With two sub-state victories this past week, the Goessel High School boys’ basketball team became 1A Emporia sub-state champions.
The team defeated Pretty Prairie and Hartford to improve to 20-5 on the season and punch its ticket to the state tournament.
GHS will be the seventh seed at Hays and take on second-seeded Kensington-Thunder Ridge at 6:30 p.m. today (Wednesday)
In championship round action Saturday Goessel defeated Pretty Prairie, 70-64, in a game that avenged a earlier 20-point loss .
The Bluebirds jumped out to a 13-5 lead midway through the first quarter on a Travis Fensky three-pointer, but the Bulldogs kept close. However, Goessel never trailed in the game.
With 2:40 left in the half, Pretty Prarie tied the game at 23.
Weston Hiebert gathered in six rebounds in the first half and went to the free-throw line 10 times.
Hiebert finished the first half with 10 points as Goessel went into the break leading, 33-30.
The Bluebirds came out on fire to start the third quarter.
Austin Unruh made a quick move at the free-throw line to score an easy bucket, Kendall Voth hit a three-pointer, Fensky knocked in another three, and Voth connected again from long range as the Bluebirds found themselves with the momentum and a 44-30 lead.
Although Goessel led at the end of three quarters, 54-43, it felt like the momentum had shifted back to the Bulldogs.
The Bluebirds missed 8-of-11 free throws near the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, but still maintained a 58-49 edge.
However, the Bulldog defense forced several turnovers and managed to close the gap to 62-58.
Goessel warmed up from the free-throw line in the final two minutes, hitting 8-of-10 free-throws to seal a spot at state.
“We’ve been working all year for this. This is a dream come true,” Unruh said.
Craig Banman agreed.
“We need to play our best next week and see what happens,” he said.
“Going to state means we will play at a different level. It will be a great atmosphere,” Voth said.
Goessel appeared at state two years ago, so most of these seniors have been to Hays and know what it feels like to be in the arena with the final eight teams in 1A.
Unruh’s 21 points led the team.
Hiebert scored 14 points, eight from the free-throw line, and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Fensky knocked in 11 points, Craig Banman scored 10, Voth drained seven, Niko Herman scored five, and Aaron Reimer scored two.
Goessel 52, Hartford 48
The Bluebirds advanced to the sub-state finals with a four-point victory Thursday against Hartford in opening-round action.
Banman opened the scoring Friday for both teams with a three-pointer.
However, Hartford took a short-lived lead early in the game.
Hiebert, Voth, and Herman scored seven straight points to give the Bluebirds a 10-4 lead, but the Jaguars tied the game on a three to end the first quarter tied at 10.
In the second period, Hartford moved ahead, 12-10, but the Bluebirds outscored their opponent, 13-2, with nine offensive rebounds in the first half.
Unruh, Fensky, and Hiebert scored from close range, with Voth knocking in a three-pointer during the second quarter. Goessel led 25-16 at halftime.
The Bluebirds stretched their lead to 15 points at 33-18, behind the scoring of Unruh and Banman.
Hartford made a small run at the Bluebirds, but Hiebert and Herman scored to maintain the Bluebird lead at 15.
The Jaguars scored the final five points of the quarter and trailed, 38-27.
The tension for the Bluebirds heightened in the fourth quarter as Hartford’s Adam Ewy hit a three-pointer with just more than four minutes to play.
The Jaguars were willing to send the Bluebirds to the free-throw line in hopes of catching up.
The strategy worked as GHS missed five free-throws in a row.
The 14-point fourth quarter lead had been reduced to seven with 2:14 to play in the game.
Both teams traded scores for the next minute as Goessel led, 51-41, with 1:01 to play.
Hartford hit a three pointer, then forced a Goessel turnover.
The Jaguars made a field goal to cut the lead to 51-46 and with no time outs left put up a pressure defense.
Unruh managed one free throw but the Jaguars scored again on an inbounds play with less than five seconds to play and the game ended without Goessel having to inbound the ball.
Unruh came up with 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead his team.
Voth notched nine points, Banman added eight, Hiebert dropped in seven, Herman had five, and Fensky scored two.