STATE BASKETBALL | Boys basketball finishes 2nd, girls exit in 1st round

Jacob Meseke | sports editor 

With an improbable run in the playoffs, the boys came up short in the championship to Hillsboro, 59-50. The boys ended the season with a 13-13 record. The boys started the season with a 1-10 record and entered the playoffs with a record of 8-12.

In the first round of state, the boys defeated Valley Falls 64-40. Senior Tyler Lohmeyer recorded 17 points and 17 rebounds and junior Cade Oliver had 22 points and a half court shot to beat the halftime buzzer. In the state semifinals, the boys faced Hoxie who was led by 7-footer Harlan Obioha. Hoxie went into the game as the number one seed and undefeated. The boys upset Hoxie 73-56. Sophomore Eli Oliver had 26 points and made four three pointers. 

The boys faced Hillsboro in the 2A state championship. Junior Brayden Meseke’s 24 points would not be enough as the boys fell 59-50. Hillsboro jumped out to an early 14-4 start. The Chargers would end up tying Hillsboro at 23 in the second quarter, but could never get a hold of the lead.

The girls lost their first round state matchup to Valley Heights 60-44. Junior Lauren Schutter had 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 blocks. The lone senior Maddy Wertzberger added five rebounds and fouled out in the third quarter of her final high school game. The game was played at Valley Heights instead of at Bramlage Coliseum like years past. 

For both teams, seniors brought leadership for the teams. 

“Each one brought something we need: Dawson brought leadership and a work ethic each and every day that is unmatched. Tyler commands the boards and is one of the better passing big men in the state. Jace brings us energy off the bench and is the definition of a team player,” said head boys coach Christian Ulsaker.

“Madisyn Wertzberger, our only senior, demonstrated tremendous leadership all year. I cannot say enough good things about Maddy and what she brought to our team this year,” said head girls coach Trevor Keller. 

Both girls and boys will be returning their leading scorer. Junior Brayden Meseke led the team with 13.9 points per game and junior Lauren Schutter averaged 14.3 points per game. 

“We will have 3 starters returning next year. Brayden Meseke, Cade Oliver and Eli Oliver. I expect each to grow as basketball players over the summer. Brayden will continue to work on his ball handling, Cade will work on his outside game and Eli will be in the weight room getting stronger,” said Ulsaker. 

“We are really excited about the group that we are bringing back next year. We feel like the team made tremendous growth over the course of the season. There are several areas that we will focus on improving both individually and as a team this offseason,” said Keller. 

To make it back to the state tournament both teams will need to work hard through the offseason. The boys will need to have their sophomores fill in big roles. 

“I think what hurt us the most this year was our depth. We have a lot of going to be Junior. I expect to fill some major holes. My hope is we can go 8 deep in a rotation next year,” said Ulsaker 

“In order for this team to return to the state tournament next year it will be important to continue to improve this offseason. Each time we get in the gym this summer we have to take advantage of the opportunity to improve our game both individually and as a team,” said Keller. 

Senior Dawson Schultz shoots during the state championship game against Hillsboro. The Chargers, who entered the postseason 7-12, made an incredible run to the championship game, beating undefeated Hoxie in the semifinal. They fell in the final 59-50, finishing as state runner-up. Photos by Paxton Meyer.

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