Boys basketball upsets top seed Eisenhower in quarterfinals of state tournament

Jaguars win 68-64 at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka on Wednesday, March 7


By Libby Mullican

Trying to surpass his opponent, junior Matty Wittenauer advances the ball down the court. Advancing onto the next round, the team won 68-64 against the Eisenhower Tigers. The team is in action again at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 9 at Kansas Expocentre.

Nora Lucas and Sammie Volkamer

Boys basketball defeated the Eisenhower Tigers 68-64 in the quarterfinals of the state tournament in Topeka on Wednesday, March 7. The Tigers were the first seed and the Jaguars were eighth, but after this win, the Jaguars will play in the semifinals Friday against Bishop Carroll.

By Victoria Wright
Making a break for the basket, senior Cooper Kaifes passes by his defender.

The first half was close between the Tigers and the Jaguars, with the first quarter ending 9-9. The Tigers took the lead in the second quarter, but a three pointer followed by three free throws closed the gap. The first half ended 31-29, Eisenhower. Kaifes scored 21 points in the first half.

The second half was a turning point for the Jaguars, with Mason scoring 18 of his 20 points during that time. Mason said the encouragement from coaches played a role in the increased energy.

“[Coach Michael Bennett] just told us to keep being hungry and keep going,” Mason said. “They might be up right now but it’s 0-0; we’re going to keep working, keep going.”

By Victoria Wright
After a missed shot, freshman Keeshawn Mason reaches for an offensive rebound.

The Jaguars sustained a scoring streak through the third quarter with little response from the Tigers. Senior Cooper Kaifes said the improvement from the first half came from the team’s defensive strength.

“We were just locking up, all defense,” Kaifes said. “We didn’t worry much about our offense because we were rolling and basically the second half offense just took care of itself.”

The fourth quarter started 49-44 Jaguars, but Eisenhower quickly scored a three-pointer, making the game even closer. Full of fouls and timeouts, the final quarter was more stop-and-go. In the final minute, Eisenhower was able to score seven more points to the Jaguars’ two. Still, this was not enough to pull ahead and the game ended 68-64, Jaguars. Kaifes led the team with 33 points.

In preparation for the game, Bennett said the team worked on trying to figure out Eisenhower’s approach and its strategy.

“It’s a lot of film, it’s a lot of on the court demonstration practice, stuff like that,” Bennett said. “We put in three good days of trying to get ourselves in the place where we know how they’re going to score, what they’re going to do and then we [needed] to be successful on our side, on the offensive side as well.”

By Victoria Wright
Between third and fourth quarter, head coach Mike Bennet draws out a play to execute in the next possession.

Bennett also said the team’s rebounding was a strength.

“I thought we boarded extremely well and we didn’t give up many offensive boards, so that was something I thought was going to be critical in this game and we did a really good job of giving up very few offensive boards and securing our end,” Bennett said. “On the offensive, you know we hit plenty of shots … [and] when you see shots go in, it kind of lowers their morale a little bit. We were able to do that.”

The boys team won state in 2016.

For more photos from the first half, click here. For more photos from the second half, click here. To see photos from the student section, click here

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