Editor's Note: This is the ninth in a series of articles highlighting the Top 10 sports stories of 2017 as voted upon by The Telegram Staff.
The No. 2 story profiles the Hugoton Eagles girls basketball team, which swept through an undefeated season at 26-0 to win the Class 3A state title in Hutchinson in mid-March.
HUTCHINSON — Hugoton had no time to fraternize. The Eagle girls knew they had unfinished business to complete.
A year removed from a 53-42 upset loss in the semifinals last season to eventual champion Clay Center, Hugoton wrapped its mind around a single goal to wash off the stench of defeat.
“We started working right away as soon as the season was over,” said Hugoton coach Andy Gillen. “That’s all we talked about, and that’s all we worked toward for months now.”
When the whistle was blown after the opening tip Saturday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena, the Eagles soared to a 15-0 run and never looked back on their way to a 59-37 victory in the Class 3A State championship to finish the season 26-0.
“We were jacked,” Gillen said on the furious start. “We’ve been waiting for this moment. We’ve been like caged animals for about three and a half months. Ever since the semifinals, we finally had a chance to get the taste out of our mouths. You could see it in that first quarter.”
Hugoton compiled a 49-2 record in the last two seasons.
The first quarter spelled the end for Cheney. Hugoton led 21-2 after the first buzzer and 37-13 at halftime. Hugoton shot 48.4 percent in the first half, hitting 4-of-9 from downtown.
Two players outscored Cheney on their own for the Eagles. Senior Katy Heger had 12 points, and Sydney Hein had 11 at the break.
“I just had lots of fire going on,” Heger said. “I really wanted the win, not only for me, but for our team. This is a special win, and everyone was fired up about it.”
Heger finished the game with 15 points. She gave her team a bit of a scare when she banged heads with a Cheney player in a dive for a loose ball in the second half. She had to be helped off the court, but she returned to action in the fourth quarter.
Dallie Hoskinson took over during Heger’s absence. Hoskinson finished the game with a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double.
“Last year kind of pumped us up for this year to get the state championship, and that’s what we did,” Hoskinson said. “It felt good and made us hyped the rest of the way.”
Cheney went on a brief 6-0 run to get the game under 20, but the Cardinals never threatened the Eagles, who never trailed.
“This is a player-led team,” Gillen said. “This is a team that has very strong leadership. The girls did this, and the girls led the way. I just had a really good seat. I’m very, very proud of them, and it was an honor to be a part of it.”
Note: After the season, Gillen would resign his position and head to southeast Kansas to coach. Heger was voted Kansas Miss Basketball and earned a scholarship to Washburn University. Scott signed to play at Seward County and Hein earned a scholarship to play at Oklahoma City Christian.