Jacob Meseke | sports editor
For the first time in more than three decades, both Wabaunsee basketball teams are headed to state.
On Saturday, both the boys and girls triumphed in the substate championship, each defeating number one seeds earlier in the week.
The boys defeated Mission Valley 65-52, earning their first state appearance since 2005. That 2005 team went on to finish as the state runner-up.
The girls played in the later game. Facing the number three seed Jefferson County North in a hard fought battle that went into overtime. The girls ended up winning in overtime, 54-49, securing a third-straight state appearance, and a fifth in seven seasons.
“I thought that we responded to adversity really well during the JCN game,” head coach Trevor Keller said. “There were multiple times where JCN had the momentum and we had to make a play to regain control of the game. We talk a lot about playing present and winning the current possession regardless of what happened on the last. I thought the team did a tremendous job of staying in the moment, as we had a number of different players make huge plays in the 2nd half and OT, which is a testament to their toughness and resiliency.”
The lone senior, Maddy Wertzberger, finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Junior Lauren Schutter finished 12 points, 18 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Freshman Karli Meseke had 11 points and a big time 3-pointer at the start of overtime.
The last time both boys and girls basketball teams went to state in the same year was the 1985-86 season. The boys were state champions and the girls were state runner-ups. A state appearance means a lot for both teams.
“After losing five seniors off of last year’s team who played significant varsity minutes throughout their careers, we knew that there would be some learning curves this season. The regular season was a bit of a rollercoaster due to a variety of factors but our message of wanting to play our best basketball in March was consistent. This team is a special group of people because of their commitment to daily growth as well as their toughness and resiliency during challenging times,” Keller said.
The boys will have to travel to Valley Falls tonight for the first round of the state tournament. Valley Falls are 17-4 on the season and are coming off an overtime substate championship win against Riverside.
The girls will travel to Valley Heights tomorrow night for their first round of state. The girls are looking for revenge as Valley Heights did beat them last year in the first round of state.
Both games will start at 6 p.m. The boys game will be streamed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcT4G2ga2GdiFOW0pEA3RQg. The girls game will be streamed at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/schools/valley-heights-high-school-blue-rapids-ks.