ARAPAHO – One year after getting a bye in the first round and cruising to an easy, district title win over Sterling, the No. 19 Arapaho-Butler girls’ basketball team (13-9 overall) had to take a difficult path, to try and win a secondstraight title.
The Lady Indians defeated Sentinel, 43- 14, Friday night in the elimination game, at home, to clinch a spot in the district title and in the regional tourney. However, they’d have to defeat Waukomis (16-4) Saturday, to keep their district championship crown.
Entering the fourth quarter, it looked like that wasn’t going to happen, as A-B trailed a hot-shooting Lady Chiefs’ squad, 34-21. Then, Katie Edelen took over.
A-B’s leading scorer didn’t score a single point in the first half. She started to find her rhythm in the third with eight points, but it’s the fourth quarter where she exploded for 14. She’d force a turnover and go coast-to-coast for either a layup or get fouled and sink her free throws.
Waukomis held a nine-point advantage midway through the final frame. After a timeout, A-B switched to its full-court trap defense and created chaos. They went on a 14-6 run to get within one point with seconds to play.
Edelen was the catalyst, but her fellow starters hit some of the biggest shots down the stretch. Abigail Casas sunk a threepointer from the left corner, to make it a 42-39 Waukomis’ lead.
On the next possession, Bailey Walker snagged an entry pass, calmly gathered herself and hit a midrange jumper, to keep the lead within striking distance, 44-41.
Waukomis threw the ball away thanks to A-B’s relentless pressure, and the chance to tie the game or cut the lead down was there. Edelen found a wide open Addison Friesen, off an inbounds play, and she made the layup.
Down 44-43 with 12 seconds to play, A-B had to get the ball back. Friesen fouled Brynlee Cue to put Waukomis in the bonus. Cue went to the line with a one-and-one opportunity, with six seconds to play.
The attempt clanged off the back iron and out. Edelen fired a pass to Brecken Hunter for a deep two. Her shot glanced off the rim, but Edelen sprinted the length of the floor, pulled down the rebound and put it up and in at the buzzer to send the gym into a frenzy.
The A-B girls had captured their second consecutive district title, and head coach Christy Edelen was in joyous disbelief.
“I’m not even sure how that happened,” she said with a grin, after the win. “Waukomis did a great job. They just kept making outside shots, and we were thinking the law of averages was going to catch up with them at some time. But, they kept hitting.
“All of our girls stepped up. Katie had a good second half, but Addison hit a big shot. Bailey hit a big shot. Everyone kept contributing. It’s been such a tough year, but I told our girls after the game, it made it all worthwhile…”
The No. 3 Arapaho-Butler boys (15-6) proved once again why they’re one of the most consistent powers in Class A. Matched against a solid Waukomis squad (13-7) for the district title, the Indians never even allowed it to get close in a 58-36 district title win, the seventh consecutive title in this run of success.
Junior Brett Griffith had a field day in the first two frames. A-B boys’ head basketball coach Logan Rogers said Griffith is good at finding open spots in zones, and he did that.
A-B got out in transition a lot, and senior point guard Ethan Pyron would find him with perfectly-placed assists. It looked easy. Griffith scored 14 in the first and had 23 at half.
Once Waukomis focused on him, it opened up looks for others, including Pyron, who had nearly netted a triple double on the night with 10 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds against just one turnover.
Defensively, A-B’s Wesley Flores and Brock Walker held down 6-foot-7, 335-pound, Cooper Wieden. Despite being outmatched by almost half a foot in height, they held him to 15 points.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a complete game, and we needed it,” Rogers said. “We had a couple good weeks of practice. The guys kinda got back into shape after missing a little time.
“We came out with great energy and great effort and just played well on both ends of the floor. A couple different guys stepped up for us at different times. It was good.”