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Class 3A Boys Championship: Hesston Reloads to Secure a 3A Three-peat

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By: Brad Hallier, KSHSAA Covered Contributor

 

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSHSAA Covered) – There were a lot of questions surrounding the Hesston boys before the season started.

Could the Swathers adequately replace maybe the best senior classes in school history? Would there be any sort of transition issue under first-year coach Garrett Roth? And would the Swathers be capable of winning a third straight state title?

The answers, in order, are yes, no, and an emphatic yes.

If you thought Hesston would take a step back this year, you were sorely mistaken. The Swathers won their final 25 games and completed a Class 3A threepeat, as they beat Marysville 50-44 on Saturday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.

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First-year coach Roth, a Hesston alumnus who coached the last few years under Greg Raleigh, was justifiably overcome with emotions. He helped the Swathers win the 2014 3A title as a player, then was an assistant for the last two state championship teams.

“It means the world to me,” Roth said. “I grew up here, I played here, I coached here as an assistant … I can’t describe what it means to me and my family.”

The senior class can echo that sentiment. Playing behind a senior class of seven the last two seasons, most of this year’s seniors — with the exception of all-state guard Jake Proctor — were reserves or junior varsity players the last two seasons.

But that doesn’t mean they were below-average players. After all, they practiced daily against players who won two straight titles.

“A lot went into the practices too,” senior forward Micah Dahlsten said with a smile. “Every day, we were practicing against the back-to-back state champions.”

Thus, even though Hesston may not have been the most experienced team, in terms of varsity minutes, the Swathers still had ample talent and were well-prepared.

That showed in the final stats. Proctor had another stellar game with 15 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds, while Dahlsten added to his legacy as “Mr. Fourth Quarter” by scoring seven of his 11 points in the final eight minutes. Five other Swathers scored, and seven had at least one rebound.

“With Hesston, you start with (Proctor),” Marysville coach Scott Brown said. “My gosh. I don’t know if those shots he made touched the rim. He’s a great player. Fundamentally, they’re sound. That’s just a heck of a team. My hat’s off to them.”

Marysville had used a smothering, handcuffing defense all season in improving from 10-12 to 23-3 and state runner-up. Only three times in 26 games did the Bulldogs allow more than 50 points.

Through three quarters, Marysville’s defense was on point, as the Swathers led 29-27. But Proctor’s passing and Dahlsten’s two 3-pointers helped get Hesston off to a quick start in the fourth, and the Swathers soon built a double-digit lead.

“We knew we had to want it,” Dahlsten said. “We were a little complacent, and coach asked who wanted it more in the huddle. And we also have Jake Proctor. It’s been absolutely a pleasure playing with him.”

Marysville never went away, even after falling behind by 11 points with 50 seconds left. The Bulldogs just couldn’t get any sustained offense going, as they finished shooting 37.8% and turned it over 14 times. Will Otott led the Bulldogs with 11 points.

“Our shooting percentage was down, but that happens when you play these kinds of teams at the state tournament,” Brown said. “(Wichita) Collegiate speeds you up with their pressure, Galena is so big, and Hesston is in your face all the time. They just make it difficult for you.”

It wasn’t as easy as Hesston may have made it look at times this season. Nobody wins one state championship, let alone three in a row, without some adversity. But this season, even with a lot of unknown faces to people outside Hesston, the Swathers were good enough to win another title.

“They’re winners,” Roth said. “These guys know how to win. All they wanted was to end the season in Hutch on Saturday with a win.”