—Spencer VanMeter, 6-1, PG, sr.
10—Ryan Klenke, 5-7, PG, sr.
11—Gabe Oddo, 6-0, jr.
12—Caleb Karst, 6-0, PG, jr.
13—Harrison VanMeter, 5-10, fr.
14—Trace Baker, 5-10, so.
15—Dalton Hamby, 5-8, G, so.
24—Lane Pywell, 5-10, fr.
25—Sean Peterson, 5-11, fr.
30—Carlos Cordero, 5-8, so.
41—Logan Williams, 6-3, F, so.
PAWNEE HEIGHTS 2016-2017 SCHEDULE
W 61-43 Fowler*
W 68-50 Natoma (Natoma Tournament)
W 59-32 Palco (Natoma Tournament)
W 74-27 Ransom-Western Plains (Natoma Tournament)
W 97-24 Ransom-Western Plains
1-17—at Hodgeman County*
1-20/21—at Spearville, SPIAA Tournament
1-23-28—at Dodge City, SPIAA Tournament
SOUTHERN PLAINS IROQUOIS GIRLS
South Gray 2-0 4-1
Spearville 2-0 4-1
Kiowa County 1-0 5-0
South Central 1-1 4-1
Minneola 1-0 3-2
Fowler 1-1 3-2
Hodgeman County 0-0 3-2
Ingalls 0-1 4-1
Bucklin 0-1 1-3
Ashland 0-1 1-4
Pawnee Heights 0-1 1-4
Satanta 0-2 0-5
SOUTHERN PLAINS IROQUOIS BOYS
South Gray 2-0 5-0
Spearville 2-0 4-1
Pawnee Heights 1-0 5-0
Minneola 1-0 4-1
Kiowa County 1-0 4-1
Satanta 1-1 2-3
Hodgeman County 0-0 2-3
Ashland 0-1 3-2
Bucklin 0-1 0-4
Ingalls 0-1 0-5
Fowler 0-2 1-4
South Central 0-2 1-4
Bucklin at Kiowa County
Fowler at Pratt-Skyline
Hodgeman County at South Central
Ingalls at Ashland
Minneola at Pawnee Heights
Satanta at Sublette
Spearville at South Gray
SOUTH GRAY (5-0, 2-0)—W *Bucklin 88-24; Cimarron Tournament (W Sublette 60-28; W Minneola 66-30; W Cimarron 67-57); W *Ingalls 79-31; 12-16—*Spearville; 1-6—*South Central; 1-10—at *Satanta; 1-13—at *Ashland; 1-17—*Minneola; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—*Hodgeman County; 2-3—at *Pawnee Heights; 2-7—at *Fowler; 2-10—SW Heights; 2-14—at Sublette; 2-17—at *Kiowa County; 2-21—Deerfield
SPEARVILLE (4-1, 2-0)—W *Ashland 49-43; Keady Classic (W Ellinwood 48-38; W Hoisington 50-24; L St John 36-47; W *Fowler; 16—*at South Gray; 1-6—at *Kiowa County; 1-10—at Ness City; 1-13—*Bucklin; 1-17—at *Satanta; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—*Pawnee Heights; 2-3—at Kinsley; 2-7—at *Hodgeman County; 2-10—*Ingalls; 2-14—*Minneola; 2-17—*South Central; 2-21—at Meade
PAWNEE HEIGHTS (5-0, 1-0)—W *Fowler 61-43; W Natoma 68-50; W Palco 59-32; W Western Plains 74-27; W Western Plains 97-24; 12-16—*Minneola; 12-20—*Bucklin; 1-6—Ashland; 1-10—*Kiowa County; 1-13—*Satanta; 1-17—at *Hodgeman County; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—at *Spearville; 2-3—*South Gray; 2-7—at Deerfield; 2-10—*South Central; 2-14—at *Bucklin; 2-17—*Ingalls
MINNEOLA (4-1, 1-0)—W Cunningham 69-25; Cimarron Tournament (W Meade 51-47 L South Gray 30-66; W Satanta 55-34); W *Satanta 50-38; 12-16—at *Pawnee Heights; 1-3—at *Ingalls; 1-10—*Ashland; 1-13—*Hodgeman County; 1-17—at *South Gray; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—*Bucklin; 2-3—Moscow; 2-7—at *Kiowa County; 2-10—Meade; 2-14—at *Spearville; 2-17—at *Fowler; 2-21—*South Central
