The march to a second straight Class 3A boys state basketball championship began Tuesday night for the Hesston boys.
And they began their defense in style.
Hesston, coming off a 26-0 season, overwhelmed Marion with a 25-1 second-quarter burst on its way to a 62-17 home humbling.
Nothing suggested such a lopsided score in the first quarter as Hesston led only 14-6.
But the Swathers, now 19-2, cranked it up in the second quarter as Grant Raleigh and Tyler McCartney both scored eight points in the period as Hesston was in the driver’s seat.
Coach Greg Raleigh was able to play his subs liberally in the second half.
Grant Raleigh finished with 15 points and McCartney scored 14. Ten Swathers in all scored.
Hesston will play Trinity Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Hesston in semifinal action. The Celtics outlasted Hillsboro 48-42 in their first-round game.
• Canton-Galva girls 37, Lincoln 24 — The Canton-Galva girls were the other area team to move on Tuesday, as they knocked down some key free throws in the second half.
The Eagles’ defense was airtight all night as Leopards scored only 11 points through three quarters.
Cassidy Enns led the Eagles with 16.
The Eagles take on Ellinwood at 6 p.m. Friday at Claflin. Ellinwood is 20-1 on the season.
• Lincoln boys 62, Canton-Galva 59, OT — Of all the heart-breaking losses the Eagles have suffered this year, this one hurts the most.
The Eagles seemingly had their first-round game with the Leopards won. They were up with .2 on the clock when they fouled on a wild shot attempt.
After both free throws were made to force overtime, Lincoln rode the wave of momentum to the victory, outscoring C-G 9-6 in the extra session. It was the Eagles’ third overtime loss or last-second loss in the last four games.
Eagle coach Shane Duncan was heart-broken for his players after the season came to an end with a 9-12 record.
“This is an extremely difficult way to end the season,” Duncan said. “When the disappointment wears off, I believe we will look back at the season and be happy with the growth that we have made. Not just this year, but over the past three years. I lose five seniors from this team and they will be sorely missed. I was very blessed to be able to coach them the past few seasons and I hope our underclassmen can follow their lead and continue to move this program in the direction it is going.”
Fourth-quarter free throwing allowed the Leopards to hang around. They made 11 of 13 in the final period while C-G was 5 of 12. The Eagles took a five-point lead into the final period.
“We were uncharacteristic tonight,” Duncan said. “We have been a great rebounding team up till this point in the season, but Lincoln outrebounded us by 10. Many of those were offensive in the fourth quarter. Offensive rebounds and free throws were daggers for us late in the game. Can't win the close ones if you don't take care of those two areas of the game.”
Nick Bray drained 5 of 10 from 3-point and finished with 22 to lead the Eagles. Zach Snow scored 11 points, and Travis Unruh had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
• Wilson boys 60, Elyria Christian School 56 — The Eagles did not end their season without a fight.
Much-improved Elyria was as close as 52-50 late, but Wilson hit its free throws down the stretch.
Elyria had trailed 26-18 at the half and still was down eight going into the fourth quarter before making a charge.
Elyria coach Ben Starburg, whose team won five games this year after going 0-21, was proud of how his team improved this year as it poured the foundation for what should be future success as it has many young players and a good group moving up.
One of those youngsters, freshman Tyler Thiessen led the Eagles with 17 points in the loss, 13 of those coming in the second half. Matthew Gemmer added 15.
• Ellinwood girls 64, Little River 23 — The Redskins’ season came to an end at the hands of once-beaten Ellinwood. They closed 1-21. No scoring was available.