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March 8, 2018 
Harvey County IndependentMarch 8, 2018 Harvey County Independent

DRAGONS TAKE STATE

Posted 3/10/2018

Gerber’s Buzzer-Beater Lay-Up Clinches Title

By Jared JanzenTHE Halstead Dragons proudly show off their 2018 3A KSHSAA State Championship trophy and medals following their thrilling 44-42 win over Phillipsburg Saturday night.THE Halstead Dragons proudly show off their 2018 3A KSHSAA State Championship trophy and medals following their thrilling 44-42 win over Phillipsburg Saturday night.

HALSTEAD—It came down to the very last second of the very last play. Tied 42-all with 6.7 seconds on the clock, the Dragons came out of a time-out and got the ball to junior Braden Gerber, who drove it to the basket for the win. And with that, the Halstead Dragons brought home their first boys basketball state championship since 2001.

“I’ve practiced moves like that for years and years,” Gerber said. He ANDREW O’Brien, Dalton Kraus and Kason O’Neal hoist the coveted trophy into the air. ANDREW O’Brien, Dalton Kraus and Kason O’Neal hoist the coveted trophy into the air. added that making the game-winning shot of a state championship game was like a dream come true.

“The play was supposed to go to Kason O’Neal, but really it could have been anybody,” Gerber said.

Head coach Lonnie Lollar said he had been confidant Gerber would make that game-winning shot.

“I knew he was going to make it,” Lollar said.

He gave credit to the Halstead community for helping make the state tournament memorable.

“I’m happy for every one of these kids for being part of our basketball program,” he said. “When I think about the thunderous sendoff we had today it gives me chills, and looking at the stands full of Halstead fans, it’s a moment I’ll never forget. This has been one of the best weeks of my life, if not the best.”

While the final few minutes of the game down to the wire, that wasn’t the pattern of the entire game. The Dragons held the No. 2 Phillipsburg Panthers to just four points in the second quarter, which helped Halstead build an 11-point early in the third.

The Dragons took the reins from the get-go, with O’Neal and Gerber scoring on the Dragons’ first two possessions, while the Panthers didn’t get on the board until their third possession when they sunk a three, putting the score at 4-3 in Halstead’s favor.

O’Neal stole the ball with three minutes in the quarter to make an easy lay-up, 11-7, but Phillipsburg dropped in another trey two minutes later so that the Dragons only led by one after the first quarter, 11-10.

The Panthers scored on their first possession of the second quarter to grab a one-point lead, which would turn out to be their only lead of the night. They led for 1:38 before Andrew O’Brien put in a bucket for the Dragons. A Panther free throw tied the game at 13-all, but O’Neal responded with a field goal.

Another Panther free throw a minute later would be that team’s fourth and final point of the second quarter as the Dragons ended the half with a 7-0 run. Baskets by O’Brien and O’Neal plus a trey from O’Neal helped the Dragons get their largest lead of the game, 29-18 with 6:05 left on the clock in the third.

But then, just like in their first two state tournament games, the Dragons allowed a large run in the third period to allow their opponent to play catch-up. A 7-0 Panther run trimmed the deficit to just four points until it was finally broken by Gerber just before the buzzer, making the third-quarter score 31-25 with the Dragons up by six.

Free throws kept the Dragons alive in the fourth period, accounting for 11 out of the 13 points they made that period. The Dragons shot 11-of-14 free throws in the final quarter with Dalton Kraus accounting for eight of them, shooting 100 percent.

The Dragons were up by a single point with 1:42 on the clock, 38-37. Phillipsburg took a timeout, then Halstead. Kraus dropped in a pair of free throws with 1:08 on the clock to give Halstead a three-point lead, which held until just 19 seconds were left in the game as both teams failed to capitalize on a free-throw opportunity.

