HALSTEAD — For the second time this year, the Hesston High School boys basketball team got all it could handle from the Larned Indians, holding on for a 53-51 win Thursday in the Class 3A sub-state semifinals at Halstead.
Hesston beat Larned 46-45 on Feb. 18 in Hesston. This time, the Indians missed a pair of free throws with no time left in regulation.
The Swathers trailed by eight in the third quarter.
"We just played hard," Hesston coach Greg Raleigh said. "We cut it back at the end of the quarter. Max Arnold did a great job on (Chance) Sanger. He didn’t score at all in the second half. We would have been in a little better position if we hit free throws. We were one of six at the end of the game. The kids play hard. They don’t quit. They are probably too young to know they are behind. I’m proud of them. They could have rolled over and died."
Cason Richardson led Hesston with 15 points. Brayden Schilling, Jackson Humphries and Nick Arnold each added nine points.
Sanger led 16-6 Larned with 20 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Brock Skelton scored 14 and Andreus Tucker each added 10. Skelton also hit four 3-pointers.
The biggest lead in the first quarter was four points for Hesston. The Indians cut that to two at the end of the period, 15-13.
Hesston cooled down from the field in the second quarter, while Larned continued to bury shots from the NBA 3-point range. A Brock Skelton 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining in the half put Larned up 28-24.
Larned went from three of eight shooting in the first quarter to five of eight in the second. Hesston went from seven of 10 to three of 10.
Larned led by as many as eight in the third quarter. Hesston cut it to three on a pair of Jackson Humphreys free throws as time expired.
Hesston regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a Richardson layup with 6:18 left in regulation. Mason Perez hit one of two free throws 16 seconds later to tie the game.
A pair of free throws each by Richardson and Max Arnold put Hesston up by four. After one of two Perez free throws, Hesston got layups by Richardson and Nick Arnold as well as one of two Richardson free throws after a Larned technical.
Tucker hit a putback with 1:10 left to get Larned back within four. Nick Arnold replied with one of two free throws.
After two 3-point misses by Sanger and a Hesston turnover, Skelton hit a deep 3-pointer to get the Indians within two with 34.5 seconds to play.
Nick Arnold hit a layup, followed by a Smith layup for Larned. Richardson missed two free throws with 8.8 seconds to play.
Larned missed a pair of shots, but 10 was fouled at the buzzer, missing both free throws.
Hesston is 21-1 and hosts Haven at 7:30 p.m. in the finals. Hesston beat the Wildcats by six on Feb. 4 in Haven. The Wildcats advanced with a 53-48 comeback win over Lyons.
"Haven is really good, Lyons is really good," Raleigh said. "We’ll get a day of practice. We may have to shoot some free throws. This is really good for our league. I wish they would do 3A a little different. All four of these teams are capable of representing our league at state. Hoisington is very good. If we would have been separated, we’d maybe have three or four teams at state,"
LARNED (16-6) — Perez 1 2-5 3, 4; Smith 1 0-0 4, 2; Stelter 0 0-2 5, 0; Skelton 1 (4) 0-2 5, 14; Sanger 3 (4) 2-2 3, 20; Tucker 4 2-2 1, 10; Crosby 0 1-2 1, 1; TOTALS 10 (8) 7-15 18, 51.
HESSTON (21-1) — Esau 0 0-0 1, 0; Schroeder 1 0-0 1, 2; Proctor 0 0-0 0, 0; Schilling 2 (1) 2-4 1, 9; Richardson 6 3-6 0, 15; M.Arnold 1 3-4 1, 5; Humphreys 1 (1) 4-4 0, 9; N.Arnold 3 3-4 3, 9; Bollinger 2 0-0 2, 4; TOTALS 16 (2) 15-22 9, 53.
Technical foul — L: Perez.