EMPORIA — Martin Vogts couldn’t do it all himself.
The Rock Creek guard played all but two minutes in Wednesday’s 4A-II state quarterfinal loss to Hayden. He totaled 18 points. He even blocked the Wildcats’ Deshawn Hanika on one occasion in the third quarter, sending back a shot from the Hayden forward 3 inches taller than him.
Vogts finished with a stellar stat line that will read as 18-8-1, but the Mustangs were doomed by the most important stat: the 75-51 score.
Vogts only sat when he could do no more, in the final two minutes as he watched his team’s state run end hours after it began. Though responsible for a solid chunk of Rock Creek’s (18-5) scoring during the season and in the two sub-state wins, Vogts said he didn’t feel much pressure to score Wednesday afternoon.
“I knew if I go out there and play my game, and my teammates play their game, we’ll be all right,” he said.
That wasn’t the case for the Mustangs, though. Vogts, a junior, has another year to look forward to, and he said the loss hurt.
But his coach, Jim Johnston, described the locker room as an even gloomier place some 20 minutes after the game. The Mustangs have gone to state four straight years, a stretch that has yielded no titles.
Surrounded by a small scattering of stone-faced assistants, Johnston spoke in monotone.
“It’s sad. It is at the end of every year,” Johnston said. “It’s sad in here, and disappointing.”
Vogts received the most help in the second half, when senior guard Cooper Schlochtermeier posted 15 of his 20 points. Vogts managed just four points in the final two quarters, in no small part due to Hayden’s defense.
Ahead 32-26 at halftime, the Wildcats threw forward Deshawn Hanika and guard Kendall Sutton at Vogts, limiting him to a 6-for-24 shooting effort. If his defense wasn’t enough, Hanika tallied 28 points, including 13 in the third quarter, when the Wildcats outscored the Mustangs, 21-16.
Hayden outpaced Rock Creek 22-9 in the fourth frame and cruised to the win, getting 21 points from Zach Harvey and 11 points from Jett Canfield.
Johnston said it was the Wildcats’ electric athleticism that did his Rock Creek club in.
“All 10 of them are athletic and can score,” Johnston said. “Hanika, we just didn’t have an answer for him. He killed us underneath. We couldn’t stop him and didn’t stop him.”
The box score will suggest a blowout, but that was not the case in the first half. The Wildcats snared a lead as wide as 16 in the second quarter, but the Mustangs responded with a 7-0 run that trimmed the deficit to nine.
What followed included a scoring flurry from both sides, but Vogts’ floater in the first half’s final minute put a dent in Hayden’s lead.
The Wildcats awoke in the third frame, but their lead hovered around a manageable 11 points for the majority of the period.
For that reason, Johnston said he never felt completely out of it.
“We believed,” Johnston said.
But by the same token, Johnston recognized what killed any potential momentum: turnovers. Rock Creek finished with 15 of them. Vogts coughed it up four times alone.
“We had four or five turnovers in the third quarter that you just can’t have against a good team,” he said. “We knew that. You weren’t going to be able to turn over the ball. We’ve been to several state tournaments, but we had 15 turnovers (today), and that’s way too many.”
Hayden (17-6) advances to Friday’s state semifinal to face Holcomb. Rock Creek’s season ends at 18-5.
Vogts said he will remember the season fondly.
“We were willing to fight,” Vogts said. “No matter who we were on the court with, we were playing hard all the time.”