Phillipsburg then sunk a three to tie the game, 40-all, but D. Kraus quickly followed it up with two more free throws to edge the Dragons ahead. With five seconds on the clock, the Panthers dropped in another bucket to tie the game again, 42-all. Lollar called a time-out for Halstead, and the clock was reset to 6.7 seconds.

Those final few moments of the game—with fans on both sides of the stadium on their feet in anticipation—came down to Gerber’s lay-up, and with the game on the line, he executed the play and kept the Dragons out of overtime.

The 44-42 win marks the Halstead boys basketball team’s eighth state title in program history. The team closes its season with a 23-2 record.

O’Neal led scoring against Phillipsburg with 15 points, followed by O’Brien and D. Kraus with eight each. Gerber totaled six on the night, while Bohling had five and Kaden Kraus added two.

The Dragons only made three three-pointers out of a dozen attempts, but they were 15-of-20 from the charity strip.

Phillipsburg’s leading scorer, No. 12 Ty Sides, had 10 points and was the opposing team’s only player to make double digits in the low-scoring contest.

The Panthers shot 3-of-13 from beyond the arc and were 50 percent at the line, making 7-of-14.

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DRAGONS KNOCK OUT NO. 1 SEED, WILL PLAY PHILLIPSBURG AT STATE FINALS

Posted 3/9/2018

HALSTEAD defeated Maur-Hill Mount Academy 63-51 Friday evening to advance to the 3A boys basketball state finals. HALSTEAD defeated Maur-Hill Mount Academy 63-51 Friday evening to advance to the 3A boys basketball state finals. By Jared Janzen

HALSTEAD—Baylor Bohling’s 14-of-16 free throw shooting Friday evening helped the Halstead Dragons maintain a double-digit lead over top-seeded Maur Hill-Mount Academy throughout the fourth quarter of state semifinals on their way to a 63-51 win.

“This was just an unbelievable performance,” head coach Lonnie Lollar said. “These kids want a state title. They want a state championship, and they’re going to do everything they can tomorrow to make that happen.”

The victory means the Dragons will play No. 2 Phillipsburg (23-1) in the championship game Saturday night. Phillipsburg defeated No. 3 Cheney, 59-46, in the semi-finals Friday.

This is Halstead’s first appearance at the boys basketball state finals since 2001, which was also the last time the Halstead boys won state.

“It feels amazing,” said senior Dalton Kraus after Friday night’s win. “When we played at Sedgwick (for sub-state) that was a really good atmosphere, but it was nothing like this.”

He added that the team feels ready for the championship game.

“We’ve been ready all year,” he said.

D. Kraus helped the Dragons get off to a hot start against Maur Hill-Mount Academy by sinking a trio of three-pointers in the first quarter, including one on the Dragons’ first possession. Within the first three minutes, the Dragons built up a 12-2 lead over the Ravens before the run was broken by a pair of free throws.

Lollar said his team’s goal had been to get off to a strong start like this to force the Ravens to play man-to-man defense.

MH-MA snuck in a three-pointer at the buzzer to put the first-quarter score at 15-9 in favor of the Dragons.

It looked like the Dragons would continue to dominate in the second quarter, with Andrew O’Brien dropping in a three and then Baylor Bohling stealing the ball for a layup. But then the Dragons’ shooting went cold, and the Ravens managed a 9-0 run that lasted about three-and-a-half minutes.

Bohling got the Dragons back on the board with a trey, but all-in-all MH-MA out-shot Halstead in the second quarter 14-8 to tie the score 23-23 at halftime.

“You could call that a shoot-out, early,” Lollar said. “We got hot early, and then they got hot and we kind of cooled off.”

The Dragons came out of the locker room back on top, making a 9-0 run of their own, with Braden Gerber, O’Brien and Kason O’Neal all getting in on the action. Over five minutes had ticked off the clock by the time the Ravens scored in the second half off a deep three.

“We shot it from 20 feet; I think they were shooting from 27 feet,” Lollar said.

