CLAY CENTER — Not a lot was made of the chances of the Smoky Valley boys as they headed into the Clay Center Class 4A Division II sub-state.
The Vikings were an unassuming 8-12, while the consensus was it was going to be a Concordia coronation as the Panthers were a heavy favorite to roll through.
But Smoky Valley saved its best for last with a stunning 69-56 victory over Concordia to advance to Emporia on Thursday, where it will play the 8:15 p.m. game against Rock Creek (20-2), which rolled by perennial power Topeka Hayden 75-59 in its championship game.
“Our boys played really well. We were clicking,” Viking coach Doug Schneider said. “I knew we could shoot it, but we just hadn't done it yet. We finally all played with a ton of confidence.”
The other side of the bracket features 22-0 Girard against another surprise entry Baldwin (7-15), while the Vikes’ Central Kansas League rival Pratt (15-7) has a tough task with Wichita Collegiate (19-3).
The Vikings set the tone by exploding for 22 first-quarter points to put Concordia on its heels. It was 37-26 at the half and 50-36 going into the fourth quarter.
Even with Cooper Holmes going off for 29 points, he didn’t have enough help as it was the most special win for the Vikings in a long time.
Nick Reinert was sensational with 28 points to lead Smoky Valley, while Trey Schneider came up with 15 clutch tallies.