SCHS boys reminded to ‘enjoy the moment’

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By Rod Haxton, editor

Six games.

That is what stands between the Scott Community High School boys and a place in the Kansas high school history books.

The SCHS basketball team’s quest for a rare threepeat begins next week when they face Lakin in the opening round of Class 3A sub-state tournament action.

Scott City (19-1) is heavily favored to win their sub-state, though no one on the team is taking anything for granted. Waiting on the other side of the bracket for an opportunity to pull off the upset are Cheney (17-3) and Great West Activities Conference rival Holcomb (16-4).

Should the Beavers get past Lakin (6-13) for the second time this season, they will face the winner of Cimarron (13-6) and Southwestern Hts. (11-6).

After going through a season in which they thoroughly dominated their opponents, with the exception of the Dodge City Tournament of Champions, head coach Glenn O’Neil says sub-state is a combination of both excitement and business as usual for the Beavers.

“We’re excited to be at this fourth phase of our season,” he explains.

Those four phases include the pre-season tournament in which the coaching staff and players had little time to prepare for unknown opponents Denver South and Wichita Trinity, especially with a football season that didn’t end until the state championship game only 12 days before the season opener.

This was followed by preparing for the TOC and a rugged slate of Class 5A and 6A opponents, and then the home stretch through the regular season which featured games against Class 5A Liberal and Great Bend, along with a rematch with Holcomb.

Now it’s time for Phase 4 - sub-state tournament play.

“This part of the year is always very exciting,” says O’Neil. “One of two things can happen. It can be heartbreaking or very rewarding. You make your own choices in how you prepare to win.”

Fortunately, for the Beavers, they have been able to avoid the heartbreak on their way to back-to-back state titles. O’Neil doesn’t see the team feeling any additional pressure as they seek a third title.

“I’m excited about it and I know the kids are but, at the same time, we have to approach it from a business-like standpoint and save the excitement for when we reach our goals,” he says.

O’Neil feels the team has done a good job of staying focused on the job at hand and not looking ahead. That begins with the coaching staff which will remind the players to “enjoy the moment.”

“I think everyone realizes how fast a season like this goes. Without having a break between football and basketball seasons, it seemed to go even faster,” he says. “As a coach, when you have a team like this you don’t want it to end. You definitely approach it one game at a time and don’t look ahead to something you hope to achieve. You need to enjoy the ride or the ride could stop short.”

 

Pass Early Tests

Not that the coaching staff and the Beavers had any doubts about how good this team could be. That’s one reason why they were looking forward to the early season round-robin that featured Denver South and Trinity, along with the opportunity to see some of the top teams in the state at the TOC.

“We knew it would be a tough schedule. That’s what we wanted,” O’Neil says. “If we didn’t take care of business, we knew there was a possibility we could go into this part of the season 17-3 or 16-4.

“That would still be a very good winning percentage, but not what we wanted. Our guys have stepped up and taken care of business. The record that we have speaks for them and the commitment they’ve made to getting better week after week.”

So, is this team better than last year’s championship squad?

“Maybe, from a maturity standpoint,” says O’Neil. “We have boys come to practice every day with the idea of always improving their game in some way. Their consistency has been pretty strong. Right now, we’re playing well, so we’ll have to keep that going.”

And despite their success through the regular season, one word that can’t be used to describe the Beavers is complacent - as a team or as individuals.

“As good as these boys have been and can be, they also know there is someone ready to take their place. We have the ability to interchange some pieces if someone doesn’t want to go hard every day in practice,” O’Neil says. “That’s a pretty good motivator. We have boys like Austin (Habiger) and Anthony (Wilson) coming off the bench who can start, if needed, and they’ve shown it.

“Depending on who we put on the floor, we may not get a 30 point win, but we’re certainly capable of winning by 15 or 20 points over most of our competition. Depending on the combination, we may not be quite as good defensively, but we’re still capable of scoring a lot of points.”

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