‘We’re not finished yet’: Eagles to play for state title Saturday

Jacob+Hanna+goes+up+for+a+shot+in+the+first+half+of+the+Eagles%27+74-48+victory+Friday+over+KC+Washington.+The+Eagles+advanced+to+Saturday%27s+title+game.+Hanna+scored+a+game-high+17+points.+

Brooklynn White

Jacob Hanna goes up for a shot in the first half of the Eagles’ 74-48 victory Friday over KC Washington. The Eagles advanced to Saturday’s title game. Hanna scored a game-high 17 points.

Carter Jones, Editor

The Eagles are one win from history. 

Maize defeated KC Washington 74-48 Friday in the Class 5A semifinals in Emporia and will play in Saturday’s championship game. It will be the first title game in Maize boys basketball history.

“I’m just really happy and thankful to God that I’m able to be at this place because not a lot of teams can be at this place,” senior guard Keegan Harrod said. “I’m just happy that I have great teammates on my side so we can … accomplish this.” 

The Eagles will play the winner of Friday’s other semifinal between De Soto and Topeka West. 

It’s something that no other team in our school has done yet.”

— Winston Bing

Maize (22-2) is the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Eagles entered as the No. 1 seed two years ago but lost in the semifinals to eventual winner Andover Central. 

“We were in this moment two years ago — and I was a minor part on that team — so it feels great to … be in the same spot and get it done finally,” senior Jacob Hanna said.

Coach Chris Grill said it’s been an amazing run for a team that started the 2020 season with little varsity experience. The Eagles lost 10 seniors from the year before and started 4-7 before winning eight of their final 10 games, gaining valuable experience along the way. 

“If you would’ve said we’d be playing for a state championship a year later, most of these guys [would have] thought you were probably crazy,” Grill said. “They probably didn’t think they were quite ready for it at that point. We were a pretty bad basketball team back then, and we came together.”

Hanna, one of three seniors on the team, scored a game-high 17 points and game-high nine rebounds. Senior Winston Bing added 15 and Harrod, the third senior, added 14. Junior Jaden Gustafson and  sophomore Avery Johnson scored 10 points apiece. (Friday’s box score)

We’re not finished yet.”

— Keegan Harrod

The game wasn’t close after the Eagles led 14-11 after one quarter. Maize outscored Washington 16-8 in the second to lead 30-19 at halftime. The Eagles outscored Washington 24-12 in the third. 

The significance of playing for a title isn’t lost on Bing. 

“It’s something that no other team in our school has done yet,” Bing said. “And we’re really looking forward to it, and it’s just really exciting for us as a team.”

And they know they still have work to do.   

“We’re not finished yet,” Harrod said.