Riley County prepares for undefeated Hugoton

By Maria McIlwain

Even though many players on the Riley County girls basketball team have grown up around state-tournament teams, only one Falcon — senior Bethany Crubel — has ever played at state.

Riley County will make its 13th state tournament appearance and first since 2014 on Wednesday. The No. 8-seed Falcons (15-8) will take on undefeated No. 1-seed Hugoton (23-0) at 3 p.m. in Hutchinson.

“Hugoton is an excellent team,” Riley County head coach Harold Oliver said. “They had a great season. They have great players.”

He characterized the Eagles’ style as “helter skelter” and said his team will have to make good decisions with the ball.

Hugoton beat Cimarron, 67-39, to advance to the state tournament, while Riley County edged St. Marys, 47-41, on Saturday.

Riley County finished third in the Mid-East standings with a 7-3 record in league play.

The Falcons started their season off strong, but lost four games in a row in February. However, they picked back up, winning their last five straight.

Oliver is pleased with his team’s progress and said the state tournament is a nice reward for his team’s hard work this year.

Crubel leads Riley County in scoring with 15.5 points per game and is the only Falcon averaging in double-figure scoring.

Oliver said his team had to adjust after losing junior guard Tory Thomson to an injury about three weeks ago, but he feels they have rallied.

“We really feel like our team has responded well,” he said. “Kids are playing really well within themselves.”

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