EMPORIA — Not many senior high school basketball players can lay claim to having won their final game of each season during their careers.
But Brooklyn Harper, JoHanna Rawlins and Laney Hoskinson can make that case.
Those three Hugoton girls ended their stellar high school careers here Saturay afternoon with a resounding 64-43 victory over Marysville to capture the third-place trophy of Class 4A-II.
That ending goes with a 2015 Class 4A-II state title, a third-place finish in 2016 and last year’s 26-0 run to capture the Class 3A title in Hutchinson.
“We knew we lost a lot of players from last year’s team and then we lost Dallie (Dallie Hoskinson, the team’s top returner who tore her ACL in the opening game of the season), and we wanted to prove everybody wrong that we could still be a good team,” Harper said in the celebratory moments afterward. “There was a lot of pressure, and I think we worked hard and improved every day.”
For first-year coach Emmanuel Adigun, Saturday’s win was a capstone to a tough, but satisfying seasons.
“Best game we played all year, all year,” Adigun said. “We haven’t had all three (seniors) play well on the same night all year…until today.”
Harper, Rawlins and Laney Hoskinson (Dallie’s twin sister) combined for 45 points, 23 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Eagles to their 17th win of the season against 8 losses.
Rawlins dished out eight assists as the Eagles finished with 15 assists on 22 made baskets.
“Third-place games are always the hardest,” said Harper, who shared team-high honors with Rawlins with 16 points and had 12 rebounds. “You’re coming back from a tough loss, and I thought we just played harder and wanted to finish with a win.”
Hoskinson drained all three of her 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the Eagles comfortably in front every time the Bulldogs tried to mount a comeback.
“We just tried to keep our defensive pressure up and knew they’d crack at some point,” Harper said of forcing the Bulldogs into 17 miscues, despite committing 19 of their own, but only five in the second half.
Leading 26-19 at halftime, the Eagles opened the third on a 10-2 run to open up a 15-point lead and finished the quarter up 38-28.
The Eagles saved their best for the fourth quarter, erupting for 26 points. The 21-point final margin was the biggest of the game.
Marysville got a game-high 20 points from Sydney Pacha while Samantha Bartels had 13 points and 19 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who finish 18-6.
Marysville hit just 15 of 60 field goals (25 percent), was 3 of 15 from deep (20 percent) and only 10 of 22 at the free throw line (45.5 percent). The Eagles, meanwhile, hit 22 of 51 (43.1 percent) from the field, were 10 of 20 from behind the arc (50 percent) and hit 10 of 18 free throws after a tough night in Friday’s semifinal at the stripe (13 of 32).
“This is a testament to these kids because of how the season started,” Adigun said. “The mentality and willpower of these girls is pretty amazing. They overcame so much.”
Harper said she and her senior teammates hoped to leave a lasting legacy of hard work and perseverance.
“I think we left a good foundation of leadership for our underclassmen,” she said. “The underclassmen we have worked their butts off this year and are deserving of having a chance to carry on what we’ve been a part of. We work as a team a lot more, and I thought our bigs (Rawlins and freshman Jordyn Beard, 10 rebounds) played really well.”
Notes: Hugoton’s four-year run of winning its final game went like this: 2015: 4A-II state championship win over Baldwin (68-54); 2016: third place win over Girard in 4A-II (61-59); 2017: 3A state championship win over Cheney (59-37); and Saturday’s win over Marysville (64-43).
The four-years of this senior class produced seasons of 22-2, 23-2, 26-0 and 17-8 for a career record of 88-12.
Contact Brett Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org