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Kit Carson Wildcats Take 3rd at State Tournament

The Kit Carson Wildcats travelled to Greely last Thursday to compete in the 1A State Tournament at UNC’s Butler-Hancock Athletic Center. Ranked 4th in the state, the Wildcats would face the #5 ranked Longmont Christian Warriors at 1:15pm.

Kit Carson - Brad Johnson going up for a layup during the 3rd Place State Tournament - Photo credit Bob SchecterIn the first quarter the Wildcats came out strong, scoring 18 points, 9 of which came from Jaxon Crawford from behind the arc. Meanwhile, the Wildcats tough defense held the Warriors to 10. The 2nd stanza was even for both teams as they both contributed 12, and it was 30-22 in favor of KC going into the half. In the 3rd quarter, KC extended their lead to 11 points after being fouled on a 3-point attempt and making all three. But the Warriors kept battling, and the score going into the final quarter was 41-32 in favor of KC. In the final quarter the Warriors quickly scored 8 unanswered points from within the paint, and suddenly it was a one point game, 41-40. William Hornung would get fouled and go to the line making both key shots and extending the Wildcat’s lead 43-40. But the Warriors answered with a bucket in the paint and it was again a one point game; 43-42. KC would get fouled again and make both; 45-42. On the Warrior’s next possession they would get fouled, but they missed both, and KC would go to the line 4 more times, making 7 free throws, and holding the Warriors to just 5 points down the stretch. Kit Carson would take the win 52-47.

KC was 3 for 12 from behind the arc (25%) and the Warriors were 3 for 15 (20%). KC was 13 for 25 (52%) from 2-point range and the Warriors were 15 for 29 (52%). KC shot 17 for 23 from the charity stripe (74%), and the Warriors were 8 for 15 (53%). KC had 25 rebounds compared to the Warriors 29. KC turned the ball over 10 times compared to the Warriors 12. Leading scorer for KC was Brad Johnson with 23, Jaxon Crawford had 22, William Hornung 4, Trevor Medford 2, and Blake Dickey 1. Leading rebounder for KC was Crawford with 10 (and a double-double), Johnson had 5, Hornung 4, TJ Conaway 1, Medford 4, and Dickey had 1. Crawford and Johnson each took a charge, Johnson had a block, and Crawford led in steals with 3 and Johnson led in assists with 3.

This victory sent the Wildcats to face the #1 ranked Holly Wildcats in the State Semi-Final game. This would be the third time this season KC has faced Holly. In the first contest KC lost 47-39 in the Lamar Holiday tournament championship.  In the second matchup at Holly, KC lost 39-33 in overtime. This contest was even more exciting, and definitely one that no one in that arena would ever forget. This state semi-final game went into triple OT before the Holly Wildcats made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game 47-44.

In the 1st quarter Holly would drain four 3’s and add one foul shot to score 13 points. KC wasn’t far behind with 9 points. In the 2nd quarter Holly would quickly sink another 3 to go up 16-9, but KC wasted no time inching their way back, and late in the quarter, KC even went up briefly; 21-20. By the end of the quarter KC would outscore Holly 15 to 11, and the game was tied at halftime; 24-24. In the 3rd period KC’s strong defense would hold Holly to just 6 points (both 3’s) as the Cats contributed 10 points of their own; KC was up at the end of the 3rd 34-30. Late in the final quarter KC would find themselves up by 5 points but Holly would drain a three, shortening that lead; 42-40. When Holly attempted to go to the basket they would get fouled, go to the line and make both and the game was tied 42-42. As time ticked off the clock, KC and Holly would each attempt one last 3, but neither would go in, and it was all tied up at the end of regulation. In the 1st OT, neither team would score, and it was still 42-42 as the teams headed into their 2nd OT. KC’s Brad Johnson would drive to the hoop and score in the beginning of the 2nd OT, but Holly would get fouled a couple of possessions later and make both free throws. As time ran out it was 44-44. In the final OT, KC would take possession first. KC would pass the ball around and Holly would attempt to steal the ball when it got knocked out of bounds and the call was Holly’s possession. As time achingly ticked off the clock, Holly would stall until with less than 10 seconds to go they would make their move to the basket. Vidal would pass to Avalos with a second or two left, and as the buzzer sounded Holly’s 3-pointer was good. Holly wins 47-44.

KC was 6 for 21 from behind the arc (29%) and Holly was 9 for 28 (32%). From 2-point range KC was 11 for 22 (50%) and Holly was 5 for 16 (31%). KC was 4 for 6 from the charity stripe (67%) and Holly was 10 for 11 (91%). KC had 12 turnovers compared to Holly’s 6, KC had 32 rebounds and Holly had 24. Leading scorer for the Cats was Crawford with 19, Johnson had 13, Hornung 2, Medford 5, and Dickey 5. Leading rebounders for KC were Crawford and Johnson with 9 apiece, Hornung had 7, Conaway 2, Medford 2, and Dickey 3. Crawford had a block, Dickey led in steals with 2, and Johnson and Medford led in assists with 4 apiece.

