Beavers' Kite repeats as Telegram's boys' POY
By BRETT MARSHALL
It would be hard to imagine that by the time Drew Kite's four-year playing career at Scott City concluded, he would be a 1,114-point scorer and finish with just under 700 rebounds (699).
But that's exactly what the 6-4, 220-pound post player accomplished as he played an integral part of the Beavers' run to three consecutive state Class 3A championships.
Incrementally, Kite improved by leaps and bounds in each of his four seasons — playing limited varsity time as a freshman and scoring just 16 points. As a reserve for most of his sophomore season, Kite scored 185 points, and by his junior year as a full-time starter, he exploded for 405 points. He topped his career off with 516 points his senior campaign.
Saving his best for last, Kite averaged a double-double with 19.9 points and 10.1 rebounds. He shot 69 percent from the field this season while also being a 75 percent free-throw shooter.
After sharing The Telegram's 2012 Player of the Year honors with fellow teammate Brett O'Neil as a junior, Kite's consistency throughout the season was just enough of a separation for him to garner the honor individually this year.
He continues the run of Scott City players earning the top award by The Telegram, following in the footsteps of Ron Baker, now playing basketball at Wichita State, who won both football and basketball awards in his senior year of 2010-11. Scott City's Colborn Couchman garnered the top football honor in 2012.
"As a sophomore I had trouble with my hamstring," Kite said when talking about his marked improvement from his early years. "It wasn't pulled, but it just wasn't very strong. It kept me from squatting, which kept me from lifting much. I couldn't jump very well at all."
Between his sophomore and junior seasons, though, Kite worked on stretching and strengthening the hamstring and eventually accomplished that goal.
"My legs got stronger. I got my squat up and I got better," Kite said. "My game just kinda came along. By my senior year, I had been around the game enough, I knew what was going on. I just evolved as a player."
Kite was a model of consistency in both scoring and rebounding for the Beavers, who fashioned their third straight 25-1 won-loss record. He scored in double figures in all 26 games, with a season high of 29 with a low of 13. His top rebounding effort was 18 and he compiled 15 double-doubles.
Kite said that in the first couple of days after claiming the team's third straight title, he was still amazed at the accomplishment.
"We weren't even ranked at the start of the season when we were sophomores," he recalled. "To do something that nobody else has done is a pretty awesome feeling."
When the Beavers capped off their three-peat, they became the first Class 3A boys team to do so.
"I think there was more pressure that we put on ourselves, because we knew how much we wanted this," Kite said. "This was not just for us, but for the community and the fans. Everybody would still love us if we didn't win it, but the pressure was mostly what we felt from wanting to win another one."
Kite said he first had dreams of state championships when he was a fifth grader, watching the Beaver team led by Corbin Kuntzsch, Tim Peintner and Justin Miller winning the Class 4A championship in Salina.
"I went there with my dad and watched," Kite recalled. "They were great. We kinda dreamed about winning, like most kids. You never really know. You work your butt off and see what happens. It never really gets old. You just keep working hard."
Noted for their teamwork, defense and passing skills, the Beavers found their moxie in the 74-55 thumping of Humboldt in the championship game.
"Coach (Glenn O'Neil), before we went out, said something like, 'we haven't talked about it in a year. We can talk about it now. It's here. Do what we've had in the back of our minds for a year now.' I thought we played great. We did exactly what we wanted to do, and got it done."
The third basketball title capped off a banner senior year for Kite, who also was named The Telegram's 2012 Area Player of the Year in football. He caught the winning touchdown pass in the Beavers' 28-21 victory over Silver Lake to help the Beavers claim their first state football title in more than two decades.
While being courted by both college football and basketball coaches, Kite had decided to look more seriously at the basketball options for the next level.
"I love basketball. I love football," Kite said. "I think I'm better in football, but my heart's more in basketball. It was tough to make a decision. I don't know if it's right, but it's the one I've made."
Kite said he hoped to make a final decision on his college choice sometime within the next few weeks.
During the four-year run of success in the two sports, the Beavers were 46-3 in football and 92-9 in basketball.
"To win four is just like crazy," Kite said with a smile. "It's been a great ride."