Friday, 03 July 2020
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Panther Boys Stunned By St. Mary's In Sub State Final
By Jake W Spalding
Copyright: MSC Sports

Hoyt, KS

Championship Saturday in the class 3A Sub State at Royal Valley had the host Panthers taking on a surging St. Mary's Bears team, looking for a spot in the state tournament. In one of the best games around the state on the night, the Bears would upset the Panthers 44-43

#1 Royal Valley came into the game riding a 14 game win streak including their first two games in sub state, knocking off Silver Lake and Perry Lecompton by double digits. Their opponent, #6 St. Mary's came into the contest riding an impressive streak of their own. Avenging early season sweeps by Riley County and Rock Creek in the first two rounds of sub state, as they returned the favor in both games by double digits as well. This game would have eighteen lead changes throughout the contest, and from the opening tip there was a feeling that this game would come down to the wire.

St. Mary's came out of the gate hitting three triples in the first quarter en route to an 11-8 lead after one. In the second, Royal Valley Sophomore Brady Klotz picked up his second foul of the game and second year coach Trent Oliva brought Sophomore KJ Miller into the contest. Miller had an immediate impact on the game, sparking the Panthers with five points in the frame. Royal Valley regained the lead in large part thanks to Miller and Klotz and led by three with just six seconds left in the half. A free-throw line jumper was missed by Sophomore Nachs Wahwassuck and the Bears scrambled for the rebound, throwing it ahead to Senior Caden Hurla who hit a twenty-five foot basket as time expired to tie the game up at 24-24 heading to halftime. After the break these teams continued to battle trading baskets and the lead throughout the third frame with five lead changes in the quarter and St. Mary's grabbed the lead 35-34 heading to the fourth.

In the final stanza the battle continued with four more lead changes and two ties. With just 2:00 left in the game we were tied at 40-40 when St. Mary's took the lead by two on a pair of foul shots from Hurla. Royal Valley would bring the game back within one on a free throw from Senior Komesh Spoonhunter. The Bears would have the ball on the ensuing possession when Wahwassuck would steal the ball from Hurla and drive in for the go ahead layup with just :49 seconds left and the Panthers up 43-42. Following a timeout by Bears coach Will Spradling, St. Mary's would have a chance to tie or take the lead when Junior Isaiah Holz was fouled and went to the foul line. Holz missed the front end of the one and one with Spoonhunter ripping down the board for Royal Valley and the Bears elected to foul Junior Brevin Canady with :24 seconds left. Canady would miss the front end of his one and one with St. Mary's collecting the rebound. Spradling decided to let his guys play it out in what was a thrilling final :15 seconds. Caden Hurla had his shot blocked by Klotz, but the loose ball was picked up by Senior Scott Ewing who was fouled on his follow attempt with just :09 seconds left. Ewing would hit the first toss to tie the game at 43-43 and then have to wait an agonizing full sixty second timeout by Royal Valley before attempting his second. His second free throw hit the front of the rim, bounced off the backboard and dropped through to give the Bears the lead 44-43. Wahwassuck would drive the length of the floor and get a good look at a game winning shot at the buzzer, leaning in just 5 feet from the basket, but it hit off the window and ricocheted off the rim leaving the purple faithful stunned.

Royal Valley's historic season came to an end with a record of 21-2. This year the Panthers finished with their first ever Big 7 league title and also the most wins in program history. However the goal of reaching the state tournament was not completed, falling one game short. The Panthers will lose Seniors Isaac Neuner, Jaiden Wamego and Komesh Spoonhunter to graduation but bring back a core of Wahwassuck, Canady, Klotz, Miller and Mason Thomas next year.

Royal Valley Scoring – B. Klotz 12, N. Wahwassuck 10, KJ. Miller 7, M. Thomas 6, B. Canady 5, K. Spoonhunter 3

Citizen's State Bank & Trust Company of Hiawatha "Players To Bank On" - St. Mary's Scott Ewing with nine points including the game winning free throws with :09 seconds left, as well as Royal Valley's KJ Miller who was a spark off the bench dropping seven points in the contest including a big second quarter.

©2020 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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