Up by seven points with 1:26 left in the quarter, the Dragons ran some time off the clock before getting the ball to Gerber for a basket. This game Halstead a 40-31 lead going into the final period.

“They’re very, very tough in the zone,” Lollar said about MH-MA. “When we got the game in the second half where they had to come get us, I felt like it went very favorable in terms of us getting to the free throw line. They had to foul us to stop us.”

The fourth quarter was dominated by free throws, and Bohling was the star of the Dragons’ show. He added 14 points to the Dragons’ total out of 16 free throw attempts, all of them in the last four minutes of the game.

Before the game, Lollar had predicted that Bohling would shine that night.

“I told him on a text message early this morning that this is a lefties’ gym,” Lollar said. “We’re both the only two lefties on the team, and I said ‘Baylor, this is a lefties’ gym. Just remember that.’”

Halstead kept a healthy advantage over MH-MA throughout the final period, leading by as much as 14 points. Final score was 63-51.

“I thought we had control of the game, but that last two minutes lasted an eternity, and (MH-MA) made a tremendous amount of tough shots and they rebounded it well,” Lollar said. “We had a little more fight when we needed it, and obviously Baylor Bohling’s free-throw shooting kind of pushed us over the top in terms of keeping them at bay.”

Bohling’s free-throw spree allowed him to lead the Dragons in scoring with 22 points. Also racking up double digits were O’Brien and O’Neal with 12 each and D. Kraus with 10. Gerber chipped in seven points.

As a team the Dragons went 20-of-25 from the free throw line and 9-of-23 from beyond the arc compared to the Ravens’ 13-of-18 at the line and 6-of-15 three-pointers.

MH-MA’s leading scorer, No. 10 Jack Caudle, had 22 points on the night, followed by No. 23 Jared Thibault with 13.

The win improves the Dragons’ overall record to 22-2, while MH-MA ends its season 23-2.

“They were 23-1, and there’s a reason for that,” Lollar said about MH-MA. “Obviously they’re a lot bigger than we were size-wise, player by player, position by position. They’re a pretty physical group.”

He added that the Ravens were a well-coached team and credited them with not folding under pressure.

Lollar said he couldn’t be more proud of this year’s Dragons.

“I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of good players and a lot of good coaches,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to have coached at three different really nice schools, but this team’s right up there with the best tonight.”

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DRAGONS EDGE CANEY VALLEY, 65-63, TO ADVANCE TO STATE SEMIS

Posted 3/8/2018

Halstead To Play No. 1 Seed Friday

By Jared Janzen

HALSTEAD—DownANDREW O’Brien goes for a lay-up Wednesday night against Caney Valley. He scored 21 points that game and made an impressive 18 rebounds.ANDREW O’Brien goes for a lay-up Wednesday night against Caney Valley. He scored 21 points that game and made an impressive 18 rebounds. by six points early in the final quarter, the Halstead Dragons rallied for a two-point win over Caney Valley on Wednesday night in the opening round of the 3A Boys Basketball State Tournament in Hutchinson.

“They never quit,” head coach Lonnie Lollar said about his team. “They showed a lot of heart and fought it out.”

The fifth-seeded Dragons (now 21-2) secured a 65-63 win over No. 4 Caney Valley (20-3) and will advance to the tournament semifinals. They’re scheduled to play No. 1 Atchison-Maur Hill-Mount Academy at 4:45 p.m. this Friday at Hutchison Community College in Hutchison.

Looking ahead to Friday night’s game against MH-MA, Lollar said it would be a very tough battle. He noted that the team has a lot of size and relies on three-point shots, often making deep threes from way beyond the arc.

MH-MA (23-1) defeated No. 8 Council Grove (11-12) in the opening round, 59-56, thanks to a last-second shot.

If the Dragons beat MH-MA, they’ll play in the championship game at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. If they lose, they’ll play for third place at 2 p.m.

