MARSHALL: Enjoy Beavers' final show

3/9/2013

The Scott City Beavers' boys basketball team is on the brink of making Class 3A history today.

The Scott City Beavers' boys basketball team is on the brink of making Class 3A history today.

At 6:15 p.m., they will face Humboldt for the 2013 championship at Hutchinson's Sports Arena.

No team since Kansas has gone to five classifications and now seven, has won three in a row in Class 3A. But after winning back-to-back titles in 2011 with Ron Baker and 2012 with nearly the same team that is on the floor today, the Beavers are in the place they have worked hard for all season.

In the championship game tonight against Humboldt, the Beavers will be facing a team that has yet to lose this season, owning a 25-0 record and the No. 1 seed in the tournament, yet still ranked behind Scott City in the state polls.

The Beavers have won 73 of their last 76 games, including the 2011 and 2012 state championship games. They were 17-5 when they were freshmen and had limited playing time, if any, with a team that included now Wichita State University red-shirt freshman Ron Baker.

Six of the nine seniors played on the 3A state football championship team that defeated Silver Lake 28-21 to win the school's first crown in more than 20 years. In the four years of their high school football career, this senior class lost only three games, including none in the regular season, and never lost a home game either in the regular season or playoffs.

So get in your car and drive to Hutchinson to watch. Don't miss this opportunity.

If ever a group of athletes — at the high school, college or professional level — exhibited the traits of teamwork, it is this group of Beavers. They quite honestly enjoy each other, are best of friends and they play together. Unselfish can be an overhyped word at times, but in this case it fits.

Coach Glenn O'Neil can tell you this first hand.

He has said on numerous occasions during this magical ride that the Beavers' success relies solely on their ability to work together, find the open player for an easy or easier shot, and not bother to look at the box score or individual statistics. Individual awards come when team success occurs, coach O'Neil believes.

Perhaps there have been more talented teams in Kansas in the past. But it has been a rare occasion where the word "team" has been more appropriate.

They've embodied the phrase, "the sum is greater than the parts."

If you're savvy enough, fortunate enough, to be in the crowd at today's 3A state championship game and watch the Beavers, enjoy the moment. Embrace it. Appreciate it.

And if by chance they go out and earn the three-peat, help them celebrate. If by another chance, they come up short, give them a big pat on the back and thank them for what they've accomplished.

Either way, we might not ever see anything like this group again in western Kansas.

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While reviewing brackets and scores late Thursday night, the first two days of the state tournaments across Kansas brought some interesting reflections on what transpired.

There are seven classifications for basketball in Kansas (way too many), and with both girls and boys competing that accounts for 28 first-round games for each gender at the different sites.

Of the 14 games involving the No. 1 vs. No. 8 seed, the No. 1 team went 14-0.

Only three of the No. 2 seeds lost. Only three No. 3 seeds lost. In the toughest matchups that one usually sees in an eight-team bracket, the No. 4 team won 10 times, the No. 5 team four.

While many people, coaches and fans alike whine and complain about the seedings (based on record only), it would appear that the decision by the state activities association generally works.

In four of the seven girls classifications, the top four-seeded teams won opening games. On the boys side, it was just two where the higher seeded teams made a clean sweep.

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Geography comes into play for the decision on where the different classifications compete in the state tournaments. Class 6A is at Koch Arena in Wichita, and while there were three Air Capital City girls teams in the semifinals, there was just one in the boys semis.

At Class 5A in Topeka, there was just one Wichita area school to advance while in the girls it was an even split of 2-2 for northeast Kansas vs. south-central Kansas teams.

In the Class 4A tourney at Salina, there were two eastern Kansas, one north-central and one south-central boys team to advance; on the girls side, there was one southeast Kansas, two central and one east-central Kansas team that won.

In Hutchinson, where I've camped out now for two days, it was one western Kansas, two northeast Kansas and one southeast Kansas boys team to come out of the first round while on the girls side there was one from the northeast, two from central and south-central and one from northwest Kansas.

Class 2A in Manhattan might have the most interesting geographic of all as two western Kansas boys teams, one north-central and one central Kansas team garnered wins while on the girls side there was one north-central, two central and one northeast Kansas team playing on Friday.

The Class 1A-Division I plays at White Auditorium in Emporia, and there it was one from east-central, one central, one southwest and one northwest on the girls side. In the boys division, the balance was two central/south-central, one northwest and one east-central.

Class 1A-Division II, the smaller of the two 1A divisions, there was one southwest Kansas team, one northwest, one south-central and one north-central. The boys, similarly, had one from the southwest, one from the northwest, and two from the east-central/northeast area of the state.

It would appear that the state has appropriately designated the right locations to host the state tourneys for each of those classes. Except in the case of 6A this year, where the 6A boys power seems to reside in the Kansas City area.

Today brings the curtain down on another basketball season — one filled with memories, big games, big wins and disappointing losses. Put this down in your memory book.

It was a very good year for basketball.

Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be emailed at bmarshall@gctelegram.com

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