TOPEKA — Facing undefeated Highland Park, Wamego boys’ coach Troy Hemphill knew his team could ill afford to play sloppy in the opening quarter of Saturday’s sub-state final at Hayden High School in Topeka.
Facing an 18-4 deficit after the first quarter, it was an uphill battle the rest of the night for the Red Raiders, who fell 60-37 to the Scots to end a solid season.
“I thought we just got off to such a rocky start,” Hemphill said. “You can’t get behind like that. For whatever reason we gave up some turnovers and just couldn’t seem to get organized on offense. I thought after the first quarter we played pretty well, but damage was already done by then.”
Despite the final score and the bad opening period, the Red Raider’s kept tempo with Highland Park the final three quarters, but it wasn’t enough to finish with the win.
With four minutes to play in the third quarter, a combined 10 points from seniors Dakota Turner and Marshall Wethington rallied the team and gave a ray of hope to the Wamego fans in attendance.
“Marshall is just a competitive kid who’s not going to quit,” Hemphill said. “We’ve got eight seniors and they’re all like that, I’m just proud that they continued to fight.”
For Wamego, both Turner and Wethington scored in the double-digits with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Highland Park junior Shaffee Carr finished the game with a game-high 18 points, hitting two 3-pointers.
Despite how it ended, the 2013 season was not one that the Red Raiders will soon forget.
“We had a great season, we went 9-1 in the league, we were league champions by ourselves.” Hemphill said. “We had to win some tough ballgames to do that. It’s always tough when it comes to an end, but I’m sure in a couple of days we’ll look back and see we accomplished some things this season.”