In the game against Caney Valley, senior Kason O’Neal scored the first points of the match with a pair of free throws, but Caney Valley quickly tied it up and then built themselves an 8-2 lead thanks to a couple treys. Halstead responded with three’s from Braden Gerber and Andrew O’Brien, which along with a Gerber free throw put the Dragons back in the lead, 11-9, with 2:31 to play in the first quarter.

Caney Valley made its third shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 13-all, but then O’Brien closed the first quarter with two buckets to give the Dragons a four-point lead at the quarter, 17-13.

KASON O’Neal drops in a basket during the opening round of the state tournament. He scored 17 points that game.KASON O’Neal drops in a basket during the opening round of the state tournament. He scored 17 points that game.The Dragons kept their advantage throughout the second period. O’Brien and O’Neal each made baskets for the Dragons to complete an 8-0 run that O’Brien had started at the end of the first quarter.

Halstead tried to pull away, building up a nine-point lead a couple times late in the second quarter, but the Bullpups closed the gap to three, 31-28, with 1:20 left in the half. A trey by O’Neal and two shots from the line by O’Brien put the Dragons back up by eight points at the half, 36-28.

Coming into the second half, Caney Valley capitalized off a couple Dragon turnovers to make five points, but Dalton Kraus responded with back-to-back threes to put his team up by 10, their biggest lead of the game.

“Dalton Kraus had a lot of clutch baskets,” Lollar said.

That bright spot didn’t last long, however, as the Bullpups then proceeded on a 9-0, three-minute run until they had come with a single point, 42-41, with 2:21 left in the third.

“That team plays with a lot of confidence, whether they’re up or behind,” Lollar said.

O’Brien broke the streak, but then the Bullpups had another quick run to reclaim the lead, 47-44 with just under a minute to play in the third period. Halstead trailed 46-50 heading into the fourth.

The Bullpups started the quarter with a pair of free throws to get up by six points. Braden Gerber, usually one of the Dragons’ top scorers, had only made a single free throw during the first three quarters of the game, but he sunk a three in the first minute of the fourth quarter. O’Neal made a shot, and then D. Kraus hit a trey to put the Dragons back in front, 54-52 with 4:23 left in the game. O’Neal scored a pair of baskets as the minutes ticked away and Caney Valley failed to score, putting Halstead up 58-52 with just under two minutes left.

The Bullpups kept trying to close this gap, but a slam-dunk by O’Neal kept Dragon spirits high and gave the team a 62-57 advantage with 44 seconds left.

“When Kason threw that tomahawk dunk down, it was like an exclamation point,” Lollar said. “It felt like we weren’t going to lose at that point.”

Caney Valley made a three with 20 seconds on the clock, 62-60, and then Gerber made a pair of free throws, 64-60. The Bullpups snuck in another three to come within just one point, 64-63 with three seconds on the clock. They fouled O’Brien, who went one for two, but it was enough. A last-second three-point attempt by Caney Valley failed, and the Dragons won, 65-63.

NO. 12 Dalton Kraus guards a Bullpup. NO. 12 Dalton Kraus guards a Bullpup. O’Brien racked up impressive totals during the game, making 21 points, 18 rebound and six assists.

“Andrew played like a man on the defensive boards tonight,” Lollar said. “He took his game to a new level.”

Three other Dragons poured in double digits: O’Neal with 17, D. Kraus with 13 and Baylor Bohling  with 10. Gerber had four points on the night.

Like O’Brien, the Bullpups’ leading scorer, No. 5 Carter Brown, also had 21 points.

Both teams were 11-of-17 at the free throw line. The Dragons collectively made 8-of-17 from beyond the arc, while the Bullpups shot 10-of-28.

Lollar said Caney Valley was by far the best three-point-shooting team in his opinion that the Dragons have faced, noting that they had made some unbelievable shots.

The win over Caney Valley was even more special for Lollar and O’Neal because both coach and player had a birthday that day.

“Every birthday I’m blessed with after this, I’m going to think about this one,” Lollar said.