KC’s loss against Holly sent them into the 3rd place match against the Fleming Wildcats.  This was the 2nd time KC had faced Fleming this year, the first contest came out in favor of KC; 53-31. For this important state contest Fleming started off hot from outside the arc, scoring three unanswered 3’s, to go up 9-0 early in the 1st quarter. But KC got things going offensively and scored 4 possessions in a row to end the quarter only down 10-13. In the 2nd quarter it was a back and forth affair, until about halfway through the quarter it was 16-19 in favor of Fleming. KC turned up the energy on offense and defense and as the half came to an end it was KC up 22-19. KC continued this energy in the 3rd quarter as they came out of the locker room ready, scoring another 13 points and holding Fleming to just 7; 35-26. In the final quarter KC would contribute another 8 points, and hold Fleming to just one 3-pointer; taking the game and the 3rd place title 43-29.
KC was 6 for 25 (24%) from behind the arc and Fleming was 6 for 29 (21%).  KC was 10 for 17 from 2-point range (59%) while Fleming was 4 for 16 (25%). From the charity stripe KC was 5 for 16 (31%) while Fleming was 3 for 6 (50%). KC had 6 turnovers while forcing 5 on Fleming. KC had 39 rebounds compared to Fleming’s 28. Leading scorer for KC was Johnson with 18, Crawford had 11, Cordell Farmer 2, Medford 4, and Dickey had 8.  Leading rebounders for KC were Johnson, Crawford and Medford with 10 apiece. Crawford and Johnson each had a double-double. Hornung had 6 boards, and Dickey had 3. Hornung took a charge, Johnson had a steal, and Johnson led in assists with 6. Kit Carson - Jaxon Crawford during the 1A State Champion 3rd Place Game - Photo Credit Bob Schecter

Coach Trahern commented on the Wildcat’s State Tournament Third Place finish last week.  “We made a terrific run at a state championship but unfortunately came up just short.  I am extremely proud of the way we competed in all three games of the tournament.  Our senior leadership was evident throughout all three games and I thought our will to win and our mental toughness was the highest I have seen this group perform at all season.  I felt going into the tournament we were the only team in the field that could beat Holly and that held true until the final shot of the semifinal game. In saying that I thought our defense would be the difference.  Arguably we were the best defensive team in the state this year and certainly one of the best rebounding teams as well.”

“Against Longmont Christian we played well defensively, especially Blake Dickey, holding their leading scorer to just 6 points on the game.  We shot the ball well and most importantly we made our free throws down the stretch to seal that victory.  In the Holly game we executed our game plan perfectly for most of the game.  They only attempted 16 two point field goals on the game and we forced them to shoot a majority of their shots from three point range.  They were able to convert the one three pointer at the end that sealed the deal unfortunately.  We really didn’t execute offensively the last half of the fourth quarter and throughout all three overtimes.  It felt like we played not to lose instead of playing to win, attacking them as we had all game long.  I can second guess a lot of coaching decisions I made in that one that could have helped us down the stretch.  In close games like that you have to get some calls, you have to have some breaks, and you have to have the ball bounce your way a few times at key moments.  It just wasn’t meant to be on that night, and it’s like I told the team; we didn’t lose that game we just ran out of time.”

“In the third place game I was very proud of our team.  Losing in the semifinals, playing for third the next day, is one of the most difficult games that any player has to play.  You have to get the sting of the semifinal loss out of your mind, move on, and try and get yourself mentally ready to play.  We got off to a slow start but found our rhythm mid first quarter and got going.  Defensively we were very good again in this game to finish the season in style.  Fleming only attempted 16 two point shots in the game and shot 29 threes in the game. Not many of those were easy looks and we held them to only 29 points.  We began attacking the basket offensively in the second quarter and that is when the game turned around. It was a good victory to finish the season and bring home a state trophy.  Not many teams in sports win their final game of the season and we did just that.”

“I would like to thank our fans who supported us this year and especially those of you that came to the state tournament.  Kit Carson was well represented in the stands and I thank each of you for your sportsmanship and vocal support for us throughout this season.  I want to thank our assistant coaches Damon Dechant and Curt Connelley, they are both pretty special people to me and their help has been invaluable to our program.  Finally, it is difficult to put into words just what this group of seniors has meant to our program and what each of them means to me.  They truly are a special group.  They are young men of high character, they are all extremely hard workers, and I will always remember just how coachable each and every one of them has been throughout my time with them.  I can only hope the journey has been as special for them as it has been for me.   To our younger players that return next year, each of them have gotten a taste of coming close to the ultimate prize and I can only hope they each have a burning desire to get back to the state tournament and continue our tradition of having a very good basketball team in Kit Carson.”
 
Kit Carson Wildcats - Boys 1A State 3rd Place Champions Photo Credit WildcatPridePhoto.com
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