HILLSBORO — The Hesston High School boys' basketball team hasn't been in a lot of close games this season.
The top-ranked (Class 3A) Swathers were given one of their biggest tests this season Saturday against fifth-ranked Holcomb in the finals of the Hillsboro Trojan Classic.
Down 48-47 with 4:30 remaining, the Swathers made a 10-4 run to pull out a 57-51 win to remain unbeaten. Hesston hit six of six free throws in the final minutes to improve to 12-0.
"They're a good team," Hesston coach Greg Raleigh said. "I was a little concerned about their size. I thought we handled that pretty well. (Heath) Tucker is a great player. He's an athlete. Ryan (Schadler) did a good job guarding him. Ryan got into a little foul trouble there. I'm glad we hit free throws down the stretch. We had some trouble earlier. We missed like four in a row, and let them back into it."
Hesston finished the game 21 of 43 from the field and 13 of 19 from the line. Holcomb, 9-3, was 19 of 40 from the field and nine of 17 from the line.
Wyatt McKinney led the Swathers with 20 points and eight rebounds. Grant Raleigh added 17 points.
"We have to give them a lot of credit," McKinney said. "We kind of let up on defense a little. ... I loved the atmosphere. It was a championship game in a tournament against a good team. We may see them again in the state tournament."
"Wyatt put them up well," Greg Raleigh said. "Wyatt had a big game. We needed that out of him.
Tucker led Holcomb with 21 points.
Despite a cold start from the field, the Swathers jumped out 10-4 in the first five minutes of play. After a Holcomb time out, the Longhorns scored a quick basket, but the Swathers finished the period with four points to lead 14-6.
Hesston turned the ball over on its first two possessions, allowing Holcomb a 4-0 run. A Scott Schmidt layup off a turnover tied the game 18-18 with 4:02 left in the half. Hesston got back out by five, but a pair of Tucker free throws cut that lead to three at the half, 26-23. Joseph Jarnagin missed three free throws with two seconds left in the half for Holcomb.
Hesston scored the first six points of the second half. With the Swathers up by nine, Holcomb got as close a one. A Ryan Schadler trey got Hesston back up by four with 2:13 remaining in the period.
Tied in the final minute of the quarter, Grant Raleigh scored a trey and a layup off a steal. Tucker ended the scoring in the quarter with a pair of free throws. Hesston was three of eight from the line in the period.
After trading baskets early in the second quarter, Holcomb made a 6-0 run capped by a Tucker layup to give Holcomb its first lead of the game with 4:30 remaining in regulation.
After a Swather time out, Hesston replied with a McKinney layup and a pair of Grant Raleigh free throws. Hesston missed a couple chances to get the lead extended. Tucker then hit one of two free throws with 1:12 in regulation.
"It was like calm down," McKinney said of the time out. "We're alright. We just needed to do something our next possession. We needed to play solid D, don't panic."
After a pair of McKinney free throws, Tucker hit a pair of free throws. Grant Raleigh then hit a pair of free throws with 32.8 seconds remaining.
Holcomb then turned the ball over, setting up two McKinney free throws with 17.1 seconds remaining, sealing the Swather win.
"That was the first time we've gotten behind in the first quarter all year," Greg Raleigh said. "It was good to see how we responded. We got some stops. I like coming over to this tournament. We see good teams. I have no doubt if we go into the post season, we will see them again. They are very well coached."
Hesston takes a week off and plays Saturday at Hoisington, which joins the Central Kansas League as a full-time member next year. The Cardinals are 4-7 after a 1-2 finish at their home tournament.
"We need the time off," Greg Raleigh said. "We have some bumps and bruises. ... We only have six home games this year. We have some tough ones coming up. We have to go to Pratt. We have to come back to Hillsboro. We still have to keep working to get better. We have to get better in execution. Holcomb switched screens, which gave us trouble."
HOLCOMB (9-3) — VanCleave 3-8 0-0 8, Merz 0-0 0-0 0, Richmeier 2-3 0-2 4, Jarnagin 1-1 0-3 2, Schmidt 1-2 0-0 2, Rupp 0-2 0-0 0, Sleep 4-10 1-2 9, Tucker 6-10 8-10 21, Gottschalk 2-4 0-0 5, TOTALS 19-40 9-17 51.
HESSTON (12-0) — McKinney 8-13 4-7 20, Simpson 0-2 0-0 0, Schadler 3-7 1-2 8, Smith 2-2 2-2 6, McCartney 2-4 0-2 4, Rostetter 0-0 0-0 0, Duerksen 1-3 0-0 2, Raleigh 5-12 6-6 17, TOTALS 21-43 13-19 57.
Holcomb 6 17 17 11 —51
Hesston 14 11 17 14 —57
Total fouls — Hol. 16, Hes. 12. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — Hol. 4-15 (VanCleave 2-6, Richmeier 0-1, Schmidt 0-1, Rupp 0-2, Tucker 1-4, Gottschalk 1-1), Hes. 2-10 (McKinney 0-1, Schadler 1-2, McCartney 0-1, Duerksen 0-2, Raleigh 1-4). Rebounds — Hol. 26 (VanCleave 7), Hes. 21 (McKinney 8). Assists — Hol. 11 (Tucker 5), Hes. 7 (McCartney 2, Raleigh 2). Turnovers — Hol. 19 (Gottschalk 5), Hes. 12 (McCartney 6). Blocked shots — Hol. 4 (VanCleave 2), Hes. 2 (Simpson 1, Smith 1). Steals — Hol. 2 (Rupp 1, Tucker 1), Hes. 8 (McKinney 4).