Eagles win first basketball championship

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Laney Turner

Senior Jacob Hanna hugs sophomore Justin Stephens after winning the first state basketball championship in Maize’s history.

Laney Turner

The Eagles accomplished something Saturday night that no other basketball team in the history of Maize High School has done. 

The Maize Eagles are state champions. 

Maize defeated Topeka West 55-43 at Emporia’s White Auditorium. 

“This for me solidifies everything you always work for,” said coach Chris Grill. “It puts an exclamation point on everything you do.” 

Many of the players were overcome with emotion after the game. 

“Just being able to finish this season with that state championship just says how much we finished out our last game,” sophomore Avery Johnson said. “It’s way better to go out like this with happy tears, tears of joy.”

The Eagles finished the year with a 23-2 record. They beat every team they played this year avenging road losses to Derby and Campus with victories at home later in the season. 

“You guys continued to get the most out of what you had, every single night, every single game,” Grill told the players after the game.

After trailing 12-10 in the first quarter, the Eagles outscored Topeka West 12-3 in the second quarter to lead 22-15 at halftime. The Eagles outscored West 22-17 in the third quarter, all but putting the game away. 

“I knew we had a good chance with these guys,” Grill told the team in the locker room after the game. “The first quarter was tough, I thought once you got a lead, your intensity defensively, your rebounding defensively… was pretty outstanding.” 

The Eagles showed off their depth and teamwork throughout the year, making it difficult for other teams to focus on one or two players. Saturday it was Johnson who scored a team-high 17 points. Senior Winston Bing added 11 points. (Click here for the box score.)

“We just got this bond on and off the court and obviously you build that chemistry off the court as you see here,” Johnson said.