Scott Community High School head coach Glenn O’Neil hasn’t won 462 games in his career by taking an opponent too lightly.
That’s not going to change this week in the Class 3A state tournament.
Even though he’s coaching the No. 2 seed and two-time defending state champions, O’Neil is wary of first round opponent Pittsburg-St. Mary’s Colgan (17-5).
The Panthers earned a berth in the Class 3A state tournament for the second consecutive year with their 75-54 win over Riverton in the sub-state finals.
“They have a history of beating higher seeds at state,” says O’Neil.
In addition, the Panthers are accustomed to playing on the big stage in basketball. They have qualified for the state tournament the past nine years - seven in Class 2A (2005-11) and the last two in Class 3A. Pittsburg-Colgan won state titles in 2005 and 2008, with the most recent title coming as the No. 3 seed. They were also the state runner-up in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“They are a team that will be very deliberate on offense, sometimes taking a minute or more off the clock with a possession,” says O’Neil.
Their best player and athlete is Dyson Dechant (6-4, senior) who was also the quarterback of their football team. Dechant scored a game high 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds against Riverton.
He was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Austin Commons (18 points) and guard/forward Luke Marquardt (10 points).
“Dechant has scored more than 20 points in a majority of the games this season,” says O’Neil. “He also has the ability to step away from the basket and hit the 15-footer. He presents a lot of trouble for guys who aren’t used to stepping out and playing defense.”
Commons can shoot the three and dribble-drive to the basket. Marquardt (6-1, junior) can also post up and score in double figures.
Upset losses in the state tournament are not uncommon and the Panthers have handed out several during their current run of nine consecutive state trips.
In 2009, the No. 8 seeded Panthers stunned Olpe in the opening round and defeated Nemaha Valley in the semi-finals before settling for a state runner-up finish.
In 2010, the No. 5 seeded Panthers won their first two games in the Class 2A tournament, including a 37-32 win over Nemaha Valley in the semi-finals.
In 2011, Colgan was the No. 2 seed in the Class 2A tournament, but was upset in the opening round by Lyndon.
Colgan qualified for last year’s Class 3A state tournament as the No. 6 seed, losing in the opening round to Central Heights (61-50).