HUTCHINSON — What a ride it has been.
When the final seconds of a dominant 74-55 victory over Humboldt's Cubs produced the Scott City Beavers' third consecutive Class 3A boys state basketball championship on Saturday night at the Sports Arena, it brought the curtain down on perhaps one of the great four-year careers for a senior class in Kansas prep history.
It's one thing to string together championships in a single sport for multiple years — such as occasionally happens in football, and certainly more infrequent in basketball.
But when one school, with one dominant class, does it in two sports, with some overflow into other sports, it is worth pushing the pause button to examine what has just been accomplished.
There were nine seniors on the 2012-2013 Scott City boys basketball roster — Brett O'Neil, Brenner Wells, Colten Yager, Tyler Hess, Austin Habiger, Anthony Wilson, Joey Meyer, Drew Kite and Collin Ratzlaff.
O'Neil, the oldest of two sons to play for coach Glenn O'Neil in both football and basketball, was a reserve on the Beavers when he was just a freshman. O'Neil started his sophomore year, while Meyer and Kite played key roles as well, when the Beavers won the first of their three in a row titles on a team dominated by Ron Baker. Tyler Hess moved into the starting lineup a year ago, as did Meyer and Kite, joining then senior Braeden Robinson.
In each of the three seasons, the Beavers finished 25-1, making it a multiplication conversion to 75-3 (.962) record.
Of those nine seniors, six of them — O'Neil, Wells, Yager, Hess, Kite and Ratzlaff — were starters on the 2012 Scott City football state championship team, also coached by Glenn O'Neil. While that group was winning on the gridiron, Meyer was helping lead his Scott City boys cross country team to a 3A state runner-up finish with a fifth-place individual finish. In February of 2012, several members of this graduating class were part of the Class 3-2-1A Beaver state championship wrestling team. This year, Alex Kough (126 pounds) with a third-place finish and Michael McEachern (285 pounds) with a fourth-place, helped the Beavers mat squad to a fourth-place team finish.
Some of the same kids were on the Beavers' fourth-place track and field team at the 2012 state meet in Wichita.
There are lasting impressions aplenty with this special group of seniors.
First, when they were up-and-coming eighth graders, it is likely some, perhaps all, were in the stands at O.L. Darner Field when the 2008 Beavers let an 11-point lead with two minutes remaining slip away to Garden Plain in a 3A quarterfinal game. For the next three years, football playoffs in the quarterfinal round only provided heartbreak and anguish for the Beavers. In 2009, they lost to Wichita Collegiate, again in the last minute of the game. In 2010, they lost a second-round game to Smith Center the day after coach O'Neil's father died. In 2011, it was Conway Springs who ended their playoff bid, again in the quarterfinals, and on the road.
Then in 2012, the Beavers finally climbed to the peak of the mountain and put their flag atop Class 3A football with a stunning 28-21 victory over Silver Lake, a game in which they had trailed 21-0 in the first half. Somehow, overcoming illness and injury, the Beavers rallied to produce the school's first football title in more than two decades.
Not that the football heartbreak affected basketball. Basketball was its own season. Maybe it was due in part to coach O'Neil leading both programs. Coaching one sport is tough enough. Coaching two is perhaps akin to asking someone to hit you over the head with a ballpeen hammer and then ask, why did I do that?
In his six years of double-duty, O'Neil's football teams are 63-10. This group of seniors who were on four of those teams, produced a remarkable record of 46-3 (.939), losing those two quarterfinal games, one second-round contest and then finishing off in style with a 14-0 record en route to the 2012 title. They never lost a home game — regular season or playoff — in their four years.
On the basketball court, Brett O'Neil was the only player of this group who was on the varsity roster when the Beavers went 17-6. From there, the Beavers blossomed with their three straight 25-1 records and state championships. In his 17 seasons, O'Neil has compiled a 306-101 record (.752) at Scott City. Cumulatively, this senior class was part of a basketball program that was 92-9 (.911). Combine the football/basketball records for their freshman through senior seasons, and this Beaver group was 138-12 (.920). Last time I checked, that grades out to an 'A.'
The final analysis will be discussed through the ensuing years and decades. But suffice it to say, this will be remembered as one of the great runs for one class in Kansas football and basketball history.
Thanks for the memories.
Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org