GHS takes 4th with 1-2 finish at Hays

With a 49-45 come-from-behind upset win over Thunder Ridge Thursday, the seventh-seeded Goessel High School boys basketball team guaranteed itself a finish no lower than fourth place at Hays.

But with its first losses since a 5-game drought in January, the Bluebirds were unable to climb still higher.

Goessel’s 16-game win streak ended Friday against undefeated 1A champion Hanover by a 62-38 score. GHS hotly contested Centralia in Saturday’s high-octane season finale, but fell short of third place by six points, 69-63.

Third-seeded Hanover defeated No. 4 Quinter 53-47 in the title game.

Against Thunder Ridge, GHS dominated when it mattered most, rallying to overcome a five point deficit in the final eight minutes of its 49-45 first round upset victory over second-seeded Thunder Ridge. The Bluebirds took a 15-9 lead off of the opening tip, but trailed 24-22 at halftime. Thunder Ridge reached 40 by scoring 16 points in the third quarter, but could not hold off Weston Hiebert (18 points), Austin Unruh (11) and Craig Banman (9).

The Bluebirds 3-point shooters?Niko Herman (5), Travis Fensky (3) and Kendall Voth (3)?helped offset Thunder Ridge’s 6-for-11 showing from 3-point range, and, perhaps more importantly, the GHS guards silenced the Thunder bombers in the final frame to spark a decisive 14-5 run. Goessel’s defense slowed speedy guard Michael Yoxall, who led Thunder Ridge with 12 points, and all but stopped 6-5 post player Jordan Kirk (6 points).

Against Hanover, the Bluebirds offense went cold, shooting 10-for-48 from the field (21 percent) and just 1-for-18 from 3-point range. Banman scored 12 points and Austin Unruh scored nine, but Hanover hit 49 percent of its shots and turned a 30-17 halftime advantage into a 50-29 lead through three quarters. Goessel was out-rebounded 41-27 despite Unruh’s 16 boards.

Goessel found its offense against Centralia, which dropped top-seeded Crest 69-61 in the quarterfinals and came within a point of ousting Quinter 65-64 Friday.

But Centralia’s 6-5 senior center Ben Steinlage?who entered the tournament averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds?came within a rebound of a double-double to pace the Panthers to victory.

In spite of Steinlage’s 26 points, Goessel overcame a 34-24 halftime deficit to pull within two points in the final minute of the contest. GHS scored 23 points in the third quarter, but could not sustain the surge long enough to overcome Centralia’s 19 free throw points.

Led by Banman (19 points) and by Unruh’s 13-10 double-double, Goessel tied the game at 24-24 before falling behind for good.

The Bluebirds made 26 of 55 shots (47 percent) from the field but lacked precision from 3-point range (5-for-22, 23 percent). Steinlage’s 9-for-14 effort, combined with six Panther 3-pointers, powered Centralia to 47 percent shooting for the game.

Goessel’s 2009 final record is 21-7.

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