HAYS — After falling in the Class 1A Division I title game a year ago, every one around the South Gray boys basketball team knew the Rebels were in store for big things in the 2017-18 season.
Even so, an undefeated season was never a goal South Gray talked about, even after the Rebels started breezing through every opponent they faced.
“I knew we had great things coming this year, but there was no plan to go undefeated," South Gray star senior Gilbert Peters said.
The Rebels went ahead and made it happen anyway, cementing their dream season with a 65-54 win over Hanover on Saturday in the 1A D1 title game at Gross Memorial Coliseum in Hays.
“We just took it one possession at a time, and we’re glad we got an undefeated season," Peters said. "We’re happy it turned out the way it did.”
Led by the tandem of Clifton Miller and Peters, South Gray finished 26-0, doing what no other Rebel team in school history had done.
Miller, a junior guard, scored a team-high 24 points. Peters, a 6-foot-6 forward, scored 23 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots.
It was South Gray’s fourth state championship and first since 2008.
“They’re the only team in South Gray history to go undefeated,” South Gray coach Mark Applegate said. “That says something for this team. And that’s going to be their legacy.”
In a rematch of last year’s title game, South Gray led 35-27 at halftime and led by as much as 17 in the third quarter. Hanover rallied to cut the lead to five with 1:45 left, but the Rebels put the Wildcats away with free throws and defensive stops.
“We knew that they would make a run when we went up (17),” Applegate said. “But we held on to the ball and made smart decisions, and we made our free throws.”
Austin Jantz joined Miller and Peters in double figures with 10 points.
“(Miller and Peters) played extremely well, but so did some support players,” Applegate said. “Brock Davis had (seven) rebounds and he kept No. 21 (Thomas Atkins) in check. And Marcelo Neufeld came in there in the second quarter when Gilbert picked up his second foul. (Austin) Jantz played really well. We had some guys really step up.”
Both teams were an identical 19 of 44 from the field, but South Gray went 23 of 28 from the foul line while Hanover was 12 of 16.
Hanover finished the year 22-1. The Wildcats were led by Daiken Stallbaumer’s 16 points.