KIOWA COUNTY (4-1, 1-0)—W LaCrosse 68-43; Keady Classic (L Macksville 59-71; W Kinsley 76-47; W Ellinwood 61-54); W South Central 66-49; 16—Bucklin; 20—at Ashland; 1-3—at Ashland; 1-6—Spearville; 1-10—at Pawnee Heights; 1-17—at Ingalls; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—at Meade; 2-3—Satanta; 2-7—Minneola; 2-10—at Hodgeman County; 2-17—South Gray; 2-21—at Fowler
SATANTA (2-3, 1-1)—W South Central 49-43; Cimarron Tournament (W Bucklin 55-45 L Cimarron 42-65 L Minneola 34-55); Minneola 38-50; 16—at Sublette; 20—at Deerfield; 1-6—Hodgeman County; 1-10—South Gray; 1-13—at Pawnee Heights; 1-17—Spearville; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 2-3—Kiowa County; 2-7—at Moscow; 2-10—Ashland; 2-14—Fowler; 2-17—at Bucklin; 2-21—Ingalls
HODGEMAN COUNTY (2-3, 0-0)—W Deerfield 48-40; WaKeeney Tournament (W Stockton 50-37 L Oakley 31-44; L LaCrosse 29-39); L Ness City 36-64; 12-16—at *South Central; 12-19—at *Fowler; 1-6—at *Satanta; 1-13—*Minneola; 1-17—*Pawnee Heights; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—at *South Gray; 2-3—*Bucklin; 2-7—*Spearville; 2-10—*Kiowa County; 2-14—at *Ingalls; 2-17—at *Ashland; 2-21—Macksville
ASHLAND (3-2, 0-1)—L *Spearville 43-49; Fowler Tournament (W Deerfield 64-44 W Ingalls 68-67, W Fowler 68-47); L Attica 48-55; 12-16—*Ingalls; 1-3—*Kiowa County; 1-6—at *Pawnee Heights; 1-10—*Minneola; 1-13—*South Gray; 1-17—*South Central; 1-20-28—SPIAA Tournament; 1-31—at *Fowler; 2-10—at *Satanta; 2-14—*Rolla; 2-17—at Moscow; 2-17—*Hodgeman County; 2-21—*Bucklin
INGALLS (0-5, 0-1)—L Moscow; Fowler Tournament (L Fowler 51-59; L Ashland 67-68 L South Gray 31-79); L *South Gray 31-79; 16—at *Ashland; 1-3—*Minneola; 1-6—at *Bucklin; 1-10—*Fowler 1-13—at *South Central; 1-17—*Kiowa County; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 2-3—Dighton; 2-7—Rolla; 2-10—at *Spearville; 2-14—*Hodgeman County; 2-17—*Pawnee Heights; 2-21—at *Satanta
BUCKLIN (0-4, 0-1)—L South Gray 24-88; Cimarron Tournament (L Satanta 45-55 L Meade 24-68 L Sublette 35-51); 16—at Kiowa County; 20—at Pawnee Heights; 1-3—at Skyline; 1-6—Ingalls; 1-10—at South Central; 1-13—at Spearville; 1-17—at Fowler; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—at Minneola; 2-3—Hodgeman County; 2-7—Western Plains; 2-14—Pawnee Heights; 2-17—Satanta; 2-21—at Ashland
FOWLER (1-4, 0-2)—L *Pawnee Heights 43-61; Fowler Tournament (W Ingalls 59-51; L Deerfield 46-49; L Ashland 47-68); L *Spearville; 16—at Skyline; 19—*Hodgeman County; 1-6—at Rolla; 1-10—at *Ingalls; 1-17—*Bucklin; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—*Ashland; 2-2—at *South Central; 2-7—*South Gray; 2-10—at Mackville; 2-14—at *Satanta; 2-17—*Minneola; 2-21—*Kiowa County
SOUTH CENTRAL (1-4, 0-2)— L *Satanta 43-49; Alva Tournament (WL Drummond, Okla. 32-20; Timberlake, Okla. 46-61 L Cherokee, Okla. 26-39); L *Kiowa County 49-66; 16—*Hodgeman County; 1-3—South Barber; 1-6—at *South Gray; 1-10—*Bucklin; 1-13—*Ingalls; 1-17—at *Ashland; 1-20-28, SPIAA at Dodge City; 1-31—at Kinsley; 2-3—*Fowler; 2-10—at *Pawnee Heights; 2-14—St. John; 2-17—at *Spearville; 2-21—at *Minneola