Stanton County’s first state tournament appearance in Class 2A boys basketball since 2000 was short-lived as the Trojans fell behind early and were unable to play catch up, falling to No. 2-seeded West Elk, 56-46, in a quarterfinal opener at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
Cold shooting plagued the Trojans (16-7), as they could manage just 19-of-56 field goals overall (33.9 percent) and were about as cold as the North Pole from 3-point range, going 6 of 31 (19.4 percent).
West Elk (22-1) took an early lead, putting the Trojans in a 15-10 hole, and then things came unraveled in the second period when Stanton could only score two points while the Patriots put 14 on the board to take command 29-12.
Coach Shane Traughber’s halftime talk must have sparked the Trojans when they came out smoking in the third period, going on an 18-8 run to close their deficit to 37-32 heading to the fourth quarter.
Attempts to reach Traughber post-game were not returned Thursday.
Two different times they came within four points of the Pats, but couldn’t finish the comeback rally as West Elk won the fourth quarter 19-16 to finish with the 10-point advantage.
Junior Creed Puyear, the team’s leading scorer, finished with 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Trojans, and while six other players scored, none finished in double figures.
West Elk, which knocked down 9-of-22 treys, finished 16 of 36 from the field for 44.4 percent. The Patriots ended with a 32-29 rebounding margin.
Stanton County committed just 10 turnovers to 15 for West Elk.
If any one needed to look at the final outcome and a stat with a big impact on the outcome, look no further than free throws.
The Patriots finished hitting 15 of 18 from the charity stripe while the Trojans were only 2 of 4. West Elk was whistled for only five fouls as opposed to 16 for Stanton County.
West Elk advances to Friday’s semifinal and was to take on the winner of the later Thursday game between Pittsburg-St. Marys Colgan and Plainville.