With this being Lollar’s eighth trip to state as a coach, plus three times as a player, he said atmosphere of community support and adulation stood out to him this time around. He thanked the school district and the Halstead community for their tremendous support prior to the game with the pep rally, parade and fire department escort.

“I felt like I was in a movie,” he said.

For coverage of the Dragons' sub-state run and other Halstead sports, please see this week's print edition.

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Dry Conditions Trigger 'Catastrophic' Fire Warning

Posted 3/8/2018

SMOKE could be seen from miles away from a fire near Sedgwick last Friday.SMOKE could be seen from miles away from a fire near Sedgwick last Friday.By Pilar Martin

A new category of grassfire hazard – the catastrophic fire warning – was issued for Harvey County Tuesday.

The catastrophic level is a warning that large fire can spread rapidly, with wind speeds of at least 30 mph and humidity in the low teens. This week began with those conditions.

Rodney Redinger with the Kansas Forest Service explained how the new catastrophic level came about.

“The Grassland Fire Index (GFI) was started 10 years ago. We used weather service research, science, experience and history to come up with the red flag warnings,” Redinger said.

If the wind is over 20 mph and humidity less than 20 percent, red flag warnings or extreme fire danger warnings are issued.

“We also saw that when the humidity was 22 percent and the winds were 40 mph the fire acted the same…same fire behavior output, combination of wind and humidity would equal extreme fire behavior,” Redinger added.

Last spring fires in Reno County exceeded the 50 GFI. “We had indices in the 130s and they were still considered extreme fire danger. There’s a big difference from 52 GFI to 130 GFI. We settled on an index of 80 GFI for the catastrophic fire danger designation,” Redinger said.

To continue reading, please see this week's print edition.

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Oslimpians Shed 672 Pounds

Posted 3/8/2018

By Jared Janzen

HALSTEAD—Halstead residents have been looking a little bit slimmer lately, thanks to the second-annual Oslimpics organized by the Kansas Learning Center for Health.  Final weigh-ins for the Oslimpics were Monday, and according to organizer Diana Schutte the participants collectively lost 672 pounds.

“I’m a little relieved it’s over with, but I’m hearing positive responses,” Schutte said. “I hope people enjoyed it.”

The Oslimpics was an eight-week fitness challenge where teams of four competed to see who could log the most minutes of exercise, earning bonus minutes by completing fitness or nutrition challenges and cooking healthy recipes. The goal is to lose weight and build healthy lifestyle habits.

“More people lost a significant amount of weight this year,” Schutte said. “We had people lose 30 pounds or 11 or 13 pounds.”

In individual results, Joni Mariche from the team Fat Bottom Girls lost the most weight—32 pounds. John Werner was close behind with 30 pounds lost.

In team results, first-place went to the Not So Slim Shadys of Newton, comprised of Carrie Claassen, Carla Back, Ann Bates and Melissa Siemens. Their prize was $100 each, plus their registration fee back.

To continue reading, please see this week's print edition.

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Wendling And Cain Hope History Book Released This Year

Posted 3/8/2018

By Pilar Martin

HALSTEAD—A new book on the history of Halstead is in the works. The book is being written by Norma Wendling and Elizabeth Cain. Wendling was a longtime writer for the Independent. Cain served as the local librarian for many years.

After seeing inconsistencies in other books on Halstead’s history, Wendling decided she wanted to set the record straight. The two have been working on the book for four-and-a-half years and hope to finish it up this fall.

Cain’s job was to track down leads and get information for the book. Wendling’s job has been to compile the information and type up pages. Wendling doesn’t use a computer. She already broke one typewriter and is working on a second.

The book will feature the history of the town from 1873 through 2017.

“We wanted to tell how and why people came here, how the town got its name, and how the town was established and grew,” Wendling said.

Wendling said Quakers were the first to inhabit the area, settling near what is now the Fairview Cemetery.

To continue reading, please see this week's print edition.

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