By Mark Schnabel
Newton Kansan
HALSTEAD — The Halstead Dragon boys’ basketball team got hot early and answered the bell when threatened, claiming a 62-47 win over the Cheney Cardinals Saturday in the championship game of the 40th Adolph Rupp Invitational.
Halstead went nine for 19 from 3-point range, while Cheney was three of 13.
“To beat a team like Cheney, you have to play very well,” Halstead coach Joe Gerber said. “We did play very well. It was our entire team. You just can’t guard one person. We played so unselfish. I don’t know how many assists we had, but we had a bunch.”
Jared Regehr was the top bomber for the Dragons, hitting five of eight from long range for 22 points. Regehr helped to break things open in the second quarter with 11 points, hitting three treys.
“We knew Cheney was a great team ,and we had to come ready to play,” Regehr said. “We played well together. We made shots, and they didn’t. We still have to give Cheney credit. They are a great team.”
Cody Ratcliffe added 13 points. Ratcliffe broke the Cardinals’ back with a layup off a steal at the end of the third quarter and a layup on a long inbounds-pass to beat the Cheney press in the fourth quarter.
“You can’t execute that (inbounds play) any better than that,” Gerber said. “I’m sure we stole that from somebody.”
Cheney, 9-3, was led by 6-foot-5 junior Sean Osler with 22 points and Taylor Beilman with 12. Osler went 10 of 22 from the field. He was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“He is a great player and definitely deserved the MVP award,” Regehr said. “I don’t know how many he ended up with. He played well tonight. Every team we play is bigger than us. Our tallest player is 6-1. We have to fight to box out. We had to box out well in the second half.”
“We’re almost always outmatched in terms of size,” Gerber said. “We can’t say, ‘You guard him and you guard him.’ It’s always got to be we guard them. There’s no one person who can shut Osler down. We can’t assume we’re always going to make the 3-point shot. We have to assume our defense and rebounding is always going to be there.”
Halstead hit from the outside early, taking a 17-12 lead at the end of the first period. Halstead made a 7-2 run to open the second quarter.
Halstead led by as many as 13 late in the half. An Osler layup late in the second period cut the Dragon advantage to 11 at the break, 37-26.
Halstead missed its first three shots in the second half, all from the outside, allowing a 5-0 Cheney run.  Regehr broke the run with a trey. A Ratcliffe layup off a Halstead steal put the Dragons up 52-38 at the end of the quarter.
“We knew they’d make a run because they are such a great team,” Regehr said. “We got some guys who could take care of things out there and make a run. It was fun out there.”
Cheney never threatened in the fourth quarter. Halstead finished the game with six turnovers.
“That is good fundamentals,” Gerber said. “That was outstanding.”
Halstead is 11-1 and hosts rival Hesston Feb. 2.
“Our first game out of the gate is Hesston,” Gerber said. “The MCAA is always a grind, but it prepares you for the sub-state tournament. Every night in the MCAA, if you don’t play well, you’re going to get beat. We put a target on ourselves now.”
THIRD PLACE — The Moundridge Wildcats needed a second-half comeback to edge Rose Hill 46-43 in the third-place game.
The Wildcats outscored Rose Hill 29-17 in the second half after trailing 26-17 at the break. It was Moundridge’s second straight close game against a Class 4A team, falling to Cheney Friday.
“We’ve had a couple of times this year where we had to come from behind from double-digit deficits,” Moundridge coach Vance Unrau said. “Against quality opponents, you don’t want to put yourselves in that position. I told them, ‘We’re not going to let them dictate the way we’re going to play. We’re going to pick it up aggressively on both ends of the floor.’ When we picked it up defensively, then we put ourselves in a position on the offensive end to get aggressive.”
Trey Unruh led Moundridge with 25 points, hitting 12 of 14 from the free throw line. He later won the tournament’s free throw contest. Austin Neufeld scored 10 points, and Jared Kaufman scored eight.
Neufeld hit a jumper from the free throw line with 1:47 remaining that put the Wildcats up for good.
Tyler Shirley led Rose Hill with 13 points. Dillon Rapp added 12.
“It was very physical,” Vance Unrau said. “In that regard, it wasn’t very pretty, but I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty. I thought our guys kept their composure. They were bigger than us. ... We were giving up some size, but we have some strength inside in Neufeld and Kaufman.”
Moundridge is 11-1 and plays Feb. 2 at Bennington.
“This is such a high-quality tournament this year,” Vance Unrau said. “Nobody came in with an under-.500 record. Our goal in any mid-season tournament is to win two games. To get into the championship game is gravy. We were disappointed to lose last night but to turn around in a short amount a time to come back, this is a quality win for us.”
Championship game
CHENEY (9-3) — Williams 0 1-2 4, 1; Beilman 1 (2) 4-6 1, 12; Hubener 0 0-0 0, 0; Scheer 0 0-0 1, 0; Bolinger 1 0-0 1, 2; Alstrom 0 2-2 0, 2; Hill 3 2-3 2, 8; Miller 0 0-0 2, 0; Osler 9 (1) 1-2 4, 22; Hopper 0 0-0 4, 0; TOTALS 14 (3) 10-15 19, 47.
HALSTEAD (11-1) — Ratcliffe 4 (1) 2-2 4, 13; Regehr 1 (5) 5-8 1, 22; Solis 0 0-0 0, 0; McKee 2 (1) 1-2 4, 8; Pjesky 0 (2) 0-0 1, 6; Gundy 0 2-2 3, 2; Santoya 3 3-3 2, 9; Becker 0 2-2 1, 2; TOTALS 10 (9) 15-19 16, 62.
Cheney    12    14    12    9    —47
Halstead    17    20    15    10    —62
Third place
ROSE HILL (8-4) — Ptitchard 0 0-0 2, 0; Braddy 0 0-0 0, 0; Shriley 4 5-7 3, 13; Khlaidi 0 (1) 0-0 3, 3; Rapp 4 4-4 5, 12; Newton 2 (1) 0-2 1, 7; Richards 0 0-0 1, 0; Foltz 2 0-0 0, 4; Paddock 2 0-0 1, 4; TOTALS 14 (2) 9-13 13, 43.
MOUNDRIDGE (12-1) — Loganbill 0 1-1 1, 1; Unrau 2 (3) 12-14 2, 25; Sugars 0 0-0 5, 0; Otte 1 0-0 0, 2; J.Kaufman 3 2-2 4, 8; Neufeld 2 (2) 0-0 1, 10; TOTALS 8 (5) 15-17 13, 46.
Rose Hill    15    11    9    8    —43
Moundridge    11    6    15    14    —46
Fifth place
INMAN — Jak.Friesen 4, Goering 5, Wenthie 5, Martin 12, Ropp 13, Corn 8.
HAVEN — Childs 5, Callon 17, Foster 6, Borntrager 3, Snodgrass 6, Osborn 19.
Inman    7    16    13    11    —47
Haven    12    18    11    15    —56
Seventh place
ANDALE — Hermreck 16, Bergkamp 7, Meyer 7, Hawkins 7, Rock 2, Meierhoff 6, Schiff 10, Bogner 2, Archer 2.
GARDEN PLAIN — Klausmeyer 3, E.Kerchen 2, Becker 10, Bugner 9, Sponcel 5, Hartshorn 1, Crabtree 2, C.Kerschen 3, Manneback 6, May 1.
Andale    19    16    18    12    —61
Garden Pl .    6    9    16    11    —42