HESSTON — Hesston’s boys are the Wichita State Shockers of high school basketball.
The Swathers continue their quest for perfection at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday when they open Class 3A State Basketball Tournament play against Wichita Collegiate at Hutchinson’s famed Sports Arena.
The Swathers are 23-0 and the Spartans, a traditional state power under longtime coach Mitch Fiegel, come in 16-7. The winner moves on to Friday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinals to take on the winner of Riverton (20-2) and Rock Creek (20-3).
Hesston coach Greg Raleigh noted the Swathers’ opener should be difficult, given the fact Collegiate has a lot of experience in state tournament atmosphere.
The Swathers have relied greatly on their “Big Four,” who have been the backbone of the team for the past two years. Hesston was 20-3 last year, but did not make the 4A State Tournament as it lost to Abilene in the sub-state finals.
No team at the Sports Arena will feature the balance of the Swathers. All members of the “Big Four” average in double figures, led by 6-1 guard Grant Raleigh, who averages 14 points and 3.7 assists. Big man Wyatt McKinney, a versatile 6-6 performer who can play both inside and outside, scores 12.8 points, grabs 7.6 rebounds and is quick enough to pilfer three steals a game.
Ryan Schadler, the bullet-quick 6-0 guard, scores 11.1 points a game and will be running track at Wichita State as he’s one of Kansas’ premier sprinters. Tyler McCartney, a 6-2 guard-forward, chips in with 10.8 points a game, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Steady 6-1 Justin Smith rounds out the lineup, scoring 4.5 points and snaring the same number of rebounds a game.
The Swathers get a lot of help from first subs, 6-0 Scott Duerksen (4.5 points) and 6-7 Brad Simpson (3.0 points).
Of the Swathers’ top seven, only McKinney and Schadler are seniors as the pieces are in place for a continued long run.
On the other side of the bracket, Beloit (22-1) takes on Wellsville (20-3) at 3 p.m. Wednesday, while Nemaha Valley (21-2) goes up against Holcomb (20-3) at 4:45.