ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOE KLEINSASSER
Life is good. High school sub-state basketball tournaments are under way. March Madness is just around the corner.
Fans and sportswriters pontificate about which college teams should be in the Big Dance and which teams are on the bubble.
It isn’t a perfect world, though. As much as I enjoy officiating, the job has some disadvantages. One is that I have very few opportunities to watch our local teams play.
Hence, most of the following observations are based on what I have gleaned second hand from local fans or from what I’ve read in the Free Press.
At least I’ve officiated some games involving Hesston, Collegiate and Halstead, so I have some basis for these thoughts.
— Hillsboro High will have its hands full in sub-state. Hesston will be the biggest roadblock to state for both the boys and girls, but there are other viable contenders as well. Any team that wins this sub-state will have earned a trip to Hutchinson.
— Speaking of basketball, when is the last team the Trojan boys opened sub-state action on the road as a No. 5 seed? Nevertheless, they can compete with any team in class 3A on a given night.
— I’m not sure what the overall field is like in Class 3A girls’ basketball, but if Hillsboro manages to win sub-state-and that won’t be easy-I like their chances at the state tournament.
— Many teams play an entire season without winning a game on a last-second shot. Grant Brubacher propelled the Trojans to two victories this season alone with last-second heroics.
That doesn’t particularly surprise me. After officiating a preseason scrimmage at HHS in November, it was evident to me that he has the ability to create his own shot. He can dribble, penetrate and drive to the hoop, or pull up and shoot a jumper.
When it’s crunch time and the game is on the line, it’s a nice luxury to have a player with that kind of ability and confidence.
— Halstead’s window of opportunity to win a state boys basketball championship is open now. An athlete the caliber of Dennis Latimore doesn’t come along every year.
But Halstead isn’t a one-man team. Maybe Hillsboro suffered a letdown when narrowly beating Halstead minus their star player a few weeks ago, but the rest of the Halstead team is still pretty good.
— Do you think sub-state action will be interesting with Collegiate and Halstead in the same sub-state? As usual, some very good teams won’t make it to Hutchinson for the Class 3A state tournament.
— Good thing the natural gas problem has simmered down in Hutchinson. There’s nothing to be concerned about…right?
— The Wellington High School basketball team was late to a game in Hillsboro recently because the bus driver made a wrong turn and wound up in Hutchinson. I guess all roads don’t lead to Hillsboro.
— Do you suppose someone has given the Wellington bus driver a Kansas road map?
— The Tabor College women showed marked improvement this season. They won 13 games for the first time in a season since 1992-93 when they were 16-12. Congratulations to first-year head coach Chanda Rigby, her staff and team for a nice turnaround.
— Congrats as well to the Tabor College men’s team and coaches. They came up a game short in the conference race, but they were clearly among the cream of the crop.
It didn’t take long for Tabor to get back to its customary position at or near the top of the KCAC.
— St. Mary College made a strong statement by winning the KCAC in their first year in the conference. They were lousy in football, but they wouldn’t have been eligible for the men’s basketball title without fielding a football team.
— It’s not surprising that Tabor men’s basketball coach and athletic director Don Brubacher has a good record against most KCAC opponents, but his record against rival Bethel College is nothing short of amazing. In the 19 years Brubacher has coached the Tabor men, the Bluejays are 34-4 against the Threshers.
— Kudos to the coaching staff and wrestlers at HHS. Wrestling hasn’t been around for long in Hillsboro and already the Trojans have won a league title. What’s more amazing is that they did it in spite of some tough injuries.